In mid-August, Consolidated Investment Group (CIG) and Merage Social Impact (MSI) associates took time from their busy schedules to give back to the Denver community by cooking and serving meals at Urban Peak. Founded in 1988, Urban Peak is the only non-profit organization in Denver that provides a full convergence of services for youth (ages 15 through 24) experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Their goal is to help these youths overcome real life challenges to become self-sufficient adults. One way that Urban Peak does this is by offering an over-night shelter, where the youth can receive three meals a day.
During the week of service, associates were divided into small groups to prepare meals based on menus provided by Urban Peak. Kerry Kiley, one of the organizers of the volunteering event, said “It was refreshing to see how quickly the 24 spots filled. The general excitement to lend a hand demonstrated how CIG and MSI associates uphold the cornerstone, “we create a better world.”
Gwendolyn West, an MSI volunteer, felt that serving at Urban Peak was a great way to “bond with her fellow coworkers, show off her cooking skills, and give back to the Denver community in a meaningful and tangible way.”
Morgan Reuter, another volunteer, used the opportunity to get to know associates from CIG that she does not typically work with. Also, because Morgan was unfamiliar with Urban Peak, the volunteer opportunity helped her learn more about the organization’s mission and the youth they serve.
Due to the success of the service event, CIG and MSI are looking forward to hosting more volunteer opportunities in the future, Kerry said.
During the month of April, we (Guy Segev and Moshe Kakon of Ofek IVIC Group) conducted a business trip to the U.S., hosted by the CIG Real Estate staff.
Our visit began after almost 20 hours traveling from Israel to Denver, CO, and the jet-lag was significant. We then flew from Denver to Houston, TX, to learn about CIG’s current investments in Houston and to also learn how they are managed by the team. We also wanted to see how new investments are evaluated.
On the flight, we held an interesting staff meeting to examine two investment projects: (1) the residential tower MARQ 5250 at a prime location in the heart of Houston and (2) the multi-family residential project, Cinco Ranch, in a developing area of Houston.
We saw that the investment strategy in the Cinco project is mainly focused on the fact that the current management is quite weak and, as a result, rents are low and the property value is not at its best. This situation presents an opportunity to acquire the properly, change the management, and improve the property and then increase rents.
The investment strategy at 5250 is also interesting, having a similar goal to improve the property. This residential tower in the center of Houston was initially intended to provide A and even A+ properties but has not reached this level to date. Thus, by combining investment in the property’s appearance, focusing on the existing management (which is at a noteworthy high level) and shifting the mix of renters, we can significantly improve the property and brand it as a luxury property in Houston.
The next morning, we shifted to going over our activities in Israel, focusing on the massive investment potential in the Negev city, Be’er Sheva, and the company’s intention to promote a massive and unique rental property in Israel.
Later, we visited similar properties in order to familiarize and learn about the market and understand similar reference points. We visited the incredible Marq31 property, which is in the final building stages, and also the Water Marq project, which is situated on the shores of the Colorado River with breathtaking views.
Over the next two days, our work divided into two: On one of the days, we focused on examining potential projects in Israel with Tim and Nate; on the other day, we toured additional current CIG projects in Austin with Tim, Heidi, and Nate. In the evening, we enjoyed the traditional flavors of the Texas kitchen.
In summary, we can say that beyond being a fascinating visit filled with lots of learning, the team members that we toured with Heidi, Josh, Jason, Kerry, Nate, and Jeremy – are fantastic people.
The team has a collective drive for excellence, working well collaboratively, and we also all had fun together. Thank you very much to Tim Bertoch and David Merage for organizing the visit and for the warm welcome.
We are anxiously awaiting our next opportunity to host anyone who will come visit Israel and, of course, look forward to our next opportunity to visit in the U.S.
-Moshe and Guy
In November, Adi Boblil, Division Director of Community Development and Education of Merage Foundation Israel, visited Consolidated Investment Group (CIG) and gave a presentation on Wings, a multi-faceted program that provides support and guidance to lone immigrant soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
According to Adi, passion and ideology drive young people from all over the world to immigrate to Israel (or “make Aliyah”), leaving behind their families, friends, and the life they know. Each year, approximately 2,500 of these new immigrants join the IDF. And, through a variety of services—group workshops, enlistment preparation, and mentoring programs—Wings ensures that these soldiers do not fall through the cracks of Israeli society.
