Jason Hughes has his sights set on expanding his San Diego-based company. The Hughes Marino CEO already has award-winning offices sprinkled throughout California in Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and East Bay. In addition, he has offices in Seattle, Denver, and New York.
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From fun corporate amenities such as gourmet chef’s kitchens, cozy break rooms, and cutting-edge fitness facilities, Jason Hughes is committed to offering his team members the best corporate environments available. The ambitious tenant representation expert is planning to expand his fleet of offices and he’s scouting four potential cities for his newest digs.
“All of our growth has come organically,” he says. “Initially, I had always thought we’d just be a San Diego company.”
San Diego Is Where It Started for Jason Hughes
Years ago, as the industry-leading firm flourished, Jason Hughes’ son Tucker wanted to join the family business but didn’t want to infringe on operations in San Diego, so he opened an office in Orange County.
“He convinced my wife, Shay, and I that he wanted to open up an Orange County location, which he had never really spent time in,” he says. “We’ve driven through Orange County to go to LA, but we never imagined that we would be opening our second office there.”
While the couple was hesitant at first, the Orange County office got the green light. “Tucker persuaded us to open up a small office up there and he was very successful with it,” he says. “We are very proud of our OC team. We have amazing professionals who are providing exceptional service to our OC client base and beyond.”
While Tucker then set his sights on New York, they weren’t ready for him to venture so far from home, so the Los Angeles office was a prime compromise.
From San Diego to a Seattle State of Mind
Soon after, Owen Rice, who is now lead broker at HM in Seattle, came to Jason Hughes and Shay to pitch the idea of opening a Seattle branch.
Hughes says Rice had spent some time on the firm’s website and he was impressed by what he saw. “And he said, ‘Hey, there’s a need for Hughes Marino in Seattle, and I’d really like you to consider me and my partner, Gavin Curtis, [for] opening up that office. Is that something you and Shay would consider doing?’”
Although the husband-wife duo initially had concerns about an out-of-state office, Rice and Curtis flew down to meet with Jason and Shay in person, and the Seattle office was soon opened.
After that, San Francisco would be the next office to pop up. “We had Cale Miller and Cameron Love come to us and say, ‘Hey, look, we’ve done a lot of business with you,’” Jason Hughes says. “‘We’re leaving our current company. Would you guys open up an office up here, because we’d like to be part of it.’ And that’s how our San Francisco office came to be.” They brought with them Kam Schroeder from JLL to lead the East Bay (Walnut Creek) location.
Kevin Brennan, who was previously a top broker at Cushman & Wakefield, also joined the team. One of his private equity clients asked Brennan why he’d joined HM, and after hearing his enthusiastic response, asked if he would share his experience with his brother-in-law, a top broker in Denver for JLL. After a multihour discussion, Billy Byrne and several other brokers from the Denver market flew out to San Diego to meet with Jason and Shay. Once again, they found themselves in a familiar situation. And that’s how the Denver office was organically added to the HM roster.
On the East Coast, pre-pandemic, Jason Hughes says he had nearly 30 people approach him about opening branches of his brand. At the time, he and Shay opted out because it didn’t feel like the right moment. They’ve never wanted to bring people onto their team without defined purpose and intention. “We’re very protective of what we have and what we’re trying to do on a go-forward basis,” he adds.
Jason Hughes Prioritizes Passion Over Profit
For Jason Hughes and Shay, expansion has always been a discerning process. “It’s all about the people for us. We want good, good people,” he says. “Shay is fixated on it. She will not let any bad apples get in. They could be making $20 million a year. She doesn’t care.”
The duo remain headquartered in San Diego, but they’re open to what the future holds for HM.
“If you can earn a great living, really enjoy the journey, do exceptional work for your clients, and have wonderful teammates and partnerships, that’s what it’s all about,” he says.