Welcome to a new monthly feature in which we go behind “Behind the Scenes” to learn more about a member of the Capstan team. If you’d like to see someone specific featured, let us know!
Isaac Downing is a big personality. His booming voice, bright smile, and gregarious nature make him the center of every party – or trade show. Isaac’s done it all in this industry, and he has the stories to prove it. In this month’s Behind the Scenes, we chat about his career evolution, lessons learned in the Marine Corps, and the surprising reasons he’ll only shop at Costco.
Most business development professionals don’t have decades of experience in construction, finance, engineering, and public accounting. Who are you, Isaac Downing?
[Laughs] That’s a good question. I do have a very broad background in real estate and related areas, and that provides a lot of insight that helps me serve my clients better. I’ve been a fixed asset manager, a cost accountant, an engineer, and of course a Marine. I’ve worked in the public and private sectors, met tons of great people… I probably know half of Orange County!
For most people that would be a figure of speech, but you probably do know half of Orange County.
You know me, I’m a talker. I like to connect with people.
That’s what makes you so great at what you do. But seriously, how did you get here, Isaac?
Well, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after high school, and there is a strong military tradition on my father’s side of the family. I decided to join the Marines, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. That’s how I got the real estate bug in the first place – I attended the Marine Corps School of Engineering in North Carolina.
You know the joke – Marines are really good at two things – building and destroying. I was on the building end, and we built bunkers, sleeping quarters, Quonset huts. I was supervising construction in Japan and Korea, and after 9/11 in Egypt.
Wow! Did you ever think of being a career military man?
No, not really. I knew that I wanted to get home and settle down, but I’ll tell you what – the lessons of discipline and perseverance really stay with you. Once a Marine, always a Marine. I’d still get my hair cut every week if I could!
Marines get their hair cut every week?
Yep, it’s mandatory. But now I’ll go a good 3 weeks without a haircut.
Really cutting loose there. So what was next for you?
Well, I worked my way through college. I worked for an aerospace company dealing with their fixed assets, and then I got hired as a Fixed Asset Manager for a huge publicly traded company – we built over 700 stores while I was there. Have you heard of Wet Seal?
Have I heard of Wet Seal? Have I HEARD of Wet Seal?
[Laughs] I guess you have. Well, I was segregating costs over there, tracking their capital expenditures, and then I moved on to a hotel chain, overseeing billions of dollars of capital improvements. That’s where I started working with the TPRs in a hands-on way, deciding what could be expensed and what had to be capitalized, taking advantage of the Safe Harbors.
Now we’re getting into cost segregation territory, I think I see where we’re going…
Yep. I really liked it and transitioned to work for a large CPA firm, performing cost seg studies full time. A funny thing happened, though… I got to talking with clients about other projects while I was out in the field, just pointing out opportunities. Essentially, I started selling studies while actively performing studies.
You were simultaneously segging and selling?
[Chuckles] Segging and selling, that’s exactly it. I’m guess I’m a born salesman. I’ll tell you though, I only sell what I feel good about. That’s how I ended up at Capstan by the way.
What do you mean?
Well, long story short, I did more selling and more segging, and eventually I was faced with job offers from four different firms. As a Marine, I want everything to be above board, and that’s how it is at Capstan. I felt good about the Capstan team and the Capstan process – everything is transparent, there’s real integrity here. Capstan’s services are something I’m very proud to sell.
We’re so glad you chose us! Can I ask you a few off-topic questions about your other choices? Do you really choose to get up at 4:30am to work out every day?
Absolutely! I have to get my workouts in, I’m a big gym rat. I also really love eating, so if I want to do the eating, I have to put in the gym time.
You’re a huge movie buff. If you had to choose one movie as your all-time favorite?
The Matrix. It was so visionary for its time. I must have seen it in the theatre 10 times when I was stationed in Korea.
Finally, why do you choose to only shop at Costco?
[Incredulous] Are you kidding? The savings! The deals are amazing! And the samples – do you know how many samples they have? And you can get everything there – now that I’m old, I even buy my clothes at Costco. [Firmly] I’m a one-stop shopper, and that stop is Costco.
Isaac can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his local Costco.