Class of 2016
By Vicki Ikeogu
Originally published: Jan. 8, 2017
SARTELL — Among the numerous industries that took a substantial hit during the Great Recession, real estate, especially commercial real estate, was one area that bore the brunt of the economic downturn.
St. Cloud-based Granite City Real Estate was no exception.
As a newer real estate agent, having just completed a real estate degree from St. Cloud State University in 2005, Kate Hanson was on the front lines of the economic roller coaster.
"That was probably the most challenging time I've ever had in commercial real estate," Hanson said. "You had a lot of companies go away. You saw a lot of real estate companies go away. Everybody felt it. It wasn't like a subtle thing. It was a big thump."
But nearly seven years after the worst of the recession, Hanson said those trying experiences have helped make her the successful real estate broker she is today.
"That unique experience made me who I am today," she said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Since the economic downturn, Hanson has played an instrumental role for Granite City Real Estate. Securing her broker's license and her Certified Commercial Investment Member designation — an elite expert designation in the industry — in 2016, Hanson has worked closely with business developers throughout Central Minnesota in finding the perfect location for future enterprise.
She currently holds one of the top positions at Granite City Real Estate, vice president of commercial brokerage.
It is because of Hanson's work with Granite City Real Estate and commitment to business development in Central Minnesota that she has been selected for the 5 Under 40 Class of 2016.
Hanson sat down with the Times to talk about her accomplishments in the ever-changing industry of commercial real estate.
Question: Has real estate always been a passion of yours?
Answer: I've always been passionate about real estate. I'm just so interested by buildings. I'm so interested by the process and who you work with. Lease agreements, attorneys, city officials. I just walk into a building and it's like magic. I don't know how to describe it better than that. I just light up. That's just how I've always been.
Q: How has commercial real estate in Central Minnesota evolved throughout your career?
A: I was licensed in the heat of the market. It was the peak. And then it slowly tumbled down. But the only thing I knew was the basics of real estate. So when the market picked up, if you rely on those basics of selling, it's great. You can network, you can solicit leads, you can find new prospects. It all comes down to hard work. Signs don't sell properties. People sell properties. People help you find space. If you are a hard worker, you'll get through it.
Q: How have you been able to help your agency stay ahead of some of those market trends?
A: You just have to stay ahead of technology. Technology is a big part of it. If you look at the beginning of my career, newspaper ads were where you would go and spend your highest buck and feature some of your best listings. Now, is your website mobile friendly? Are you using all of the correct websites? You want to make sure that your clients know that you've thought of everything, too. Staying ahead of the market with forms through education and making sure that your agents and you are up-to-date with what's required by the State of Minnesota. Paying attention to other markets. You've got to be watching other markets and what's happening there, because that's where you are going to generate leads and generate ideas. (Clients) love when you are in the know.
Q: How do you differentiate yourself from other commercial real estate agents?
A: I'd have to say that when I started off in real estate, I was young and eager. I like to think that I still have a lot of that left. I learn from those that are around me. The great thing about the people that I work with is they came from all walks of life. We have some of the best veterans in Central Minnesota that are partners at our company. They are legendary names in commercial real estate that I've been lucky enough to learn from them. I'm very blessed for that opportunity. Mike Bobick, Jim Pflepsen, Steve Feneis and Leon Heinen they are the partners at Granite City. And those are staple names in St. Cloud and Central Minnesota. If ever had a question or if I ever needed advice I have that support system behind me.
Q: What is your secret to success?
A: Hard work, 110 percent. You've got to be willing to give it a 100 percent. You have to know the inventory, you have to walk it every day. You have to be passionate about your job. That's probably what separates me from a lot of the rest. It's because I'm so passionate. If I knew if I could eat a spoon full of dirt and get better at real estate I probably would.
Q: Between your work with Granite City Real Estate and the community, what sort of legacy do you want to leave behind in 20 years?
A: I guess the one thing that I want people to remember about me is that she knew what she was doing. She provided us with excellent service and we'd go back to her in a heartbeat. I am always looking for that repeat client that refers me on because they were so happy and they were so confident that they got the best deal possible and they got their needs met. I just want people to know that I'm passionate about what I do and I hope that that is conveyed.
Q: Who in your life has been an inspiration to you and what makes them or their qualities so special?
A: I've had many people in my life that are important to me and special to me. I definitely think that if we are talking specific to the industry I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for Jim Pflepsen. I learned everything there is to know about real estate from him and I love how he is so easy going and so well centered. He enjoys life and that just makes me keep focused.
Q: What advice would you give to other professionals, especially the young professionals who are starting out on their career journey?
A: I think that we have to be smart enough to take the technology and the things that we can today and be wise enough to seek out those who have been in our industries advice for a long period of time. They have survived it. They went through the same thing at one point in time, too. Know that they might have a thing or two to tell us about how to get through.
Occupation: Vice President of Commercial Brokerage and primary broker with Granite City Real Estate.
Education: Bachelor's degree in real estate from St. Cloud State University.
Family: Fiancé, Jesse Nelson; son, Carter, 9; daughter, Reese, 5.
Community involvement: Board member of the Minnesota Commercial Association of Real Estate/Realtors, former vice chair of the St. Cloud Downtown Council, volunteer for Grey Face Rescue & Retirement. Hanson also volunteers for her son's cub scout troop and works closely with Annandale Elementary School.