Client Interview: Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Posted on December 7, 2017

Interview with Rick Lauer of Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Our team has been serving Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) before Foundry Commercial was created. Our relationship with LCEF goes back more than 15 years to the Trammell Crow Company days. It began as a brokerage relationship whereby Matt Messier and his father, Richard Messier, would help sell challenged real estate in the Southeast. Since that time, it has blossomed into a full-service account with Foundry Commercial, providing national brokerage, property management, asset management and consulting services. LCEF is a one-in-a-million type of client. During our relationship, we have been able to drive value throughout their company, help them through challenging times, lower their risk and develop lasting friendships. They are the consummate partner and we are grateful for their continued trust in our platform and for the developed friendships with several LCEF staff members.

Foundry Commercial: When did you start working with Foundry Commercial and what compelled you to use them for your specific needs? 

Rick Lauer: Foundry Commercial has a history with LCEF that pre-dates my involvement, and because of that, they were asked to participate in an RFP for being LCEF’s full-service provider of real estate services. Foundry Commercial was easily the top choice, primarily for their willingness and ability to provide one-stop shopping nationwide, but more importantly, it was their ministry heart and their deep understanding of the dynamics involved in selling and servicing church-related properties.

FC: Business relationships can often feel very transactional and void of real substance and authenticity. How has Foundry been different?

RL: I have had many great business relationships in the past with service providers but none that match the professionalism and authenticity of Foundry over the past eight-plus years. Working for and with a ministry transcends normal business thinking and purpose for all involved.

FC: We talk a lot about driving value. Without driving value for your organization, we would still be friends but we would likely end our business relationship because our job is to help you achieve results, meet objectives, etc. How has Foundry Commercial driven value for your organization?

RL: We will always be friends, no doubt about that. But it is true that this is just icing on the cake because if value is not derived within the relationship, then we are being unfair to the ministry. Foundry has gained the highest level of confidence within LCEF and the district offices by the accomplishments we have achieved through the partnership. An example of this is that we currently have $22 million of property under contract, which if successful, will free up many more dollars for ministry. The best part about all of this is that we have barely scratched the surface on what this partnership can accomplish in other areas of real estate services. 

FC: We prefer to be referenced as a partner but not just as a preference in title - in the trust meaning of the word. What does partner mean to you, and how is our relationship an example of that?

RL: Partnership to me is very simple. It is honest and dedicated people working together in a trusted relationship to provide services and support that each feel are the best available anywhere. Partnerships that work make each partner better than they would be without 
the other. 

FC: As Foundry Commercial has grown, you and LCEF have been there since day one. What has changed from day one and what hasn’t?

RL: LCEF really hasn’t changed dramatically from what we do as a core ministry, but I can’t say the same for Foundry. The most amazing thing is that even though Foundry has experienced great growth in several geographic areas, the same core team of Foundry leaders still continue to service LCEF and me personally with 100-percent dedication, masking all of the other additional complexities I know they have added to their workload over these years of high growth. It is a testament of their fierce loyalty to the partnership and their genuine heart for our ministry.

FC: We have a lot of fox hole experiences over the years. What are some of your more memorable experiences with the team? (Yes, they can include Matt’s jokes while on the road!)

RL: Being with the Foundry group is always a special occasion, and although there are probably some stories to tell (especially when I went on vacation to Tennessee with Matt), the most memorable experiences I have had are when I would go to the Da Vinci room and watch the Foundry leadership team give up a big portion of their day to engage in seeking to understand our ministry challenges. Like a fine-tuned orchestra, watch them collectively communicate their expertise in a very thoughtful discussion while Nick captures the entire experience in an amazingly artistic and meaningful way.

FC:What do you look forward to in the future?

RL: There is so much more Foundry can help us with as we expand into real estate services outside of our traditional brokerage services. Foundry plays such a large part of the hope we have in being able to provide additional assistance to our congregations and schools, which in turn keeps LCEF relevant to our customers. This “extended hands” service offered by Foundry will be key in taking our services to the next level. No doubt, Foundry Commercial will continue to be a blessing to our ministry in the future!