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Michael Alterman admits the line between his personal and professional lives is nearly non-existent – and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I don’t really separate the two,” says Alterman, COO of Atlanta-based HT Group. “My job is a major part of who I am. Fortunately, my staff and I do what we love.
“It’s important to us that we come into work with a positive attitude,” Alterman adds. “Each day is exciting and different, and there’s nothing else I’d rather do.”
For Alterman, a career in commercial real estate management and development is a natural fit, as his family has a long history in the Atlanta retail market dating back to the early 20th century, when his great-grandfather opened a grocery store in the city. That single store spawned Alterman Foods, led by president Sam Alterman – Michael’s grandfather – which owned hundreds of grocery stores in the Southeast before selling them in 1980. After the sale, the family retained ownership of the shopping centers the stores were located in under the name Alterman Real Estate.
“I was walking around shopping centers collecting rent when I was 10 years old,” he adds. “Real estate was something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Since joining HT Group, Alterman has led property acquisition and diversification efforts. The company, founded in 1994, owns 26 commercial properties and manages more than 12 properties for other owners.
In addition to property management and development, HT Group also provides facility maintenance and general contracting through Southeast Facility Services, a sister company. “We’ve found new streams of revenue in addition to what we own and operate, and despite the economy,” he says. Alterman has negotiated more than 70 leases in the last two years, he says. “We’ve been able to work creatively with large national tenants despite a struggling retail market, and are fortunate to have the ability to make significant investment with national retailers to get deals done.”
Many of the owners HT Group manages properties for are smaller, “mom and pop” operations. “These are owners who need professional management services but can’t necessarily afford the often astronomical fees that larger firms would charge,” Alterman says. “Our overhead is offset by our own properties, so we can afford to offer third-party services at discounted rates.”
Alterman calls the company’s growth during his tenure the proudest accomplishment of his career. “We’ve been able to grow by 20 percent and create successful start-ups as well as increase our asset management services,” he says. “It is time-consuming, and there is stress involved, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m the kind of person that if I’m not moving, I’m bored.”