By Liz Wolf
Veteran Twin Cities real estate developer Kelly Doran, who founded Bloomington-based Doran Cos. in 2007, has stepped down as chief executive officer and majority owner.
Doran, 61, has sold a majority interest in the company to two of its long-time executives. Chief Operating Officer Anne Behrendt acquired a 51 percent stake and is now serving as president and CEO while Chief Financial Officer Ryan Johnson acquired a 24.5 percent stake
Behrendt, 40, joined Doran Cos. as general counsel in 2011 and became COO in 2015. Johnson, 37, joined the firm in 2008, serving as CFO since 2015.
Doran has no plans to retire. He’s retaining a 24.5 percent stake in the firm and his real estate holdings and also will continue to develop exclusively with the company.
However, Doran says he began thinking about succession planning after dealing with a bout of early-stage lung cancer in 2017.
“This really started when I had a health scare a few years ago, and we started talking about what’s the future of the organization and what’s that going to look like,” Doran tells MREJ.
“Anne and Ryan have been my partners during our record growth and we simply wouldn’t be where we are without their leadership and involvement in the organization,” Doran said in a statement. “Partnering with them is a no-brainer and, in many ways, this is simply formalizing what the reality has been for some time.”
The company, which opened a Denver office three years ago, does more than $500 million a year in development and construction volume across its businesses in Minnesota and Colorado. Doran has grown from 20 employees to more than 200 employees. The company has built approximately 6,000 residential units – either completed or under construction — with another roughly 2,000 units in various stages of planning.
Doran operates development, architecture, construction and property management businesses.
Doran says Behrendt and Johnson have been “hugely instrumental” in helping the company grow to what it is today.
“There just really weren’t two better people to take it forward than Anne and Ryan,” Doran says. “So as we talked this through and talked about different alternatives and ways of doing it, we ultimately came to the conclusion that they should be leading the organization going forward.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Doran adds. “I’m still going to be hanging around as long as they’ll let me. I want to do more developing and continue to look at development opportunities, predominantly in the multifamily area.
“I want to focus my attention on that part of the business that I love so much. I love the design side. I love the development side, and I want to really spend more time on that,” he continues. “And I’ll work not only with Anne and Ryan but the whole team, including my sons.”
Doran’s two sons, Evan and Kramer Doran, joined the company in the past year.
“So it’s just freeing up the ability to really contribute to the organization in a different way, and leaving the organization and the day-to-day affairs in Anne’s and Ryan’s very capable hands,” he notes.
Behrendt says she’s proud of the company and believes it’s well-positioned to continue to grow.
“We will continue to focus on the areas of development that we’ve focused on for the past few years, so primarily multifamily, looking at all of our development opportunities as long-term hold properties,” she says.
Behrendt also notes that the company will likely expand beyond the Twin Cities and Denver.
“We’re looking at other markets right now and will continue to explore that,” she says. “Our expectation is we will have one project under control in a market other than Minnesota or Colorado by the end of this year.”
Another key piece of this transition, Behrendt adds, is the company will become certified as a woman-owned business.
“We view that as an additional tool in our toolbox that will, I think, position us well for continued growth, particularly on the construction and architecture sides of our business,” she notes.