Lessons from Grandpa

PROVO, Utah – Aug 16, 2017 – Timing is everything.

That’s just one of the lessons accounting alum Greg Drennan learned from his grandfather John Rowley, a former BYU heating plant engineer. In addition to fueling Drennan’s love for BYU, Rowley taught his grandson many lessons that have since followed Drennan throughout his career in commercial real estate.

“I probably learned as much from him as I did from any one professor,” Drennan says.

Drennan, a California native, originally wanted to be an attorney. But after talking with a friend during his LDS Church mission in Ecuador, Drennan was convinced that accounting could be a smart place to start a career—even with his long-held goal of entering the real estate business.

Drennan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1985, then joined on with KPMG. He spent two and a half years in public accounting, two and a half years as an assistant controller with a privately held commercial real estate trust, and seven years at Lexington Homes before deciding to “cut the salary cord.”

“I was ready to be on the playing field instead of keeping score,” Drennan says. “That’s when I became an entrepreneur.”

Drennan created Crescendo Properties in 2002 with two partners, one of whom was BYU alumnus Tim Wright, and they began acquiring and managing a portfolio of self-storage properties. One of their first hires—BYU MBA grad Kenny Pratt—later became a partner at Crescendo.

Drennan’s entrepreneurial spirit served him well. In the business of acquisitions with Crescendo Properties, he discovered LifeStorage, a self-storage company later acquired by an investor group. Drennan became a board member and acquisition advisor at LifeStorage, which grew to eighty-four properties—including a twelve-property portfolio contributed by Crescendo—before it was sold to Sovran in July 2016 for $1.3 billion, a noteworthy sale that attracted the attention of the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.

“That was a key thing to happen, acquiring the portfolio at LifeStorage,” Drennan says. “I was pretty happy to be involved in that.” Another key, Drennan says, was recruiting Marriott School alum Keith Gee to fill the critical CFO role at LifeStorage.

Drennan and his partners are now involved in what they call “Crescendo 3.0,” seeking out off-market storage deals and following grandfather Rowley’s maxim about timing being everything.

“We’re looking at reinvesting but only on opportunistic buys,” Drennan says. “You have to time it right when you’re buying and when you’re selling.”

Drennan has also joined with other entrepreneurial ventures, such as Quick Quack Car Wash, an express car wash company rapidly expanding in the western states. This venture emerged when fellow Marriott School grads Jason Johnson and Travis Kimball teamed with Crescendo, all believing that the model would emerge as a desirable investment opportunity.

In business, Drennan says, it’s all about who you know—another lesson from Grandpa.

“It doesn’t matter how good of an opportunity you have if the people you’re doing business with are not good people,” Drennan says. “I try to associate with people who share the same values I do. There’s just a heightened comfort level when I know I’m dealing with people who have the same values. My partners share these values and have been a blessing in my life.”

Drennan has four children—a daughter and three sons—with his wife, Monica. When not in the office, he can be found atop ski slopes, on the putting green, at a live concert, or involved in activities for the BYU Alumni Board as a chapter director for the West Coast region.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Kasee Bailey