Adi noted that 72% of past participants reported that Wings helped them manage the challenges of education, finance, employment, and legal rights. Additionally, 90% of past participants had said that they planned to live in Israel after serving in the IDF.
Adi’s visit to CIG was a part of a larger trip to the United States with two lone immigrant soldiers, Maria Kol Yaakov, originally from Kazakhstan, and Tony Raichler from Venezuela. They traveled across the East Coast to share their personal stories and their experience in the Wings program.
More information about the Wings program can be found at www.wings.il.
The first week when you start at a new company is always a little nerve-wracking. Where do I park? What do I do for lunch? What is everyone’s name? That is why CIG believes it is crucial to have an effective onboarding and orientation program. The first week can leave a lasting impression on a new employee that will influence their tenure at the company, and CIG wants to ensure that initial impression is as positive as it can possible be for all of our new team members.
At CIG, a lot of time is spent planning and executing a new hire’s orientation to make sure the transition to the company is as comfortable as possible. The biggest goal of the program is to have the new associate walk out of the office on Friday afternoon after their first week feeling part of a large family and feeling no different in the way they are treated than the CEO.
All new associates have an orientation schedule tailored to their position, but for the most part, everyone goes through a similar process. On Monday morning, new associates are given a tour of the office and shown where all the office supplies are, how the kitchen is set up, and most importantly, how to work the coffee machine. They are also introduced to every single associate who explains their job title and role. Don’t worry, there is not a quiz afterwards on the names of the 50 people they just met.
On the first day, new associates will sit down with HR to do paperwork, IT to have their computer set up, legal, and accounting to go over expense reports. Throughout the week, they will meet with individuals in their department to get a sense of how they will work together and interact on a daily basis. They will also meet with all other department heads within the company to learn about all the moving parts within CIG as well as the Merage Foundations, a private family foundation that shares office space with CIG and can often be found working together on collaborative teams.
Since around 15-20 separate meetings will be scheduled during the first week, these meetings are the sole focus of the new associate when they start. If the new associate feels part of the CIG team and is happy with their choice to work at CIG by the end of this week, CIG feels they will be more productive long term. CIG and its entities are proud to have a retention rate of 80% which is well above average, and the company orientation is thought to be a large contributor to this successful achievement.
Buildings 1 and 4 are nearing completion at East Park 70. The 358,000 sf Building 1 has only site work remaining and is expected to be completed by October 7. The state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution facility will offer tenants the following features:
The rear-loaded, 81,200 sf Building 4 should be completed by October 21 with painting, site work, and fire sprinkler system installation remaining. This unique building will offer tenants the following:
CIG is working with the CBRE leasing team of Doug Viseur and Todd Witty to market both buildings to prospective tenants. Interest has been strong, especially for the large building. We currently have proposals out for the entirety of Building 1 and for more than half of Building 4.
As CIG and the Merage Foundations continue to grow, it has become a yearly tradition to celebrate our associates who reach significant milestones in their tenure with the organization. In 2016, we are happy to acknowledge the following associates for their years of service:
35 Years, Sandy Hancock, Manager of Finance
10 Years, Nate Miles, Portfolio Manager
10 Years, Sue Renner, Executive Director
5 Years, Shawna Jewell, Corporate Reporting & PE Accounting Manager
5 Years, Christy Gano, Accountant
5 Years, Rebecca O’Hearn, Sr. Controller
3 Years, Joy Jiang, Accountant
3 Years, Cheryl Lasher, Sr. Accountant – Tax and Investments
3 Years, Mike Crawford, General Manager
3 Years, Kelly Clement, Sr. Investment Analyst
3 Years, Justin Sutter, Aviation Maintenance Manager
On June 10, these associates were honored at a company-wide event at TopGolf in Centennial. Years of Service Awards were presented during lunch by David Merage, and afterwards, everyone divided into teams for some friendly golf competitions. Please join us in congratulating each of these valuable associates for their dedicated service and contributions to CIG and the Merage Foundations over the years. Well done!
