Industry Spotlight: Renee Lewis

Insights» Industry Spotlight - Originate Report

November 1, 2020by Originate Report Team

Read the full November edition of Originate Report here.

How has your outlook of the private lending industry changed in light of the new normal?

I’m not sure if it is a change or a reminder of the basics.  As a lender, it is important to understand the business plan on the property, to ensure that interests are aligned, and to thoroughly underwrite the opportunity.  From a borrower’s perspective, it is also important to understand your lender – to know where their capital is coming from, their experience in more challenging markets, and their reputation for fairness.

What are you doing differently today to move your company forward than you were 6 months ago?

As we had staff in several offices across the country, we already had a fairly robust system and practice regarding communication, videoconferencing, and working across offices, which has become even more developed and engrained over the past six months.  There have been some changes in the types of deals we are seeing, such as increased multifamily and industrial as some other funding sources have become less active.

How has your company evolved since its inception? (ie: new products, new divisions, grown, merged, etc?)

Bloomfield is over 12 years old and has grown significantly – with transactions in 36 states and counting.  In 2017, a company I had founded, Var Capital, merged into Bloomfield which led to a significant increase in staff and support of offices in Portland, ME, as well as NYC, Chicago, and Denver. We also opened a Los Angeles office in 2018 and have grown our West coast presence significantly.

What is something most people don’t know about your company?

There are more women employed at Bloomfield than men!

What has been the highlight so far in your career?

There have been several iterations or projects that were particularly memorable: In an effort to blend an interest in public policy with my real estate career, I grew a government services division of one of the companies I founded. I had several interesting assignments including working as part of the team that developed and implemented HUD’s Mark to Market program, promoting affordable housing and saving the government significant money.  Closer to today’s opportunities, I developed a specialty in distressed debt acquisitions and was responsible for the underwriting and purchase of over 1,000 commercial real estate loans during the last cycle.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would advise myself to jump at opportunities.

What piece of advice did you personally receive early in your career that has helped shaped the decisions you’ve made?

My father had a sign in his office that said, “Experience is what you get when you expected something else.”  It was a message about keeping perspective, finding the lesson in the experience and applying it next time.

Tell us about a person or organization you admire. How have they made an important impact on you, the industry, or the world?

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to work as an intern for John Glenn, the astronaut and Senator.  While there is so much to admire about Sen. Glenn – from the Right Stuff it took to join the space program and become the first person to orbit the Earth, to his terms as Senator even a short run for the presidency. His impact on the world was significant.  More personally, the impact he had on me related to his curiosity, intelligence, and humble demeanor.  He honed in on the essence of an issue, asked great questions, made decisions, and treated everyone well.

How have you turned a career mistake or failure into success in your career?

I joined a large company several years into my career for which I relocated and took on a plethora of new areas and responsibilities.  I learned an incredible amount, but found the organization to be difficult and the path, particularly for women, to be bleak.  Taking the position was a mistake in many ways.  However, that frustration served as the impetus for me to leave the company and, with one of my colleagues, to begin a new, woman-owned firm.

What do you predict for the future in private lending through the end of this year and beyond?

I anticipate a busy year with projects having some level of business or capital distress.  Rescue capital and distressed opportunities will be balanced with lending opportunities on higher quality transactions.  I think it will take time for markets to recover, and the opportunity will be with those who have ready capital and a bit of patience.

If you had a clean slate to start over and do anything you wanted to do, what would that be?

Well, I wanted to be a veterinarian – but this has worked out pretty well!

How do you want to be remembered? What have you done to cultivate that feeling from others?

I think it is incredibly important to give back to the community – however, you define that community (your city, industry, charities, college, etc.).  I hope that I am remembered for helping others, and for bringing insight, humor, and ethics to my endeavors.