John stepped into his father's business in the early 90's. Today he's the CEO of a Dutra Enterprises Inc, a Commercial Real Estate Firm with an estimated capitalized value of $58 million. Despite the massive demands on his time, John however has decided to still make room for his family and faith in life.
Welcome back in here to be with John Dutra he's the CEO or Dutra Real Estate, John welcome to today's show.
Thank you very much Alan, it's a pleasure to be here.
So John for the listeners can you give us your background of how you got to where you are today?
Grew up mostly in the bay area, been here in California all my life. Went to school here, Went to Hewlett Packard start working at Hewlett Packard in the seventies work my way up and was awarded a mechanical engineering program with Hewlett Packard. Left Hewlett Packard and eventually came to what was then Dutra Real Estate, back in the seventies, started working there as a salesman first and then left the business and it was a family run business and at the time working with my father and wasn't exactly I wanted to be a little more independent at that at that point in my life and so I ventured off on my own. Came back in the early nineties and have been working there ever since.
And so your primary focus in on commercial real estate now?
That's correct, yes. My father started the company in 1972, in fact we just celebrated our 45 fifth anniversary 3 days ago so 45 years here in the bay area and Fremont and we started off as a residential real estate firm. By 1998, we were the 75th largest real estate firm anywhere in the United States. That was all family owned, it was a private business. At the time and we came to a crossroads of sorts were the decision was to either jump in with the big guys or sell it and move on to a different type of business- commercial. And we chose to sell it at what we think was probably the best time. And we've been commercial ever since 1999. You know it's been quite a change since 1972 when you started out to today.
And what are some of the noticeable changes that you see where the industry is?
Nobody could have predicted the values of for the properties here in the bay area that you see today. In 1972 I think my father bought a home for $24,950. That same home would sell easily over $1 million today. So the trend, the population growth, the demand for business, the attraction for commercial retail electronic business here, technology business in that area is just overwhelming it's such a great place to grow as a company.
Is there certain geographical locale that you focus in on is it limited to the bay area or to certain parts of the bay area or?
We tend to go just about anywhere, the bay area is our focus we do primarily our business here, we have most of our holdings herein terms of buildings. But we can go anywhere and do business.
And then what what type of services you offer aside from your personal investments, what other services do you offer within Dutra Enterprises?
We're a commercial brokerage and a land entitlement firm so while we will help sell real estate and acquire real estate for our buyers. We also do land entitlement that's been a focus of our business for quite a while we've done that even before the early nineties when we went commercial/ Land entitlement involves taking a piece of property and in maximizing the value for the owner. And or taking that and then. buying it from the owner and in maximizing it for our company.
That's a big areas isn't it.
It's a very big area yes, especially it seems that as the population becomes more dense the requirement for better use and higher use of properties is even in greater demand.
Exactly we do a lot of work with them both private owners as well as the school districts in our area we do work with churches in our area. A lot of churches have seen the value of the land and have taken that value out in order to expand or move to a different area or even combine. Our goal has always been to provide the client with the very best knowledge that they can have, so they understand what they can get out of their properties.
I'm busy here today with John Dutra, he's the CEO of Dutra Enterprises, it's a company focused on commercial real estate, primarily here in the bay area and more specifically in the Fremont community and John I'm running up against the break and so right after these messages we'll be back more with John Dutra.
Welcome back I'm visiting here today with John Dutra of Dutra Enterprises, it's a firm focused on commercial real estate and John in the first segment we're talking about one of the services that you offer is helping to maximize the value of of the of the property.
I want to spend a few minutes talking about the approach to highest and best use that you guys use.
When a client comes to us typically with open land we'll take a look and value the land, based upon what the city looks at will which would be zoning or the general planned for the site and look to see if there's any value there with regard to development either infill project, where we're helping to put some homes there or a commercial site and look to see what would be the best value for the client. Often that involves a level of risk so you could tell a client that their best value maybe for instance building residential homes on their acreage- that will give them the most money which is typical for the area. However the level of risk is such that when you go to the city they may or may not approve it, they may or may not allow you to build their or they may not allow you to build enough homes to where it's profitable for the homeowner. So many homeowners or landowners, choose to sell the property, or we broker it to another identity who then takes on that risk and goes to the city and looks to entitle the property at that point.
You know they call holding raw land a rich man's game,
And so this is not it a short process. No, no, entitlement processes run actually right now anywhere from 12 to 18 months. Occasionally a little longer and so there's a time element involved too that most landowners are not used to because they hear of a residential home selling in 30 days so that process is a long one.
And what typically, by changing the zoning requirements, what typically happens to value?
Well if you're able to change the zoning, and you don't necessarily have to change the zoning, the general plan may have already designated that area for a specific type of zoning that's fully applicable to building homes you might be just okay however if you're looking for a stronger density then there's a zoning change its involved, usually it's called a PD- a planned district. At that point you're asking the city to revise for maybe smaller lots. Which has a whole different type of building pattern to it. And with that designation you're looking at floor area ratios for home so they can only cover a certain portion of lots. You're looking at open space requirements for the development you're looking for utilities you're looking for now water run off which is a huge issue here in the bay area. And so on so it's it's a very I wouldn't say complicated process but probably only because I've been doing it for 20 something years so.
So I guess it speaks to the fact that it's important to use somebody who's been through the process before and is familiar.
Absolutely, again it goes back to what we did deem as a value. This is not necessarily personal thing for us you in terms of how we make money I mean we do make money but it gives us the greatest pleasure to know that we've helped the people but don't necessarily do this and every day bases get the most value for their land and their families for years to come.
