The Real Estate and Construction industry may be huge, but ultimately, as with all industries, it comes down to the people who help make it all come together. From time to time, we like to profile some of those people.
Joe Rich is CIO and a senior vice president at The Related Companies, an owner, operator and fund manager of real estate based in New York City. Rich has been with Related for five years as the CIO. Prior to that, he was CIO at New York-based real estate developer Tishman Speyer.
Describe your job to people who are not doing what you’re doing every day.
Rich: When people ask what I do, most of the time, I just say I run technology for a real estate company. There are back-end systems to assist our employees and count the rent, but there are also our public marketing-facing websites. We have over 150 active websites that we manage on a daily basis. We also are in the Internet of Things (IoT) business—we have over 20,000 IoT endpoints that were managing, and that’s increasing exponentially year over year as the number of building management system sensors in our buildings, cameras and other tech continues to rise.
Tell us something interesting about your company.
Rich: Related operates multiple classes of real estate. We are in the high-rise office business Class A commercial office space. We are in the business of building high-end condos in city centers around the United States. While that’s common for a lot of real estate companies, we’re also are the largest private affordable housing operator in the United States. We have over 45,000 units that we self-manage on a day-to-day basis. That’s how company founder Steve Ross started his career almost 50 years ago. Affordable housing is a core competency and a core mission of the firm. We don’t buy affordable housing to flip it to market rate. That’s not our business. Our business is to rehabilitate neglected properties and improve the lives of our residents and surrounding communities.
Are there any current projects of note that you or Related are working on?
Rich: Something I’m working on that I’m excited about in the next year or two involves the massive changes that are going on in wireless technologies. There are so many interesting things happening in 5G right now, and real estate is the center of that. Carriers who have typically invested their own capital into our buildings are no longer doing that, and so the question of, “Hey, now what do we do?” is a very interesting one. We’re experimenting with things like private Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS), and working with our tenants and customers to cooperate on some of these new technologies in our buildings.
What’s your proudest professional moment?
Rich: We’ve had lots of projects throughout the years that I have been proud of, but and I think my proudest “moment” is not one moment at all, but rather the daily experience of working with my team. Getting to build and lead this great team of incredible people who execute and make a real difference in the business of Related and the lives of our residents—that’s probably my proudest accomplishment.
Tell us something you do when you’re not working?
Rich: I’ve run seven half-marathons, and my next step is the New York City Marathon in 2022. It was supposed to be 2020, but that didn’t really work out. I’ve also been developing a woodworking hobby, which is more like just a tool addiction—though I hope to use all those tools at some point!