How a fact-finding mission changed the way one company does business
An unexpected passion for flying has helped Mike McVean dramatically expand his business. While shopping for a company airplane, the Texas real estate entrepreneur fell in love with flying and embarked on a four-and-a-half-year journey to earn every pilot license possible.
In 1996, McVean and Lee Belland co-founded Stream Realty Partners in Dallas, Texas. Their first office building acquisition totaled just $900,000. Today, Stream Realty’s 650 employees acquire, develop, manage and lease commercial and multi-family properties, tallying $1.6 billion in real estate transactions annually.
McVean credits Stream Realty’s success to reaching several goals: a well-balanced portfolio, the good karma that comes with treating people well, reading the market and being open to new opportunities. When those new opportunities were in faraway cities, having access to business aircraft allowed the Stream Realty team to add and manage those remote offices.
“Business aircraft have been extremely helpful in growing our business.”Mike McVean, co-founder of Stream Realty Partners
“A lot of our expansion came out of my flying. The first offices we opened were in places that a single-engine piston Bonanza® could get to. We started in Dallas and opened offices in San Antonio, Austin and Houston. Then we expanded out of state as I started flying bigger and bigger airplanes. Now we’re in ten cities,” said McVean.
In addition to its Texas locations, Stream Realty operates offices in Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Newport Beach, California; and Washington, D.C. The company oversees more than 120 million square feet of space around the country.
“The most important thing that an aircraft does for me in business is give me the freedom to spend as much time as I need to with my employees. Time is the most important thing I can share with them. Having the flexibility to spend an extra hour, day or week without worrying about catching a commercial flight is invaluable,” McVean said.
The entrepreneur took his first flight lesson in September 2007. What started out as a fact-finding mission quickly turned into a quest to become a pilot.
“When I started shopping for airplanes, I realized the sales guys were speaking another language. I didn’t understand what they were saying. I thought I would take a couple of flying lessons and get a book to look up the terminology so I could better understand,” said McVean. “I took one lesson, and I loved it. I was hooked. I wanted to learn to fly.”
“I went through all of the licenses and ratings without pause. When I finished my private pilot’s license, the next day I started my instrument. As soon as I completed my instrument, I started on my commercial and multi-engine. I just kept going, even earning my ATP (Airline Transport Pilot), the highest level certificate.”
Annual flight time for Stream Realty’s aircraft
Stream Realty Partners took delivery of a Citation Mustang in May 2012 and purchased a Cessna Citation V Ultra a year later. The company utilizes the aircraft mostly for transporting McVean and others between offices as well as entertaining customers and employees.
“The Ultra is our company bus. When we have a large group of customers or employees to transport, we take the Ultra. The Mustang is like my car. I take it everywhere,” said McVean, who has more than 2,000 flight hours.
“Before using the Ultra, we do a quick cost-benefit analysis. If it makes sense and if it’s important for an employee or a customer, we’ll do it—that’s the whole point of having it.”Mike McVean, co-founder of Stream Realty Partners
For him, the aircraft are more than transportation. They make what once seemed impossible possible, especially because his Citation Mustang allows him to take off without worrying about anyone else’s schedules.
“We wouldn’t have offices in other states if I wasn’t a pilot,” he said. “We would just be in Texas. I would have had my pilot fly among those cities and never thought about going into California or Denver.”