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VALLEY AND VENTURA COUNTY

Camarillo Developer Shifts to Investment as Company Matures

June 16, 1998|LEO SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

David Rumfelt's chief priority as the new president of TOLD Corp. is pretty straightforward--continue changing the direction of the business.

Since the Camarillo-based company was founded in 1973, it has been a leading developer of commercial properties in Ventura County and in portions of the Midwest. But more recently, company officials decided that what was a sound business strategy for a quarter of a century, may not be appropriate for the next one.

"TOLD has developed business parks--properties that have required long-term commitments," said Rumfelt, a 10-year executive of the firm who most recently served as TOLD's executive vice president and chief financial officer.

"Now we are becoming more of an investment company rather than a developer," he said. "We're looking at purchasing existing properties that may need some conversion or refinement."

TOLD currently owns or is a partner in 26 properties, mostly located in Ventura County with a few in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Included among the sites is about 600,000 square feet of commercial space split between Camarillo and Newbury Park and other small properties in Oxnard. Heading the local list are two properties in Camarillo--a 67,000-square-foot complex on Avenida Acaso and a 61,000-square-foot site on Flynn Road.

TOLD officials have spent the last two years selling off developments in Texas and Washington state as well as searching for investment property.

Like TOLD's own developments, Rumfelt said, the new purchases will be large, multiple-tenant properties.

"Generally, our philosophy has been to buy a large tract of land, with 30 to 50 sites, and there just aren't large pieces of vacant land to turn a profit on at this point in time," he said. "We feel that the risk associated with purchasing existing property is better than developing speculative, new property."

The shift in philosophy has been driven more by the age of the company than the state of Ventura County's commercial real estate market, Rumfelt said.

"Initially the objective of the company was to become a large Ventura County developer, which we did," he said. "Now we've become a mature company. The owners are getting older and they are less risk-prone. To turn around a large tract takes 10 or 15 years, and that's a long time to be sitting and investing in a property."

TOLD officials have not made their first building purchase, though they have made some attempts.

"Some of the property we tried to buy are buildings we built ourselves in Camarillo," Rumfelt said. "Unfortunately we got outbid. We felt that the market was getting too pricey for what we wanted to invest. If we have to sit and wait for four or five years, we'll do that."

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