In this series, we are introducing the GSH partners and giving you insights into their lives, their views, and philosophies.
As a mechanical engineer by training, if you had asked Hannan whether he’d be an entrepreneur and a real estate investor, he likely would have said a resounding no. But over the course of his 40+ year career, he’s discovered that it was a natural path. Hannan is passionate about building things, a passion that’s particularly strong when it comes to building businesses that make people’s lives better.
For 20 years, Hannan had the good fortune of developing a group of Weight Watchers franchises into a large multinational business, and his exit provided him with some capital to invest.
“I tried to invest in companies where I could add value, and so for a long time, I didn’t invest in real estate because I didn’t feel like there was a niche where I could truly bring value,” shares Hannan. That changed several years ago thanks to a couple of passive property opportunities, a few friendships, and a chance coffee meeting.
Hannan first entered the real estate industry as a limited partner in some apartment deals with a friend of our team, Matt Lester. He had also invested in a small portfolio of single family homes with another friend Rick Radner, who sadly passed away a few years ago. After Rick’s passing, Hannan called Gideon, who he’d met previously but had never done business with.
“I respected Gideon’s work ethic and had seen him have some success in real estate, so I asked for his help selling those homes,” says Hannan. “He was very helpful and we ended up staying in touch socially after those homes were sold.”
A couple of years later, Hannan was in Tel Aviv visiting his son Mataan when a childhood friend invited him to have coffee with Shmuel. The two were born in the same year and grew up in the same town, but their conversation over coffee was the first time they’d met. Little did they know how monumental that meeting would be!
Sitting in the cozy coffee house, Shmuel told Hannan that he’d purchased some apartments in Detroit and that he was looking for partners to continue investing in real estate around Michigan. He asked if Hannan knew of anyone, but at the time no one came to mind. As fate would have it, Hannan got a call from Gideon a few months later with an opportunity to invest in two apartment buildings. His conversation with Shmuel came flooding back, and the three unofficially started investing together.
Gideon, Shmuel, and Hannan initially didn’t have plans to start a company together, but when an opportunity to purchase a very large property in Indiana presented itself, the trio decided that if they were going to do this, they needed to do it right. They officially launched GSH, created a long-term plan to acquire and improve apartment communities in the Midwest, and formalized a business philosophy centered on transparency, trust, and social good.
“From Day One, we were very purposeful,” says Hannan. “We knew we wanted to buy apartment communities we could improve, we knew we wanted to provide quality housing for our community members, and we knew we wanted to provide good returns for investors.”
Three years later, the GSH partners still remain loyal to that purpose and have a growing portfolio of properties with thousands of community members. As the firm continues to grow, Gideon, Shmuel, and Hannan each bring their own experiences and perspectives to the table.
One of Hannan’s key areas of focus is keeping strong relationships at the heart of GSH, because it’s relationships that helped the firm get started in the first place. This focus includes direct relationships with investors, as well as deep relationships in banking and finance. It also includes creating a culture of service for both our community members, our investors, and our team.
This service philosophy is why GSH aims to provide comfortable, affordable housing, and to connect our community members with quality lifestyle opportunities. It’s why we view our investors’ contributions as what Hannan describes as “a sacred responsibility,” and why we approach every financial decision with transparency, honesty, and integrity. And it’s why Hannan and his fellow partners take great pride in mentoring our younger employees and doing everything they can to foster a sense of ownership and belonging.
“The idea of service is at the core of how we operate,” says Hannan. “I strongly believe in service. Helping others is a fundamental Jewish value, and it’s guided me both in my professional life, my family life, and my community.”
Outside of GSH, Hannan is proud to serve as the Chairman of the Michigan PBS affiliate and to play an active role in the local Jewish community.
“At this point in my life, I didn’t plan on being as busy as I am,” shares Hannan. “But, I’m energized by the work we do at GSH, by the passion of our investors and our team, and by the opportunity to continue building things that make a positive impact in people’s lives.”