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Executive Profile: Robert Freed, president and CEO of SummerHill Homes and Urban Housing Group

October 26, 2012 | San Francisco Business Times

By Blanca Torres

HQ: San Ramon.

Background: Freed joined SummerHill Homes as president and CEO in 2007. Before that, he worked for KB Home for 13 years and rose to senior vice president of investment strategy. He started out as a certified public accountant and held CFO positions at Davidon Homes and Blackhawk Corp. SummerHill, which focuses on single-family homes, is integrating Urban Housing Group, which builds multifamily housing, into one firm called SummerHill Housing Group. Both divisions are owned by Marcus & Millichap and have a combined 80 employees. The single-family component has six active projects in the Bay Area, while the multifamily side has more than 900 units in its Bay Area pipeline.

First job: Holding a survey stick for Jerry Lohr (of J. Lohr Wines) for the first home he built in Saratoga.

Education: B.S., economics, the University of California, Los Angeles.

Residence: Calistoga.

Business Strategy

How’s business: Both the for-sale side of the business and the for-rent are strong right now. That’s a direct result of the job growth and healthy economy that we’re fortunate enough to be experiencing.

Biggest challenge for your business: One is obtaining high quality sites for residential development and that’s both a function of a limited number of opportunities and very strong competition. Second, the planning and approval process in our cities is very challenging.

What’s going to change at your company in the next year: The integration of the two development organziations. ... It’s both a rebranding and looking for synergy within the two organizations, sharing knowledge and sharing resources.

Goal yet to be achieved: To create a recession-proof developer.

How will you know that you’ve achieved it: You’ll have to talk to me after the next downturn.

Management Philosophy

Guiding principles for good management: I’m a strong believer in candor and quality of conversation and messaging. I’m a strong believer in accountability and fostering dissenting opinions within the company to help ensure issues are properly vetted.

Best way to keep competitive edge: I try to surround myself with really smart people, not only people I work with, but networking and quality conversations with the best of my competition.

Why people like working for you: I’m very respectful. ... They also must enjoy my sarcasm and appreciate that I am accountable for what we do. The best assesment of how you’re doing is how well you retain employees and attract new talent.

Mentor: My grandfather, Louis Freed.

Judgment Calls

Best business decision: To work for KB Home ... The learning opportunities I had there set up me for the opportunity to be at SummerHill.

Hardest lesson learned and how you learned it: There were times when I would not be as clear and candid as I am today. It was not very effective. One of my employees at KB Home pointed it out to me and it was very eye opening.

Toughest business decision: Going to KB. I lived in Northern California, and I (had to) relocate to Southern California. It was very disruptive to my children.

Biggest missed opportunity: Missing out on buying or tying up sites in the Bay Area 18 months ago. The market has rebounded stronger than I anticipated.

True Confessions

Like best about job: I love the challenge I feel with and from the people I work with. They are very dedicated people.

Like least about job: Indvidivuals or organizations that oppose our developments without knowing the facts, without respecting the process and with oftentimes very selfish motivations.

Pet peeve: People who are very quick to judge others.

Most respected competitor: Sares Regis Group of Northern California.

First choice for a new career: Teaching some level of college.


Most influential book: “What Happy People Know,” by Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth.

Favorite cause: Affordable housing.

Favorite movie: “Top Gun.”

Favorite restaurant: Press in St. Helena.

On your iPod: I listen to a lot of jazz.

Automobile: Mercedes E 550.


View full article HERE


SummerHill Homes is a nationally-recognized home builder focusing on the unique needs of the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California. SHH has earned recognition and respect as one of the nation’s premier residential community builders. The company is renowned for developing specialized single-family detached and multi-family housing communities in established residential settings throughout California. Since its inception in 1976, SummerHill Homes’s goals have been to provide quality homes for its customers, Communities of Distinction for cities, and sound business opportunities for its partners.


SummerHill Apartment Communities is the leader in providing quality, smart growth, multi-family rental housing and mixed-use developments located throughout the western United States. SHAC defines excellence in customer relationships, the quality of products and in every aspect of operations. Criteria for site development are highly selective to meet the company’s objectives. SHAC uses extensive market analysis to identify housing needs, and then customizes each development to achieve the highest potential.

Contact Us

Get in touch with SummerHill Housing Group by contacting us today.

3000 Executive Parkway
San Ramon, CA 94583

PH (925) 244-7500
FX (925) 244-7501


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