Multi-family development firm succeeds in enhancing the lives of employees
by Debra Gelbart
“SHARING THE GOOD LIFE” isn’t just a goal for Ross McCallister and his business MC Companies. It’s a mission.
This Scottsdale-based multifamily development firm was co-founded in 2001 by McCallister and Ken McElroy. Its main functions are investment, management and development, directed by three independent companies that work together under the MC Companies umbrella to “create a fully integrated enterprise to benefit our investors, residents and employees,” McCallister SAYS.
“It’s hard to miss our commitment to ‘sharing the good life,’” he continues. “It covers everything we do and everyone we do it for. For our residents, it means we’re delivering optimal living and service standards through our communities. For our investors, it means we’re maximizing our operating income and increasing property asset value for the highest possible returns. For our employees, it means we’re providing a quality work environment where they are respected and encouraged to grow.”
That’s certainly true for Brisa Gonzalez, who has thrived since arriving at MC Companies in August of 2017. She began working as an assistant leasing manager at a property in Tucson, hoping to become a property manager, even though her previous employer was not in the real estate sector.
“MC Companies taught me about the multifamily industry and gave me the opportunity build a career around that knowledge. When they posted an opening for talent development manager, I knew that was my perfect job because I really love to help others grow,” says Gonzalez. “Everyone on my team has been supportive of me chasing my dream. It’s amazing that I’ve had so many career opportunities in the relatively short time I’ve been with the organization.”
While she was an assistant leasing manager, Gonzalez was nominated in 2020 and 2021 for the Arizona Multifamily Housing Association Assistant Leasing Manager of the Year award. She was selected from a pool of about 20 other MC Companies assistant managers for the nomination.
“I didn’t know the nominations were coming so that was a really awesome surprise both times,” says Gonzalez, who now trains new leasing managers at the company.
Property and project management, in particular, McCallister says, “require a special kind of accountability. I equate a manager’s job to that of a mayor of a small town. That’s a big responsibility, but we’re lucky to have a team of experts, like Brisa, who fill those shoes and excel for us every day.”
One of several awards MC Companies has won in recent years is “13 Best Places to Work in Multifamily for Women,” part of the national Best Places to Work Multifamily program. The company also has been recognized in AZCentral.com’s Top Companies to Work for in Arizona, and as the Rookie Fundraiser of the Year by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Underscoring that priority on philanthropy, MC Companies established the Share the Good Life Foundation, an employee-driven division supported by donations, vendor partners, community programs and fundraising. It’s run by a full-time, in-house director of philanthropy, who helps guide the foundation to make a positive difference in communities.
“Through the foundation we also encourage all MC employees to find ways to give back through paid volunteer hours, paid time-off donations and company-sponsored events,” McCallister says.
Be giving, be positive, be open minded, be aware and present, be respectful and kind. These are more than affirmations to MC Companies. They’re core values.
“MC Companies was built on deeply rooted values centered on equality and social responsibility,” McCallister says. “We welcome residents into the communities we operate, and create sanctuaries for them regardless of race, religion or creed.”
The company has approximately 230 employees and currently owns and operates nearly 7,000 multifamily units in eight markets, including Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Tulsa. Last year, as the company marked its 20th year, it launched Operation 25K, an initiative to grow MC Companies to 25,000 units under ownership by 2029.
“It will also expand us to more than 330 employees by the end of 2022,” McCallister explains. “Reaching the 25,000-unit mark will require our investment arm to purchase more than 2,500 units annually and our development team to add to our portfolio through new construction. Right now, we have five new-build multifamily projects on the board that will deliver 1,300 units over the next two years.”
Multifamily housing is a sector that typically outperforms other property types, even during downturns, McCallister says. “And it has evolved to serve a range of demographics, from empty nesters to millennials. The growth markets that we target give us the opportunity to support these populations and our investors in the way we envisioned when Ken and I started our partnership.”
Most competitors “don’t own all of the communities that they manage,” he points out, “but our properties are 100 percent owned and managed by us. Whether we built them from the ground up or bought and renovated them, all are what we like to call ‘real places for real people.’”
According to McCallister, well-managed properties maximize occupancy, which maximizes cash flow, which maximizes the returns to investors.
“It’s a positive cycle from start to finish. The ironic thing – and the thing that some people miss – is that our business is about people. We’re now at more than 10,000 residents and counting.”