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Tuesday, December 28, 2004



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GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Christine Camp Friedman, founder of commercial real estate consulting firm Avalon Development Co., left a secure job at Alexander & Baldwin Inc. to go into business for herself.




Looking,
then leaping

Christine Camp Friedman
graduated early from Kalani
and could not wait to work

The morning sun hasn't even thought about the horizon yet and Christine Camp Friedman is already hard at work.

Running the show

» Business: Avalon Development Co.
» Principal and managing director: Christine Camp Friedman
» Purpose: Company handles real estate development, brokerage and acquisition consulting.
» Notables: Camp Friedman is chairwoman of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and a board director of Central Pacific Financial Corp.

At just past 4 a.m., most people still are sleeping. But for Camp Friedman, the owner and founder of Avalon Development Co., there's too much work to be done.

"When someone thinks of work as fun, that's what you want to do," said the 38-year-old Camp Friedman. "I've never seen work as work, but work as something that I enjoy doing. Therefore, other people define me as a workaholic."

Whether it's work or fun, Camp Friedman's drive to succeed has brought her to levels that others only dream about. Her professional life has revolved around five-year goals and preparation for the next step.

In Camp Friedman's case, that involved leaving the financial and job security as vice president of development at Alexander & Baldwin Inc.'s property subsidiary to venture out on her own at age 32. Five years later, the real estate company that Camp Friedman started as a one-woman -- plus part-time secretary -- operation has turned into an eight-person company that specializes in development, real estate brokerage, and acquisition consulting. Avalon has been profitable since the first year.

Minding your business


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Camp Friedman said jumping from a secure position to start her own company was a calculated move that involved putting aside a two-year reserve fund, cutting expenses, and identifying potential clients and projects before making the leap.

"I also made sure I did proper research to know that the economy was turning around," she said. "Some people say you just wake up and say, 'I've had it and I'm going to go out and be my own boss.' It was not like that for me. I actually planned for this."

Camp Friedman said she calls her five-year goals "strategic planning" and that becoming a business owner was part of what she calls her "lofty goals." She left Kalani High School after her junior year because she had fulfilled all her graduation requirements and couldn't wait to start working.

While attending college, she began learning the real estate business during a five-year stint under the guidance of Rex Kuwasaki, an attorney/developer. She then left to work in residential, master planning and product design with Castle & Cooke over the next five years. At A&B, though, she acknowledges falling just short of her five-year goal.

"The reason I was there four years and nine months and not quite five years was that I saw the market turning, and I just knew if I waited any longer I would lose some opportunities," she said.

Camp Friedman said going out on her own in a familiar industry wasn't as risky as someone who, for example, leaves a successful job in one area to start a restaurant, she said.

"For me, it wasn't much of a transition because I was just transferring all the skill sets that I had but working for myself rather than working for somebody else," Camp Friedman said. "So the product was already defined, the industry was already defined and I had built up, at that time, over 15 years of expertise in the state. So it really wasn't a hardship in the sense of understanding the market or figuring things out. It was just a matter of raising capital."

As confident as Camp Friedman is in her abilities, she admits having apprehension when she opened her own business.

"How could you not when you're making such a big decision?" Camp Friedman asked. "There was a lot of apprehension because the pay (at A&B) was good and there was security. It was one of the largest, most profitable and most successful companies in the state and I was very successful within that company. At the same time, I was tracking the market and, after 10 years of flat-line growth, I was finally seeing breadth of growth and a breath of fresh air coming into this economy and I wanted to be a part of it. So I was very excited and I never looked back."

Besides the demands of running her own company, Camp Friedman is chairwoman of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and earlier this year was selected to the board of directors at Central Pacific Financial Corp.

Less than two years ago, she married Alan Friedman, a litigation partner for the Jones Day law firm in Los Angeles. She flies home to California most weekends -- leaving Hawaii on Friday night and returning Monday morning -- to be with her husband and lives in her Honolulu apartment during the week.

No wonder she keeps five cell phones and relies heavily on her secretary to keep her daily meeting schedule in order.

Camp Friedman is now gearing up for her new five-year goal, which encompasses raising money for Avalon's own projects.

"We have some portfolio properties that we're looking to acquire on our own account," she said. "We're currently raising capital. For the next five years, our goal is to raise equity and capital for our own funds."

Camp Friedman said there are lessons to be learned from running her own company.

"I guess that's what you call being experienced and being seasoned," she said. "I never regret not doing something because I've done everything I said I wanted to do and set goals for -- careerwise, anyway."

Camp Friedman said the lure of her job is so intoxicating that she can't wait to get up to start the new day.

"I love what I do," she said. "I get up at 4 in the morning or 5 in the morning every morning. I can't wait to come to the office. Or, I can't wait to log on to my computer. Or, drive around outside and say, 'Wow, that's the site I want to do something with.'"




art

Where people work Most people in Hawaii work for companies that have between 10 and 249 employees.






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