VOL. 131 | NO. 233 | Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Lennox Cos. Raising Its Profile
By Patrick Lantrip
When Lennox Cos. was founded in 2014, the upstart apartment management company owned only three properties with 800 units, but a mere 2 ½ years later it manages 18 properties with more than 3,700 units.
Jonathan Wogan founded Lennox Cos. in 2014. Lennox, an apartment management company, recently acquired three Midtown Memphis properties, including Kimbrough Towers, for a combined $25.1 million.
(Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)
This rapid growth includes the acquisition this year of three Midtown high-rises, Blair Tower, Rosecrest Apartments and Kimbrough Tower, all purchased for combined $25.1 million.
Lennox president Jonathan Wogan said the recent expansion into the Midtown market is a sign of things to come for the company.
“We are starting to brand those in our marketing as Lennox Midtown,” Wogan said. “So when you think Midtown, you start to think Lennox.”
While the company owns multiple properties in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and in Kansas, it will focus on acquiring properties in areas like Midtown moving forward.
“We are focused on properties that are in need of some improvements, but are stable,” Wogan said. “Like Rosecrest – it’s already occupied, it’s already doing well, but it’s older and it could use a facelift.”
Lennox is modernizing its three Midtown properties by renovating the lobbies and units and updating amenities.
When Wogan, a 10-year veteran of the asset management industry, founded Lennox Cos. with two silent partners, he wanted to take an approach that was employee friendly and involved in the community.
“When we started Lennox one of the major focuses was how we create a model that is not unnecessarily tedious and the employees really feel like they are a part of a team and enjoy going to work every day,” he said.
Earlier in his career, Wogan felt like his supervisors would sometimes leave him on an island, often going years without a face-to-face meeting.
“There was no concept or feeling that it was a part of something bigger,” Wogan said. “When I was having problems, there was no concept the other people were having the same problems, because nobody really knew anyone.”
That feeling left its mark on Wogan and when he founded Lennox, installing a sense of community, even with the out-of-town properties, was important. Instead of phone calls and redundant reports, Wogan prefers to meet with his employees either face to face or through ooVoo, which is a business-oriented version of Skype.
“Because we have properties in Chattanooga, Knoxville and here, I can’t be at all these properties all of the time, but I still want them to know that they are not on an island,” he said.
Another way Lennox hopes to create a sense of community is through its charitable contributions.
Last December, Lennox began a partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that is unique to the apartment industry.
With online rent payments becoming more frequent, Wogan thought that adding an option to donate, similar to what some retailers offer during checkout, would add up over time.
“One of our core values was responsibility, and the definition of the catch word ‘responsibility’ talks about giving back to the community,” Wogan said. “I was trying to think of which charity or organization we could partner with that is Memphis-based, but has appeal and relevance nationally.”
Thus the partnership with St. Jude was born. In March, Lennox donated its first check to St. Jude and will donate the second next month during the company’s year-end meeting.
Wogan, who is also heavily involved in fundraising efforts for Memphis’ Jewish community, said that though the initial check of $484 was small by St. Jude’s standards, it marked a big step into a previously untapped source of charitable contributions.
“Ultimately we’ll have more units, so the checks will become bigger,” Wogan said. “I also plan on working with other businesses to share the idea and eventually it could be a movement in the apartment industry.”
As a part of the Kimbrough Towers deal, Lennox acquired Kimbrough Center, which marked its first foray into office and retail space. But multifamily will always remain Lennox’s primary focus.
“Our specialty is what we’re doing, and that’s going to be our core for a long time, even if we do branch out little bit,” he said.