With the goal of helping firms monetize underperforming real
estate assets, thereby obtaining capital to grow their own businesses, Steve
Hittman in turn achieved financial independence when he founded Crossroads Companies. Since the advent of
the company over a decade ago, the team has developed over $200 million of real
estate assets and manages over 800,000 sq feet of shopping centers. They
currently have four new projects under construction which will add
approximately 200,000 sq feet of new shopping centers and an additional $100M
dollar in value of their real estate portfolio. Crossroads manages all the
aspects in detail, as they handcraft the best value deals for their clients and
Journey to success
While growing up, Steve had a goal common to his generation,
be the 1st to obtain a college education in his family and ultimately attain
financial independence. He completed his BA degree from the State University of
Potsdam and subsequently obtained a diploma in Real Estate Finance & Development
from New York University.
He started his professional career in New York City as an
office leasing broker. There he represented Fortune 500 companies and some of
the City’s top real estate developers and owners in commercial transactions.
A client, one of the region’s largest supermarket chains
recruited Steve to join as a key executive. His challenge was to assist the
company achieve its strategic expansion plan. The task was quite challenging
due to capital constraints and a severe economic recession, nevertheless, over
the next few years, he raised the development capital necessary to renovate,
replace and expand the business from a 22-store to 36 store chain. His drive
and vision opened new development opportunities where he was able to ultimately
establish one of the region’s most successful development firms.
He states, “Relatively early in my career, it became
apparent to me that it is better to own assets and derive income from
investments, than to solely rely on being a high wage earner. Having been
exposed to most aspects of commercial transactions, leasing, acquisitions,
dispositions, sale/leaseback investments, and ultimately development and
construction of buildings, it was natural to progress from an intermediary to a
His firm developed a strong network of clients and investors
in need of development and related services. He adds, “My wife would say to my
chagrin, that he has built a company from the ground up, overcome adversity,
and achieved results based on the efforts of many, including loyal clients, as
well as a sprinkle of luck! He is the type of person that visualizes what is
possible, creates a plan, and is then the catalyst to make it unfold.”
Bringing change with Crossroads Companies
Steve states, “We are a vertically integrated development
firm that owns and takes capital risks on prospective development projects.
Over the past two decades, we have assembled an enviable portfolio of
income-producing properties. The quality of our real estate portfolio, by both
locations and credit quality, is our primary focus, as are the needs of our
clients. We represent users and investors and have skill sets in all phases of
real estate development which set us apart from our industry.”
Crossroads offers a unique suite of development services, a
comprehensive team approach offering a one-stop solution for everything from
strategic planning to site identification, entitlement risk mitigation to the
design of specialty properties. They plot every aspect of development,
including contract negotiations, entitlement approvals, venture capital, debt
financing, leasing, budgeting, construction, and property management.
Its team members are experts in their fields and cater to
all the necessities of their client’s projects & needs.
Wearing the hat of CEO
Steve adds, “It is a transformation that occurs over a long
period of time, from managing transactions and earning commissions to running a
company, being responsible for its cash flow and expenses, banking
relationships as well as employee’s well-being, being its tactical as well as a
strategic planner. To start as a financial intermediary to becoming a developer
and risk-taker, investor and fiduciary, mentor, and leader. These are
cumulative business experiences built over a lifetime and the result of the
efforts of many, including phenomenal mentors. I have been blessed to be able
to have made the transition from an intermediary to investor and developer.”
He believes we all can visualize an outcome and when
combined with tenacity and determination see it become a reality. He expresses
that clients, investors, and associates of Crossroads are the lifeblood of
Crossroad’s business success.
He states, “We have grown over several decades to a point
where we can point to tangible results from our collective efforts. Investors
can look to our property portfolio and assess the value we have created for our
clients. Prospective clients, commercial & retail tenants have a body of
work performed on behalf of existing clients that attest to our track record of
success. Our partners and employees are rewarded for their successful efforts
He expresses his excitement despite the unpredictable nature
of development outcomes. He takes every challenge with a measure of caution and
respect and yet enjoys the challenge that the outcome will be successful. He
takes pleasure in knowing that a development project will not only create
needed jobs in the construction industry but ratables for municipalities and
school districts, as well as permanent employment in communities. Even though
his capital is placed at-risk there is satisfaction knowing that he will
assemble a formidable development team for each project, lawyers, architects,
engineers, as well as a plethora of sub-contractors and trades.
Steve is a leader. He says, “If it were easy, everyone would
do it. We need to have a purpose. We need to believe in ourselves. We cannot
let disappointments keep us down. Nor let others diminish our self-esteem. Of
course, we need to be realistic, but we also need to dare to dream BIG! When
something it is not working, pivot – change course! Learn from your mistakes,
adjust your plan. Set goals, write them down, read them on occasion.
Collaborate, keep your word, be ethical, acknowledge others – say thank you.
Reward people for their efforts. Your success is dependent not just on yourself
but with those you work with, as well as the clients and investors who allow
you the privilege to represent them.”
Achieving work-life balance
Steve rises early and plans the day ahead. He likes to read,
novels, history, the latest news, and financial and business investments.
He tries to maintain a balance between his professional and
personal life. He expresses, “Just be thankful each day. Surround yourself with
family, friends. Enjoy your collaboration with business associates. Find a
balance between work and play. Make sure to find time for loved ones, they
matter the most. Leave your business at the office, do not bring it home with
you. Tomorrow is another day.”
On the professional front, he likes to multitask and
collaborate on many things, a necessity when you own a business. He leads a
team of diverse professionals and does his best to lead by example. Walk the
walk and not just talk the talk.
On the personal front, he tries to take out time for his
family, vacations, play golf, and relax on weekends. Re-energize his mind and
body so he can start the week refreshed after a few days of rest.
Crossroads Companies Future Plans for Expansion
Steve has been implementing a succession plan so that his
partners and associates can continue to share in the success and rewards of the
business, as well as mentor those who follow. His goal is to expand his
company’s geographic footprint, continue to diversify its real estate holdings,
and grow its list of satisfied clients. He knows to achieve these aspirations
will require hard work as well as the dedication and efforts of many.
He adds, “We have expanded our service businesses over time so that they now include construction, property management, leasing, brokerage & advisory services, as well as diversified our property & investment portfolio to include supermarket-anchored centers and mixed-use residential projects. We continue to grow our geographic footprint, which now includes NJ, NY, and PA, as well as invests in our people which is a necessary part of success”.