Atlanta Business Chronicle | Meet the C-Suite: Bob Peterson, CEO of Carter

Welcome to Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Meet the C-Suite,” where each week we will feature one of the city’s most high profile c-level executives.

This week meet Bob Peterson, chairman and CEO of Carter, a real estate investment, development, and advisory firm.

Name: Bob Peterson

Company: Carter

Title: Chairman and CEO

Headquarters: Atlanta

Background: I was born in Winston Salem, N.C.,and have been a resident of Atlanta since 1974. Prior to joining Carter, I was managing director of CarrAmerica Realty Company (NYSE: CRE) and president of CarrAmerica Development Inc. I also served as CEO of Peterson Properties, a full-service commercial real estate company, which he founded in 1979 and sold to CarrAmerica in 1996. Peterson Properties developed over 30 office and industrial projects totaling four million square feet, and handled more than $1 billion in investment transactions over a 17-year period.

First job: Arthur Rubloff & Co, Industrial Real Estate Tenant Rep Broker

Education: B.S. Business Administration- University of North Carolina

Residence: Atlanta

How’s business: Business is very good. As of the beginning of 2016 we have the largest pipeline of booked and identified business that we have ever had. We have active new developments underway in Cincinnati, Tampa, Sarasota and some very exciting new large projects in Atlanta.

Biggest challenge for your business: Time. The development process takes a really long time. It typically takes 18 to 24 months from when we identify an opportunity to when we commence construction and an additional 30 months for construction and lease-up. So that’s four to five years and along the way many things that are outside of our control can change, both good and bad but still outside of our control.

What’s going to change at your company in the next year: We will be far more active in the Atlanta market than we have been for some time. We don’t anticipate any major changes in our business strategy, but we realize that change is constant and we will continue to adapt to the realities of the marketplace.

Company goal yet to be achieved: Learn something new and get better every day. With that goal you always wake up with a goal that is yet to be achieved.


Management philosophy

Guiding principles for good management: Our values are integrity, commitment and excellence. Our vision is to create value through great relationships. We strive to promote a culture based on trust. All of our associates have been exposed to the book The Speed of Trust. We refer often to the concepts described in this book and the importance of practicing them internally and externally.

Best way to keep competitive edge: Hire and retain the right people. Delegate responsibility according to individual strengths and trust each person to get their work done with little oversight.

Why people like working for you: We have very few rules, and we are focused on results. Our associates have a lot of freedom, but they also know that if Carter is going to be a great company we need to have high expectations regarding performance, integrity, commitment and excellence.

Most inspiring entrepreneur: Charlie Munger (vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway)


Judgment calls

Best business decision: Joining Carter in 2001.

Hardest lesson learned and how you learned it: I learned that when the real estate investment market turns down, it is sudden and all opportunities to sell, buy, refinance or add value disappear overnight and do not come back for a long time. I learned it by experiencing it firsthand very early in my career during the 1989 -1993 recession. I think this experience is why Carter’s business was much better positioned when the 2008 Great Recession hit.

Toughest business decision: Selling Peterson Properties, the company I founded and led for 17 years, to CarrAmerica, a publicly traded REIT in 1996.

Biggest missed opportunity: Not spending my career in the multi-family investment and development business. I waited until I was 60 years old.


True confessions

Like best about job: The opportunity to work every day with our very committed and talented team of associates.

Like least about the job: The need to multi-task in order to deal with the busy-ness of most days.

Pet peeve: People who complain but have no idea how to improve the situation.

First choice for a new career: Author.


Predilections

Most influential book: Poor Charlie’s Almanac, by Charlie Munger.

Favorite cause: The Atlanta Police Foundation.

Favorite restaurant: Le Bilboquet.

Favorite way to spend free time: Playing golf.

Favorite music: Country.

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By: Phil W. Hudson

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