This is not a drill!

It was a quiet, uneventful Tuesday afternoon in Boise when Mindy Gronbeck’s phone rang.
A fire alarm was going off at the building that housed the corporate headquarters of
Hawkins Companies, where Gronbeck served as the director of property management.


Photo credit: Idaho News

Not too unusual, Gronbeck thought. The three story, 75,000-square-foot building was home to many tenants, including several restaurants and a nightclub. Fire alarms would occasionally go off for no apparent reason, but Gronbeck always followed up on each one – better safe than sorry, she thought.


Unfortunately, this time it wasn’t a false alarm. Knitting Factory, a popular concert venue on the first floor of the building, was on fire.


Gronbeck jumped in her car and raced to her office, tailing the 12 fire trucks that were also en route. The flames were still burning when she arrived.


In her 20 years in commercial real estate, Gronbeck felt thankful she’d never experienced a disaster, though she and her colleagues had spent plenty of time on emergency preparedness. They monitored their safety equipment. They did maintenance work. And then they unexpectedly discovered a new tool that could help be even more prepared for a crisis.

Something New

In her 20 years in commercial real estate, Gronbeck felt thankful she’d never experienced a disaster, though she and her colleagues had spent plenty of time on emergency preparedness. They monitored their safety equipment. They did maintenance work. And then they unexpectedly discovered a new tool that could help be even more prepared for a crisis.


In 2014, Hawkins Companies purchased a few shopping centers, one of which was owned by Kimco, which is among the largest REITs in North America. With the purchase, Hawkins Companies also received the site plans for their new shopping center.


Gronbeck didn’t expect much. She was used to getting basic, general site plans that didn’t offer many details about the property. Instead, she was blown away by what she saw.


“I said, ‘what is this?’” she said.

“These plans are beautiful!”


The plans included every detail of the shopping center, from HVAC units to electrical meters to parking lot lights. She’d never seen such a thorough site plan, and she wanted to know more. Through her contacts at Kimco, Gronbeck learned the plans had been created by commercial real estate tech company ID Plans. She met with the ID Plans team at ICSC RECon and learned about the company’s flagship software, Remote Property Manager. She could see the benefits immediately.

"We had plans, but we didn’t have anything like ID Plans,” she said. “I knew that Remote Property Manager would help us in so many ways, and I knew I wanted to incorporate it.”

Hawkins Companies did their first “test center” in 2014, and the results were so positive they decided to have detailed site plans created for the rest of 18 shopping centers in their portfolio the following year.


That decision has paid off in many ways at many properties over the past three years, but it wasn’t until the fire broke out at her office that Gronbeck saw the full potential of ID Plans and Remote Property Manager.


“We were able to pull up our plans and quickly identify where the shutoffs were for the gas, water, and power, and we could show the firefighters exactly where they were,” she said.


“I had a fireman tell me that we were the most prepared he’d ever seen a property owner be in this situation. To me, that solidified the investment.”

Thanks to the quick actions of the firefighters, the damage was largely contained to the music venue and no one was injured in the blaze.


“It could have been so much worse,” Gronbeck said.


But the value of Remote Property Manager didn’t end once the flames were extinguished. Gronbeck and her team were able to use data from RPM to help vendors, contractors, and architects in their repairs.


“We could give them information ahead of time so they could bid the work, and then they had that information to refer to when they showed up to actually do the job,” she said.


Looking back on what happened on that seemingly peaceful Tuesday has confirmed to Gronbeck that she and her team are on the right track when it comes to emergency planning, and she credits ID Plans and Remote Property Manager for helping them ensure the safety of the properties in their portfolio.


“You try to prepare as much as possible, but you never know how prepared you are until it actually happens,” she said. “I was very pleased with how prepared we were.”

“You try to prepare as much as possible, but you never know how prepared you are until it actually happens,” she said. “I was very pleased with how prepared we were.”

In an emergency, every second counts. What safety measures do you have in place? Contact ID Plans for a demo and see how our powerful software can help you be prepared in any situation.

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