- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Drew Taylor
- Estimated reading time: 8 mins
A developer is responsible for bringing all pieces of the building puzzle together, expertly managing relationships with everyone from brokers and real-estate attorneys to contractors, architects, engineers, owners and tenants. A good developer brings all of these parties together to achieve a common goal that delivers quality construction and long-term investment value for clients. For Tom Rankin, CCIM, founder and owner of Springfield, Missouri-based Rankin Development and managing director of SVN/ Rankin Company, this collaborative approach to develop high-quality real estate has always been a passion.
“My heart was always wanting to do development because I really enjoy seeing things come to life, from nothing to something and working with a wide variety of people to accomplish the end goal; it’s very gratifying work,” says Tom, who established Rankin Development in 1990.
“I worked for another small development company in Springfield and I decided to start my own firm in 1990 because I felt that my goals would be better achieved by going it alone so to speak,” he recounts.
Rankin Development originally formed as a brokerage company and over the last decade the company has evolved into a commercial build-to-suit development business. “Today alongside Rankin Development I operate SVN/Rankin Company, a national brokerage firm with a team of five brokers/advisors on staff,” says Tom.
North Creek Business Park – the first of many major developments
Tom still devotes most of his time to Rankin Development, still pursuing the passion that got him into the business 28 years ago. “90 percent of my time is dedicated to development projects,” he says.
“My first development was 108 acres of what was then farm land in Springfield,” says Tom. “I partnered with Charlie O’Reilly, the co-founder of O’Reilly Auto Parts, which is based in Springfield, to launch the North Creek Business Park. He had faith in me as a young developer and this project was what really launched Rankin Development. Each progressive year we started doing more development, more retail and industrial, build-to-suit and spec buildings.”
Located at the intersection of Interstate 44 and Highway 65 in Springfield, the 100-plus acre North Creek Business Park is one of Rankin Development’s large properties. The multitenant site is situated within the Enhanced Enterprise Zone as designated by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, an ideal home for many of Springfield’s corporate offices.
Springfield – the economic hub of Missouri
Today the majority of the firms’ work is still based in the heart of the Springfield metro area. Tom says large-scale developers of the same capacity are few and far between in Springfield, although the area is home to a burgeoning, diversified economy.
“Springfield is a city with a robust economy and many consider it to be the state’s ‘economic engine,’” he says. “We are home to many large retail businesses, including a 1.6 million square feet mall and the home of Bass Pro Shops, which draws millions of tourists annually. Springfield is also a large regional medical and an education hub with Missouri State University, Drury University, Evangel University, Ozarks Technical Community College, and many others, calling Springfield home.”
With so many types of businesses Tom says the effects of the recession didn’t hit as hard in Springfield as in other cities across the country. “When the downturn hit we didn’t feel it as much because we have a diversified economy. Development and new construction slowed, but didn’t completely stop like it did in other parts of the country,” says Tom.
Rankin Development remains one of the few sizable development firms in the city. “We’ve seen larger players come in from out of town, but they don’t have a vested interest in the community, know the market or have the relationships we do,” says Tom. “We have well established relationships, be it with the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Springfield, or Greene County. They know us, they know we’re not some entity coming in here, doing one project and leaving.”
Running as a fairly lean operation with only a handful of employees, these relationships come in handy for Rankin Development. “Basically it’s just me and a few staff members,” says Tom. “We have a property manager, accountant and a maintenance staff; otherwise I’m hiring the architect, engineers, contractors and project attorneys. We have relationships with either a broker who is bringing me a tenant or with the company itself that we’re building a facility for — I’m managing all of that. I cover the bases. I like it this way because I enjoy all aspects of development and being able to keep tabs on everything.”
This business model relies heavily on trusted consulting firms and subcontractors to carry on parts of the project process Rankin Development cannot tackle in-house. Tom turns to several go-to firms for financing, architecture, engineering and contracting such as Lee Engineering, Morelock-Ross Builders, Slone Architects, Buxton Kubik Dodd Architects and Central Bank. “I have a handful of longstanding relationships and key companies I turn to time and time again,” he says.
Springfield Plaza taking shape
Tom has turned to his trusted development team to begin Springfield Plaza, a 98-acre tract, adjacent to a Wal-Mart Supercenter, ideally suited for retail development because it is 6 miles west of the nearest retail center in Springfield.
