How it Began
In 1921, Maxwell Cummings leased 440 Saint Catherine Street in Montreal. After achieving success as a shoe salesman, he signed the $400 per month lease with the intention of opening his own shoe store. Just a few weeks later, he found a restaurant operator to take half of the space for $400 per month. Soon thereafter, he found another businessman to take the balance of the space at a handsome profit. This was the end of Maxwell’s shoe career and the beginning of a real estate story that spanned over 70 years. Over the next several decades, he and his sons Robert and Jack participated in the development of several residential and commercial projects in Canada and the United States.
Fifty-five years later, Ram’s founder (Peter D. Cummings) moved to South Florida to start his own real estate career. His first endeavor as a salesman involved the condominium conversion of a beachfront rental apartment community in Palm Beach. His toughest customer was Max M. Fisher, the legendary industrialist, real estate investor, and philanthropist. Peter failed to make the sale but wound up gaining a father-in-law and real estate investment mentor.
How it Evolved
In 1978, Peter formed Southern Realty Group for the purpose of developing Martin Downs, a 2,600-acre master planned community located in Martin County, Florida. Today, Martin Downs contains over 4,000 homes, 500,000 square feet of commercial space, a marina, 54 holes of golf, a town center, nursing home, assisted-living facility, and several civic uses. Developing a community of that size required an ability to work with government, understand the consumer, pay attention to detail, and most importantly, be patient and persistent. The experience, knowledge, and reputation generated during this 25-year project still shapes the Company a full generation later.
Following substantial completion of Martin Downs, Peter Cummings formed the predecessor entity to Ram to continue the development and acquisition of commercial and residential projects. Ram CEO Casey Cummings joined the Company in 1991 as it began to expand into commercial and multifamily redevelopment. In 1996, the Company attracted other high net worth families to co-invest in its projects. The Company’s operating name was changed to Ram Realty Services in 2000 to better reflect the Company’s evolving investment strategy and capital sources.
How it Transformed
Beginning in 2001, several of Ram’s projects were structured as institutional joint ventures. In 2004, Ram raised Community Reinvestment Partners, a special mandate private equity real estate fund, targeting value-add retail investments in low and moderate income areas. In 2007, Ram raised Fund II, its first discretionary fund with a broad investment strategy, continuing the firm’s historical development and value-add activities. Several of the early Fund II investments were placed on hold during the Global Financial Crisis. Between 2009 and 2011, the Company acquired 60 defaulted and/or sub-performing loans, all secured by retail and multifamily properties as collateral. While the investment strategy evolved as a result of market conditions, the Southeastern geographic and multifamily and retail sector focus remained unchanged.
Ram held the initial closing of Fund III in the fall of 2011 to continue its comprehensive investment strategy, specifically focused on distressed debt and value-add acquisitions. Ram held the initial closing for Fund IV in the summer of 2015 with a similar strategy to Funds II & III, with a reduced focus on distressed debt and an increased appetite for development.
In 2010, Casey Cummings was promoted to Chief Executive Officer and the firm added a new Principal and President – Jim Stine. During that year, the Company further expanded operations in North Carolina, adding a regional office in Charlotte. Two additional members of the senior management team, Karen Geller and Jennifer Stull-Wise became Principals in 2011 and 2014 respectively. As part of the succession plan, Casey Cummings acquired Peter Cummings’ remaining interest in the Company in 2015, allowing for an increased sharing of incentive compensation among team members.