Consolidated Investment Group’s Private Equity Division identifies great companies in the CPG space for investment opportunities. In doing so, we don’t only look at the company’s performance when we evaluate it, we actually try the product and make sure it passes our requirements. Every time a member of the Private Equity team tries a product, he or she makes sure the product looks good, tastes good, smells good, and the structure of the product is right. It’s very important to cook everything correctly. And, sometimes cooking instructions do not work well in Denver’s high altitude! After initial taste tasting, if we decide to invest in the company, we check the quality of the product every week. That’s right – every single week!
Funky Chunky, one of our companies, is one of the employee’s favorite. It’s very easy to sample and it’s always at the highest level of quality.
When we buy a food company, we want to ensure the product is always getting better, and we always want to ensure new products that are launched are of top quality. In order to do so, every Thursday at noon, CIG’s Private Equity team cooks different samples to ensure the highest quality food production for our managed companies. The team spends hours testing, smelling, and discussing ideas to improve the quality of the products. Our CEO, David Merage, even takes his turn cooking.
If for some reason the product doesn’t reach our standards, we make sure to give suggestions on what could be done better. The team of professionals at CIG always has great ideas that can help in the future manufacturing of the products. After that, we send our suggestions to our managed companies and we try the product the next Thursday again. If the product tastes good this time after the improvements are made, you will see it on the shelves of your local store.
David Merage and the Private Equity team invite all CIG associates to participate in the taste testing to get a variety of perspectives and ideas. It’s a Thursday highlight at CIG for sure!
On April 28, CIG & Merage Foundations had their first take your daughter and son to work day invitation. The half day was filled with 16 young leaders, who enjoyed food, laughter, games, and learning about their parents work responsibilities. The children were able to explore the work environment, learn about professional conduct, and invited to taste test a pasta product that was under evaluation by the company.
In addition to learning about their parents work and daily structure, the children were able to complete a craft that provided each child the opportunity to support Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each child took home their individually made pinwheel in honor of children who may be in less than desirable situations. The day continued with conversations about what they would like to do when they are of working age. Some shared that they want to do what their parents are doing and help other people because it feels good, and others shared that they want to be doctors, lawyers, and web designers. When the children were asked if they would like to visit again, without hesitation they all agreed both verbally and with a show of hands, they certainly want to return to their parent’s work place and learn more about what they do daily and eat pizza!
Consolidated Investment Group encourages its employees to volunteer and give back to the community, while having fun. That’s why we decided to partner with Project Helping and KyndHub to encourage and track the many ways in which our associates are helping their communities. Through the KyndHub platform, CIG can create challenges between coworkers to show acts of kindness and in volunteering and making donations to nonprofits of their choosing.
Project Helping is a non for profit started in April of 2014 to improve mental wellness through volunteering and help communities. They organize volunteer events designed to make an impact on both the community as well as the volunteer, through creating and practicing “kindfulness.”
KyndHub is an online social media and tracking platform created to compel people, companies and organizations to give back. Using KyndHub, you can create challenges for your group around volunteer hours, donations and random acts of kindness. The goal is to change the world through the power of giving back.
CIG is proud to partner with Project Helping, and to bring this engaging method for giving back to our team members!
Caesar’s Pasta LLC, a CIG Company, introduced their new Caesar’s Kitchen line at the 2016 Expo West Natural Foods Show this week. Caesar’s Kitchen will carry on the 45-year tradition of Caesar’s Pasta with a continued focus on quality ingredients and product offerings.
The new products feature chef-inspired, flavorful, convenient meals, in the highly sought after Certified Organic and Certified Gluten-Free varieties. The new entrée items include: Gluten-Free Buffalo Style Chicken Mac & Cheese, Gluten-Free 3 Cheese Herb Rigatoni & Meat Sauce, Organic Tuscan Garden 4 Cheese Ravioli, and Organic Asiago Mushroom Penne Pasta.