Ronnie Gul, Steve Fried and Raphael Fishbach
West Coast originations co-heads; East Coast originations head at Mesa West Capital
Since its founding in 2004, Mesa West Capital has originated more than 400 loans and has exceeded $26 billion in loan commitments. The lean, mean eight-person origination team puts tremendous responsibility on its trio of East Coast and West Coast origination heads, Raphael Fishbach, Steve Fried and Ronnie Gul, who work out of the firm’s New York and Los Angeles offices.
And the trio delivered in 2022 with $2.1 billion worth of originations across 19 loans.
The firm used both old and new sponsors and preferred two core asset classes: multifamily and industrial, with a preference for Texas, Florida and other Sun Belt states.
“As we’ve evolved as a company, we’ve been evolving into those markets over time, and, as those markets have matured and become more institutionally accepted, we have wanted to lend in places where we think there’s institutional ownership,” Fishbach explained.
“And it’s not just underwriting them from a desktop,” he added. “It’s getting boots on the ground, getting people down there, and leveraging relationships to make strong credit decisions.”
As a pullback in lending took hold of the banking system through 2022’s second half, alternative lenders like Mesa West stepped in to fill the void once credit conditions tightened. The firm has a portfolio in excess of $10 billion in loans, spread across various funds and single-managed accounts they steer for institutional investors.
“Our strategy hasn’t changed this whole time: We are providing moderate leverage to strong sponsors, institutional markets, and top real estate,” Fishbach said. “We are truly acting as a bank alternative.”
The firm benefited from the repeat sponsors who came to them again in 2022. Many of the firm’s familiar borrowers are large institutional sponsors that are looking for high-quality assets in growth markets. “Relationships matter more than ever,” explained Fried. “And it’s even more important today, when you have volatility in the market, that that’s when security in execution becomes paramount.”
The trio have been working together for at least 15 years. Their business plans and tactics have survived numerous markets and weathered the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
“We were one of the few groups that were formed and active and thrived through the GFC,” Gul said. “And that’s what’s built a brand name that has performed through numerous cycles. It’s built tremendous loyalty.” —B.P.