Meet RealOp: Greenville Chamber Small Business of the Year
By Leigh Savage
Photos by Amy Randall Photography
A decade ago, RealOp Investments was born. Today, the firm has grown to 31 employees across five offices (Greenville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Nashville, and Tampa), serving more than 340 tenants and holding more than $400 million in assets. Last year, it ranked No. 7 on Greenville Business Magazine’s Top 25 Fastest Growing Businesses list. This year, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce bestowed upon it another honor: the 2018 Small Business of the Year.
Founder and CEO Reggie Bell says RealOp’s growth, as well as a commitment to the community, factored into the award. “We want to be a well-rounded organization that not only builds up our community, but also gives back in terms of job growth,” he says.
Founded in 2009, RealOp Investments is a commercial real estate investment company that specializes in value-add and opportunistic acquisitions. Shortly after its launch, Bell was joined by Kyle Putman as a principal, and then in 2014, Paul Sparks joined as third principal.
The company has created 400 new jobs in the last 24 months at businesses and properties they have acquired and repositioned, Bell says.
Locally, two of RealOp’s most recognizable development projects are Markley Station, where RealOp converted an underutilized warehouse space and created a commercial plaza with office, retail, and restaurant space; and 504 Rhett Street, where they built their headquarters, as well as space for additional tenants, in a converted two-story mill.
As the company approaches its 10-year anniversary this March, Bell says the team has stayed true to its original approach, which was finding distressed assets—mismanaged, undercapitalized—and repositioning them as part of a value-add strategy. “We leverage investor equity of all shapes and sizes, and have a unique skill set where we acquire and manage those assets across the Southeast,” Bell says. “The underlying theme is a value-focused investment strategy.”
The Greenville Chamber awarded RealOp Investments Small Business of the Month last October, which made it eligible for the Small Business of the Year Award. The honor was presented at the Greenville Chamber’s 120th Annual Meeting on Feb. 21, featuring remarks from Gov. Henry McMaster.
Bell says the award reaffirms that the company is heading in the right direction as it expands its staff, its assets, and its commitment to the community. RealOp employees performed more than 2,000 hours of volunteer service for more than 25 Greenville charities in 2018.
“We believe in Greenville and feel that our organization has exemplified the careful balance of improving our community while organically growing a successful business,” Sparks says.