60, CEO, Highwoods Properties
UNC Chapel Hill, B.S.
Fritsch has led the office real-estate investment trust since 2004. Over the last decade, its total return far outpaced eight publicly traded REIT rivals. The payoff for Fritsch: more than $4 million in annual compensation. Last year he handed off the president’s title to Tom Klinck, who joined the company in 2012. As of October, Highwoods’ development pipeline totaled $658 million, with 96% of space preleased. Most of its current projects under development are in Atlanta, Nashville and Raleigh. The largest is a $285 million Nashville headquarters building for technology-services firm Asurion. Investment firms BlackRock and Vanguard Group own more than a quarter of its shares.
What are North Carolina’s key challenges?
Workforce and branding. Our state is at full employment across all pay scales and areas of expertise, so we need to stay honed on training and teaching all those seeking a trade or education. In addition, we need to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our high-school, college and technical-school graduates here at home to lead, form and support existing, new and relocated businesses.
From a branding perspective, there is a delta between how we perceive ourselves versus how those outside our state perceive us. To change that, we need improved unity and less divisiveness. North Carolina is the place to live, raise a family, attend school, work and play. North Carolina provides a business-friendly environment, favorable cost of doing business, high quality of life, in-line cost of living and plentiful community amenities that are second to none. We need a fortified, forward-looking branding effort.
Share an insight about your community.
The Triangle area is one of the best communities on the globe. It is an economically diverse business community and not dependent on any one business sector, plus we have the ballast of state government. We have amazing universities, world-class health care, terrific interstate access, exceptional community leaders, a tremendous park system, an ever-improving airport, superb recreational areas, a hardworking workforce and a hockey team that will one day bring the Cup back home.
What is something people don’t know about you?
During my high-school years, I was an N.C. State fan. Watching the men’s basketball team capture the national championship in 1974 was epic in our Knightdale neighborhood and at our high school.
What advice do you share with newcomers?
I’m a firm believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s rule that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery. As folks join our team, we strive to ensure they either have a strong appetite to put the time in to be successful in their field of work or bring a true level of expertise.