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Front & Center: Kiemle Hagood co-owner, board chairman Tom Quigley building community through commercial real estate

Tom Quigley, who joined Kiemle Hagood in 1975, became co-owner in 1987 and served as company president and CEO from 2001 to 2013.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Tom Quigley, who joined Kiemle Hagood in 1975, became co-owner in 1987 and served as company president and CEO from 2001 to 2013. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Kiemle Hagood co-owner and board chair Tom Quigley has been building community throughout his 46-year career in commercial real estate.

Quigley was hired as a commercial real estate salesman for Kiemle Hagood in 1975, became manager of the firm’s brokerage division in 1980, a co-owner in 1987 and served as president and CEO of the company from 2001 to 2013.

The company is one of Spokane’s larger property management and commercial real estate firms. Its portfolio consists of more than 8 million square feet of office, retail, medical office, industrial and general commercial space, including 1,400 apartment units.

Quigley will be selling his ownership in Kiemle Hagood and retiring from the company effective Jan. 1.

“I’ve been blessed. I’ve been very, very fortunate for a long time to get to work with the people I get to work with,” he said. “That’s what it boils down to. It’s all about people.”

Seeing the signs

A Spokane native, Quigley graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University’s College of Business and Economics – now known as the Carson College of Business – in 1975.

His grandfather, Jack, founded Spokane Neon Sign Co. in the 1930s and later passed the business down to Quigley’s father, Glenn.

Quigley, who worked at the shop sweeping floors and servicing signs while growing up, was next in line to take over ownership of the family business.

“I had never really worked anywhere else and was intending to take it over and see what we could do with it,” he said. “But I got home from school and after several months, my dad had an unsolicited offer to purchase the business.”

Quigley said taking over the business, however, was not as good of a fit as he had initially anticipated, and he supported his father’s choice to sell the sign business in August 1975.

“I have a service-oriented personality, and I knew that at some point I was going to want to be in a leadership role wherever I landed – that my vision for myself would probably involve business ownership in some manner,” he said.

Kiemle Hagood

While Quigley was exploring a career path, he met for lunch with his then- girlfriend and now wife Kelly’s father, Ed Kiemle, who co-founded Kiemle Hagood with Jerry Hagood in 1971.

That lunch led to a meeting with Hagood.

“Jerry offered me a position as a rookie 23-year-old commercial real estate sales guy, and so I went to work,” said Quigley, adding his first transaction was a five-unit apartment building near Maple Street and Ninth Avenue.

In 1980, he was promoted to manager of the company’s brokerage division, which oversees sale and leasing of office, industrial, investment, retail, multifamily and general commercial properties.

“I went about searching for the best and most highly respected licensees in the market with a mentality that it was going to take time to do it right,” he said.

Quigley became an owner of the company in 1987. After Kiemle retired in 1990 and Hagood in 2000, Quigley, Larry Soehren and Jeff Johnson acquired remaining interest in the company. Johnson later left the company and Gordon Hester, Kiemle Hagood’s current president and CEO, became the third owner in 2007, according to documents from the Washington Secretary of State.

“It’s a business that I have enjoyed for 46 years, I find it interesting – because I don’t think that this much occurs anymore – to have found something that you can be passionate about,” Quigley said. “I believe in providing a quality level of service in an organization that had a culture and a desire to do it right.”

A growing presence

Kiemle Hagood has more than 180 employees in its five offices in Washington, Idaho and Montana.

“We have gone from a kind of a local Spokane commercial real estate service provider to a bit more of a regional presence,” Quigley said. “I’m very proud of the job that my partners have done in initiating that growth.”

Quigley, who also had a hand in Kiemle Hagood’s growth, was among a team that partnered with Washington Water Power – now Avista Corp. – to recruit Boeing to the West Plains.

“It was a really exciting day, frankly, looking at how much power they might need, what a transaction needed to look like and how could we make sure that we solidified the opportunity to have Boeing’s presence in Spokane,” Quigley said. “That night, we wrote an offer on a piece of property that became the (Boeing) site out near the airport.”

In 1990, Boeing Co. opened the factory at 1514 S. Flint Road and produced a variety of composite and thermoplastic aircraft parts. The aerospace giant sold the building to Triumph Composite Systems Inc. in 2003.

Spokane-based private equity firm Lakeside Capital Group purchased the building from Triumph earlier this year and is redeveloping it to attract manufacturing tenants.

Navigating the real estate industry

Quigley said there’s been numerous challenges for the real estate industry over the years.

“Many of them sort of occurred beyond our control. In the late 70s and early 80s, interest rates were through the roof. They were 18 to 20%,” Quigley said. “You couldn’t sell a piece of real estate if you were trying to buy it yourself. It was very challenging.”

The Great Recession was also a challenging time for commercial real estate firms, prompting Kiemle Hagood to make “hard decisions” around employee compensation, Quigley said.

“But we’re very proud of the fact that all through the Great Recession, we never laid off a single person. Not one. As a matter of fact, we actually grew by several,” Quigley said. “So in our case, we made some tough decisions to cope with the business challenges but did so with an eye toward the huge responsibility we feel for our 180 employees.”

Making a difference

Civic service is important to Quigley, who has served on several state industry and community boards throughout his career.

Quigley is a member of the Seattle-based Commercial Brokers Association and founding board member of the Washington State Commercial Association of Realtors, an organization in which he served as president in 1997.

He’s held a variety of committee roles with WSU and served on the boards of Greater Spokane Incorporated, Spokane Area Economic Development Council, Big Brothers & Sisters of Spokane County and many others.

Quigley said community involvement was a standard question when interviewing job candidates.

“It’s the mentality of, ‘Are you willing to give back?’ I think that one person in a town like this can make a difference,” he said. “And as a result of that, we should put an effort forward.”

The next level

Quigley is looking forward to spending time with family and traveling with his wife after he retires from Kiemle Hagood.

He has been a world traveler since he took a trip to Europe at age 17 via the People to People Student Ambassador Program. So far, he’s visited 40 countries.

“I’ve just had a wanderlust and such an enjoyment out of traveling and exploring new things. I don’t mind getting off an airplane in a place I’ve never been before,” he said. “Frankly, there’s still parts of this country that I haven’t seen very much of … there’s no question that Kelly and I will continue to travel as much as we can.”

Quigley said he’ll also remain somewhat involved in real estate, as he has investments under group ownership. Kiemle Hagood is in the process of developing a phased, mixed-use residential project on a 15-acre site on the South Hill.

“I’ve got lots of projects I’m involved in. I will probably keep a small office (at Kiemle Hagood) for a while, anyway,” he said. “But, I’m nearly 70 years old. It’s time for a much younger generation to take this thing to the next level.”

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