We had the pleasure of sitting down with Nick Granger, Senior Project Manager to learn more about his life and what has brought him to J2H Partners. A master storyteller with a diverse background, we learned so much, and think you will too.
So let’s start at the beginning. How did you start your career?
My journey in construction started in Arizona in 1999. I had been a musician for many years and needed to supplement my income, so I started working for my friend that owned a landscaping company. I loved the industry and after a few years, I decided to start my own design-build company. We did everything from foundation work to negative edge infinity pools. This was back in 2008, so the success was short-lived - the entire industry was decimated during the housing crisis.
I had to keep moving forward and found myself in Nashville pursuing music again and working for a general contractor. I became a licensed insurance adjuster during that time because I wanted to help people, especially families.
Even though I loved Nashville - the people and culture are amazing - I missed home. Eventually, I made my way back home and landed with J2H using all of my experience to help our clients today.
Wow, what a history. Where is home for you?
I grew up in Reston, Virginia- just outside Washington DC. My family now lives in Leesburg, VA. I moved home in 2012 to be with my family again. I wanted to be a part of my nieces' and nephews' lives and watch them grow up.
Reston has changed a lot over the years, but it was designed to change. It was a master-planned community and is next to the heart of the internet [Ashburn, VA], in proximity to Washington, D.C., and next to Dulles Airport. It was a great place to grow up and where I live now. I love it.
I didn’t know all of that! What great insight. So, it seems you have a lot of experience in different types of construction - how has that experience impacted or influenced your work in commercial real estate?
I’ve worked in many different roles and disciplines in my construction career. I have been an employee and an owner. I understand what it takes to be successful at both. The greatest takeaway is I learned how to listen.
I also just love being able to see a project end-to-end. I think my experience has helped me influence good decision-making. The three main drivers of a project are budget, schedule, and scope. And it’s a balance of the three- it’s the same as residential, but on a larger scale for commercial. You’ve got to know your clients, know what’s most important to them, and find a way to work within those constraints to make their vision come to life.
What’s one thing about your job that you really love?
I enjoy working with people most. The relationships that form from having to work together as a team is so rewarding.
I also love design because of its similarities to music. There’s a language to both. Music and design should have harmony and rhythm. You have the fundamentals, the necessities, but the harmony comes in with colors, the textures, and the flow of the space.
What has been one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on to date?
I was honored to be a part of the NAACP’s Headquarters relocation to Downtown Baltimore. The NAACP works to improve political, educational, social, and economic equality for all. What an incredible experience to be able to assist such a historic and relevant organization.
The space was over 20,000 square feet and we had to utilize as much of the existing office space as possible. We wanted to tell the story of the organization. So, we decided to create a zig-zag zipper wall that as you walk through, you see different images and perceptions. The wall triangles had to decrease and increase in size in just the right way to show those images. It was complex and so meaningful.
Very cool! What a rewarding project to work on. Last question. What would you say to the younger generation that would like to get into commercial real estate?
Business is simple – pick up the phone, return calls, reply to emails, look people in the eye. Relationships are the building blocks of our industry. Learn to listen, be present, and put in the hard work. Working with people and being a great teammate- that’s what gets projects across the finish line.