The land is being developed into multiple commercial projects designed to meet specific retailers’ needs. “This first phase includes 150,000 square feet of retail space,” says Tom. “Our anchor tenant is Burlington Coat Factory, which represents their first store in southwest Missouri. Other tenants include Ross Dress For Less, Petco, a national shoe store and other national retailers we’re negotiating with.”
This location provides retailers the ability to access the growing West Springfield residential markets, as well as, the rapidly expanding Republic, Missouri, market. Both Sunshine and West Bypass give excellent linkage to James River Freeway and Interstate 44.
Rankin Development pays close attention to all development factors — everything from traffic counts to current area retail sales, population growth and more. “The biggest factor in the need for Springfield Plaza is residential growth in West Springfield,” says Tom. “Retail follows residential roof tops and with so much residential growth and no major retail centers servicing this growth, we saw the need for this development.”
Located far enough away from existing retail outlets, Springfield Plaza is attractive to retailers in an area dubbed by the City of Springfield as a high-activity center. “Burlington Coat Factory could have put a store anywhere in our market, but they wanted to go where the residential growth is,” says Tom.
Restaurants will go along with the project as well. “We’re making out lots available for sale for restaurants as we speak,” says Tom.
Mercy/ROi distribution facility
Just outside of Springfield in the growing suburb of Republic, Missouri, Rankin Development has started a new project for ROi, a leader in health care supply chain management owned by Mercy based in St. Louis. “ROi has an existing 100,000-square-foot facility near our North Creek development but they need more space to accommodate the hospitals they serve,” explains Tom. “Logistically this is a great location for them to serve the western and southern parts of Missouri, as well as southern and northwest Arkansas and southeast Oklahoma.”
ROi officially broke ground on the new 100,000-square-foot custom surgical pack manufacturing facility in August 2016. More than 90 ROi coworkers, including seven new positions, will work from the $10 million facility, scheduled to open in fall 2017, assembling and distributing custom surgical procedure packs for Mercy and other health care systems across the U.S. The packs produced by ROi’s Custom Pack Solutions (CPS) division contain the medical supplies needed to perform a range of surgical procedures.
“This concrete tilt-up facility has 32-foot high clear ceilings and a clean room,” notes Tom. The new facility will provide more capacity to accommodate for continued growth in ROi’s custom pack business.
In the last five years, ROi’s CPS program has grown more than 400 percent in volume, and more than 90 million total components have been placed in ROi packs to date. Today, the operation manages more than 670 different pack designs and averages more than 520,000 packs produced annually. The new facility will be able to produce up to 1.5 million packs each year.
Rankin has enjoyed partnering with such as fast-growing company and ROi truly appreciates Rankin’s ability to meet unique site development needs. “Tom Rankin is very professional and has met ROi’s needs in the development of our facility,” says Rick Parrish, director of manufacturing, ROi Custom Pack Solutions. “He has provided us with best practice recommendations in our building design and valuable suggestions in developmental growth in the placement of our facility. His approach and ability to be available to our needs has been a great benefit. He has been a pleasure to work with.”
With more relationships with fast-growing companies like ROi in place and more projects on the horizon Tom says he sees a bright development future, for Rankin and for Springfield. “We’re the third largest city in the state, but we’ve really been the economic engine for years and I don’t see that changing; I see more opportunity for growth in all segments of the market,” he says. “We want to be in a good position to take advantage of this growth.
For Rankin Development, Springfield is more than a strong marketplace to do business in — it’s also home. “We have raised our family here,” says Tom. “We’re not going anywhere. That’s another reason why it’s important to uphold our word and commitment to clients to deliver quality projects.”
With so much business success reliant on the success of the greater Springfield community, Rankin Development makes regular efforts to give back. “We are proud to provide support for many of our area’s nonprofit organizations including Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield and Convoy of Hope,” says Tom.
Tom also serves on several business and community boards, including his role as past president of the Springfield Business Development Corp., the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, the Burrell Behavioral Health board and Mercy Hospital board, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and many more with past and present involvement.
After 28 years in business Tom says he is still fully invested and enthusiastic about his work. “For me no two days are the same, whether I’m negotiating a lease or purchase agreement or working with a contractor or architect, I’m fortunate to see these plans take shape from beginning to end and ultimately deliver a building to a satisfied client,” he says.
Rankin Development continues to build more than quick profit real estate developments, but rather long-term investments in the prosperity, people and places that make Springfield.
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