Vice President of Development Mark Rubin was a 20-year industry veteran when he joined the KDG team. As an entrepreneur and owner, Mark had worked in real estate for himself throughout his entire career and was hesitant to leave this behind. But the KDG team was different – Mark found we shared the same values of integrity, vision, and entrepreneurism. It was the right fit and allowed him to continue to operate his own business. This ability to, as Mark describes, have the “best of both worlds” has been incredibly beneficial as Mark can work on his own projects and nurture his entrepreneurial spirit while using this same spirit and skills to develop larger projects and grow KDG’s portfolio. So, what does being entrepreneurial mean to Mark?
“It’s having a vision and executing on that vision. It’s the persistence to take something from an idea or a concept to something that is tangible – you have to be willing to take on some risk.”
Mark’s family was in the real estate business, so he grew up familiar with the industry and early on developed a passion for real estate. He started his career in real estate in the 1990s by buying homes and renovating them, slowly building up his business and skills over time. Initially, he went door to door to introduce himself and make himself known in the industry. He visited real estate offices on a regular basis and began to cultivate relationships with the agents and brokers he met. Over the years, he has continued to grow his personal business by getting involved with industry organizations, such as the Home Builders Association, in order to stay current and bring the most relevant market information and best practices to his projects. Throughout his real estate journey, Mark says that the most important part is the people:
“The relationships that I have made over the years – my partners and my team have gotten me to where I am today. It is important to surround yourself with those that share the same values. It’s keeping that integrity as well as an open mind to the new ideas and practices emerging in the industry.”
As with any career journey, Mark has experienced ups and downs in the real estate industry. The 2008 financial crisis had a huge impact on Mark’s business. While it was a challenging time, he used his skills and experience to move forward. Mark quickly realized that without “fail forward” moments, it is hard to grow into the successful person you want to be. His advice is:
“Buckle your seatbelt because you are going to go for a ride. Real estate cycles up and cycles down. Anyone can figure it out during the good times, so it’s during the hard times that you’ll have to make a lot of sacrifices. What can be a challenge one day soon becomes a lesson and a solution for future projects.”
Mark’s expertise and leadership have brought incredible opportunities to KDG. KDG has over 1.5 million square feet in the pipeline, and Mark is excited to develop new projects that explore different uses and mixes, apply new design and technology, and accelerate growth in St. Louis. On a personal side, Mark hopes to continue to work on some low-income and professional workforce housing efforts while building up our region.
“I love the opportunity of being able to take the old roots of a rust belt city and apply some more creative solutions. I am always on the lookout for new concepts, ideas, and designs to integrate into the St. Louis market.”