You know it seems that within recent years, the city has really taken on approach to allowing more housing units to come into Fremont, what's driving that right now.
Well a lot of its arm trying to take an old design and make it applicable in the current times. So the city of Fremont that was developed with a few main roads that weren't really set up for a higher population, for instance we're probably about 220,000 I think now at this point. And so the city of Fremont is trying to build transit oriented development and what that means is you build higher densities towards places like BART, ACE trains and so on where you can have people that will literally work and then walk to BART and jump on BART rather than having to use their car and use of the area. That's the trend for development nowadays so you're seeing more development with that aspect to it, similar to the downtown. But a little bit different than years past.
And I think it's coming on necessity because the infrastructure- the roads simply can't handle the people, that's exactly right exactly right.
John I'm running up against the break
So I need to take another break, I'm visiting here today with John Dutra of Dutra Enterprises, CEO. And that after we get through the break, I'm want to come back and get more on a personal level of how you find balance in your life.
That'd be great.
We'll be right back after these messages.
Welcome back I'm visiting here today with John Dutra, he's the CEO of Dutra Enterprises and John I really appreciate you being here today on the show. Before the break where we're talking about real estate trends in Fremont and the up and coming out I guess it's a lot of high density housing around the mass transit areas of BART and the ACE train which is kind of changing the whole landscape of this city. I want to move topic now to more of a personal standpoint. You got the career, business and then your personal side and how do you balance it all?
That's a tough one a very tough one. I grew up in a household with a father that was a very driven man in engineering background he is very precise and everything he does and have very strong work ethic. So growing up with that am I kind of adapted to that if you will. I've worked 2 jobs for the last 30 years and I work long hours. However I also have been drawn towards my faith, I'm a Christian and attend church here in Fremont. It's become a very strong drive for me in terms of my passion. Rededication to my family- who's always been number one for me but, I'm more and more realizing that for me time is the greatest gift that you can give any anything so.
I have take a little bit at a time to mention about your dad, when I was 27 years old I I bought my first home here in the Centerville area here, I had two young children and your father at that time was running for city council. And he had been going from door to door in our neighborhood- we were not home but he had taken a 3x5 note card and hand wrote out the whole, 'Dear Alan and Susan, sorry that I missed you, my name's John Dutra...' I don't even know him, but that I got that and I thought, 'my gosh', the whole thing's written out in pen and I was rubbing it off to see is this for real and that impression of your dad has never left me with the hard work ethic. And I know that he's a pillar in the community, raised his family here and so when you talk about the faith and the family, the importance to you, I get it. So let's talk about what role faith has played for you in the decisions that you make in life.
Only the biggest, there's the that part of you that when you grow up as a young man you think you're 10 foot tall and bullet proof, I guess and that you think that you control your life and that's not true it's just not true. I felt that I'm built for one purpose I was made for one purpose and that's to serve I definitely want to give back, to the community, my family and my god. I can't imagine not living the life any other way now and so faith is the basis for all my decisions and how I live my life.
There's something about when you have faith in your life and you give service, it really becomes fulfilling.
Unbelievably so yes service is everything. I serve in Rotary, I serve with my church, I serve in our community, I volunteer- I'm on the park and rec commission, I'm the chair for the Fremont prayer breakfast and so on but, at the end of the day all I do is look up and give all the glory to god.
It's a great thing to live by, and so, when you go through your your day to day decisions and obviously we're always in a period of juggling, I hear that faith is on the downside here, people are getting preoccupied with you know all the things and the clutter, how do you keep focused?
I start every single day of my life- I get up and I get out of bed and I thank god for the day. First of all most. From that point on usually I'm scrambling around the house, I walk my dogs in the morning and when I walk I just have an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the beauty of the day and the neighborhood and I gifts I've been given such as a job and a home and a family who loves me. And starting my day and that in that manner is is just the best way to go for me and it really starts my day off right. I'm also a very strong believer in prayer I think prayer is an amazing gift, to be able to talk to god directly and I use that multiple times throughout the day, everyday for every situation.
You know John when you look at the youth today, they're clearly in a different environment than when we grew up. How do you how do you help get the messages to the kids about the importance of things in life that are of close value to you?
As I've gotten more more involved with our church I've asked to step up and be part of a mentorship or leadership role in our church. I completely agree with you that with technology and the you know. Yeah I always have to be focused on something every single second. It really doesn't leave a lot of room for god and I think that so many of our younger men and women really need that, really want that but don't know how to get there. And so the best thing that I can do is probably show them through the way I live my life, show them how much god truly loves them and then spell that out. Just recently I was asked to speak about god in my life to the youth that do the set up at our church. And I just told them how much it meant to me and after we all broke, I must've gotten like 5 or 6 pats on the back in several handshake saying how much that meant to them. Well it was just overwhelming to me because I don't consider myself necessarily a teacher. But it was awesome.
I guess living life by example and loving is probably the most effective way to reach out.
Well John, we're running up against a break again, any final messages for the group here?
I just want to thank Alan and his family for the time that he's give me here, it's just like talking to a best friend and so I'm so grateful for that. But I also want to make sure that others know that if anybody has any questions at all, they can always call me anytime and I'll be glad to help them.
And how would they reach out to you?
They can reach me at my office I can give a phone number, it's 510.353.9984 and I look for helping any of you or your families.
Been visiting here today with John Dutra of Dutra Enterprises, John thanks for being on today's show.
Thank you so much Alan.