June 16, 2022

Virginia Beach-based Armada Hoffler looks toward next generation for path forward

By Sandra J. Pennecke at The Virginian-Pilot

VIRGINIA BEACH — Shawn Tibbetts wasn’t even born when Armada Hoffler Properties was founded, but now he’s an integral part of where the company is headed.

It’s been almost three years since Tibbetts became chief operating officer responsible for aligning the day-to-day operations of the company’s various business lines and support groups with the corporate goals set by CEO Louis Haddad and the board of directors.

“We really feel that we’ve put in place with Shawn a path forward,” said Daniel Hoffler, founder and executive chairman of the board of directors.

Started in Chesapeake in 1979, Hoffler said it all began with “big dreams, the help of family and friends, and luck.” More than four decades later, Armada Hoffler has grown into a commercial real estate development, construction and asset management firm stretching from Maryland to Georgia with 165 employees.

In 2003, the company moved its headquarters to Virginia Beach after it embarked three years earlier on the public-private partnership that has become the city’s burgeoning central business district in Town Center.

Hoffler shares a lot of commonalities with Tibbetts, including their hometown of Portsmouth and fathers who worked at the shipyard. Hoffler is quick to boast about his younger counterpart.

“I’ve seen my day in the sun,” Hoffler said.

Anxious to share where the company is going, Hoffler said it is the younger talents at Armada Hoffler who are leading the way.

“Shawn has done a remarkable job of entering into the company, assimilating himself with our new people and some of the directions that we’re taking now based on where society is heading, not just where the business community is going,” Hoffler said.

Tibbetts, the former president and chief operating officer of the Port of Virginia’s private subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, was at a crossroads when he was introduced to Hoffler and Haddad in 2019. Ready to switch industries, Tibbetts said he saw a lot of similarities between the businesses — one as a steward of a large portfolio of real estate and the other as a steward of port real estate.

Well-versed in managing large complex teams and infrastructure, Tibbetts said at the end of the day, it’s all about the people — the relationships, employees, and partnerships — that are first and foremost to maintaining a well-run business.

“This is a strong company with strong values,” Tibbetts said. “And if you have strong fundamentals, you can weather the storm and we have.”

Despite coming on board right before the pandemic began, Tibbetts saw the challenging days as a way to look at the company under pressure and evaluate its pressure points.

“From a leadership perspective, it’s given us an opportunity to make some fine-tuning adjustments and come out of the pandemic a stronger organization and more resilient company,” he said.

Faced with disruptions from the economic backdrop that was brought on by the pandemic, Tibbetts said they continued to put employees, tenants and partners first. And Armada Hoffler came out on the other side with the largest pipeline they have ever seen from a development standpoint, he said.

“My role is to ensure that this success and this value creation continues on an operating basis,” Tibbetts said. “I like to characterize myself as an agile player, kind of a captain that is playing the game on the field, not sitting on the sideline coaching.”

Busy with developments along the Southeast corridor, Armada Hoffler maintains its relevance in Hampton Roads and has several major projects on the horizon, Tibbetts said.

With plans to continue to grow the company, Tibbetts stressed the importance of maintaining the quality and values the company was founded on. That’s vital to Hoffler, who said it’s important to him that team members believe in the vision and assure his legacy is one he and his family can be proud of.

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