Feedback: May 2019

by Paul D. Engler; Andy Federhar; Jennifer Ward, Esq.

Phoenix’s economy has fostered and sustained growth in the housing sector (see our cover story on page 24); how has it impacted your company and how have you responded to it? 

Paul D. Engler 

Executive Vice President and Chief Real Estate Officer
Alliance Bank of Arizona
Sector: Banking

Since the depth of the recession, Phoenix has seen steady recovery. According to John Burns Real Estate Consulting, there was a 15 percent increase in new home permits from 2017 to 2018, while median prices for new and existing homes are at pre-recession levels. In addition to single-family homes, the demand for apartments has spurred new construction, with more than 26,000 multifamily permits issued since 2016. 

We are seeing the housing sector propel growth in the commercial real estate space. The rise in building means more direct construction jobs and also activity for suppliers and for retailers who sell appliances and home goods. This drives a higher demand for industrial space, as well as an increased demand for grocery-anchored centers and other retail services. 

Alliance Bank of Arizona is a consistent and important source of commercial real estate financing for local, regional and national developers and investors. We’re helping clients with construction and bridge loans for a range of projects, including industrial, office, retail, hospitality, senior housing and student housing, as well as subdivisions and master-planned communities.  

Paul D. Engler is EVP and chief real estate officer for Alliance Bank of Arizona, a division of Western Alliance Bank, Member FDIC. He joined Alliance Bank of Arizona in 2013. A native of Iowa, Engler’s career spans almost 30 years of commercial real estate financing and banking experience in Arizona.

Andy Federhar

Office Managing Partner
Spencer Fane LLP
Sector: Law

The strong local economy means our clients are doing more business in Phoenix, and we have grown with them to maintain our commitment to responsive and effective legal service delivery.

We have expanded the range of services our firm provides and increased in number of attorneys from three to 13 since opening our office here in 2017. We have grown from a focus on dispute resolution to additionally offer labor and employment, transactional, intellectual property and real estate advice. Spencer Fane strives to be lean, strategic and pragmatic in the advice provided, and, moving forward, we remain poised to act on our clients’ growth initiatives.

Due to the positive impact of the economy on our clients, Spencer Fane has been able to outperform the legal industry each year for the last eight years, with the firm posting 20-plus percent increases in revenue in 2017 and 2018. This growth is driven by the increased needs of our clients in growing markets like Phoenix.  

Andy Federhar serves as office managing partner for Spencer Fane LLP in Phoenix. He is an active member of Arizona’s legal community; his practice focuses on complex litigation involving real estate, government, telecommunications, procurement and insurance. He is also highly involved in the community, having served on the Arizona Board of Regents, chaired the State Transportation Board, and served as special assistant to former Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt. 

Jennifer Ward, Esq. 

Arizona President
Employers Council
Sector: Business Support

Employers Council provides HR and employment law support to companies across many industries, including those affected by the growth in the housing industry. One of the biggest effects that we’ve seen is the struggle that companies have with hiring and retaining qualified employees, particularly in the construction industry and skilled trades. With the current low unemployment rate, experienced job-seekers often have many options from which to choose and employers are faced with the challenge of differentiating themselves in a crowded field. 

Understandably, many companies in the construction industry and other trades promote managers based on their technical expertise in the trade. This often means that the new managers have little if any experience managing people. In many ways, the aptitude of their supervisors defines a company’s culture and can mean the difference between keeping and losing valuable employees. The construction and skilled trade members of our organization that have had the most success in attracting and retaining employees are those that place a high value on training their managers in in supervisory and leadership skills.  

Jennifer Ward, Esq. is the Arizona president of Employers Council, a membership-based organization that helps companies be the employers they want to be. In her role, Ward manages the company’s Arizona office and focuses on expanding its ability to provide Arizona companies with HR consulting, employment law advice, training and other HR support services in a professional, cost-effective way. 

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