By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Brenton Hayden, a 2003 Holy Trinity High School graduate, was named young entrepreneur of the year in 2010 by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal for being founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Renters Warehouse, a business he started in 2007.
Renters Warehouse is a property management company that has been recognized by the media, at both the state and national level, for achieving remarkable success in a short amount of time.
The company manages more than 2,000 homes, according to Hayden. Its territory covers an area as far west as Stewart and Hutchinson, as far east as western Wisconsin, and from St. Cloud to Rochester.
Outside of Minnesota, the company has sold 10 franchises in states across the US.
The company’s franchising is a separate business, according to Hayden. There is a Renters Warehouse Minnesota and another office called Renters Warehouse USA.
In order to expand the business through franchising, Hayden sold 10 percent of his business in 2008 to Ryan Marvin (of Marvin Windows), a best friend and confidant. It was a move he doesn’t regret.
Hayden made the decision at a time when he needed additional financial resources to hire lawyers to create the franchise company, and hire more staff.
“But now, we have no debt as a company, and have franchise locations nationwide, and hopefully, there will be more to come,” Hayden said.
The company placed a cap of 10 on franchises until it is assured each franchise is managing on its own.
“We are a very young franchise and we need to understand where our obligations are and what is needed from us, so we are taking it slow,” Hayden said.
In 2004, Hayden chose a career in real estate because someone told him it was a good way to make money.
He worked for Coldwell Banker in Edina, helping real estate investors buy their first investment property.
The success of his company, Hayden attributes to getting into real estate when he did.
“Somehow, I timed this just right, which I can’t take credit for doing,” Hayden said. “But I got into this when there was the strongest real estate sales market there had ever been in 50 years, which went to one of the worst sales markets there had ever been in 50 years. I caught the gap perfectly.”
When the real estate market collapsed, Hayden went from real estate agent to property manager.
“So many investors wanted to buy real estate, and that was my niche. I would help them buy property, but after they bought the real estate, they needed help in leasing and managing it,” Hayden said.
The first time he offered to find a tenant for an investor, he did it for free. He listed the rental property on the Internet and had it rented in a day.
“It was easy,” Hayden said.
When the investor asked him for his help the second time, Hayden charged him a month’s rent.
“Again, I rented it in a day and I thought, ‘Wow, this is a lot easier than selling real estate,’” Hayden said.
“Next thing I knew, I was doing it for 50 people, and now it’s several thousand people,” Hayden said.
In addition to finding tenants for investors, there is also a rental management side to the business, which Hayden describes as a “landlord for hire.”
“We will rent it and manage it for a flat fee per month so that the investor doesn’t have to collect the rent or take care of any maintenance that needs to be done, he explained.
By creating his unique business, Hayden has also saved hundreds of people from foreclosure, by helping them lease as an alternative to losing their property because they aren’t able to make payments or to sell their investment.
“The bulk of our business, about 85 percent, is single-family homes, town homes, and condos. About 70 percent of the people who hire us for tenant replacement will also hire us to be the manager,” Hayden said.
The name of his company in 2004 was Hayden Company Property Management. Hayden also had another website called Renters Warehouse, which was not meant to be a property management company, but a free listing for property owners and investors to post their properties.
The two websites caused some confusion, so in 2007 the company scrapped the idea of posting properties on the web site and made Renters Warehouse the official property management company website.
“We started marketing and advertising, and we hired Glenn Beck to be our official spokesperson, and business was just on fire,” Hayden said.
Today, the company is worth millions of dollars.
“We are very accountable, and a well-sought-after company,” Hayden said.
Proof of the company’s success is in numerous awards and accolades Hayden and his company have received during the last several years. Hayden listed a few of his favorites:
• Being named one of the top five emerging entrepreneurs of the year in 2010 by Entrepreneur Magazine;
• Having Renters Warehouse named the number-one fastest-growing real estate company in Minnesota and number three in the US, by Inc. Magazine in 2010;
• And the award that Hayden is most proud of receiving is being named the best small business to work for in Minnesota two years in a row, 2010 and 2011, by Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal.
Because of the company’s media recognition, Hayden has traveled the country, speaking at different events on starting a business, and growing a business during a recession.
He is also a radio host and producer of his own radio program on KFAN - 100.3 FM, Real Estate Coaches on Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m.
His favorite part of his job is in marketing and advertising.
“I love working with our spokespersons and advertisers to develop new messages, and tracking advertisements,” Hayden said. “I think, if I had to do it over again, I would be in some kind of advertising. I really like it. The creativity, the messaging, tracking the results, and tweaking things to see how it impacts the message.”
Hayden and his wife, Ashley, make their home in Maple Plain with their two Pomeranian pups, Grizzly Bear (brown) and Polar Bear (white).
Hayden is a 2003 Holy Trinity graduate
Hayden attended Holy Trinity High School in Winsted his sophomore through his senior year, graduating in 2003.
“I enjoyed my time so much at Holy Trinity,” Hayden said. “It really changed my demeanor.”
He especially misses high school sports.
“I was so passionate about that. I played them all wrestling, basketball, baseball.”
“I remember I used to write the baseball updates from Holy Trinity and send them to Chris Schultz [Herald Journal Advertising Manager] and he would put them in the paper. I still have a bunch of articles that I kept.”
Hayden continues to enjoys sports, and plays in a Wayzata softball league.