“Readable and easy to understand.”
“Objectivity with collaboration.”
These are some of the thoughts in the early vision Robert Browning had while developing the initial systems and software that would evolve into BRG’s present day model.
The year was 1991; Microsoft Excel had come on the scene enabling designers to create spreadsheets and charts that were unheard of just a few short years before. The legislature had just mandated reserve studies for community associations in the state of California. Homeowners associations were clamoring for more choice and flexibility while working with their reserve analyst. This confluence of events gave birth to a new way of doing business in Northern California in the reserve study industry.
Heading up a small team at a management and construction company in the Sacramento area, “The Huntington Group”, (THG) Robert worked with Roger Bilstad, CPM and others to develop the prototype reserve study product that in spirit, is still in existence today. While working at THG, Robert gained valuable experience in construction management and reserve study preparation.
Providing reserve studies to other management companies was challenging, to say the least, and in 1999, after The Huntington Group’s earlier merger with Colliers International, Robert was encouraged to start his own firm and the Browning Reserve Group was born on April 1, 1999.
Having the best systems was not enough. Management and boards wanted more than a vendor who simply delivered a perfunctory report. They wanted someone to listen and to provide feedback on their challenges. Too many reserve study firms had contracts charging for telephone support, extra copies of the reserve study, attendance at meetings and other routine tasks. Some of these clauses may have been beneficial to the reserve study firm, but they were not incentivizing the decision makers to work through the process and deliver results to their membership that were thorough and in the community’s best interest.
One of the biggest compliments we receive at BRG, and one we are really proud of, may not be what you might expect. Of course we hear how our reports are understandable and that our field people are professional. But what really excites us is when a client says: “you listened to us.” That is not to say we will roll over or play dead on cue when asked. What it means is that even when we have to deliver bad news or work on a challenging situation with boards or managers, when we are done, everyone knows they have gotten a fair shake and that the end product contains what is best for the community.
OK, back to the history.
In 2000, Robert became the first reserve analyst in Sacramento to earn the prestigious Reserve Specialist designation from CAI. Robert holds designation number 46. (Thinking alphabet soup is important, Robert did earn his PCAM from CAI in 1996, but that is a different history.)
In 2002, BRG converted its software from Microsoft Excel, to a database system. This had been the biggest technical change for BRG ever and also proved to be its best decision as well. A relationship was created with a designer that has survived to this day, despite Robert’s penchant for lots of new ideas and minor tweaking until the very last minute on every change or upgrade.
The new database design has allowed BRG to do several things that have been a challenge to the industry for years. Simple things like, consecutive page numbering that ties to a table of contents, and embedded photographs. More complicated things include a one page 30 year funding plan that is easy to read and meets all requirements of state statutes.
Furthermore, BRG reserve studies meet the standards of the Community Association’s Institute (CAI) and the Association of Professional Reserve Analysts (APRA) as well as all states where BRG conducts business domestically and internationally.
Throughout the years, BRG has performed thousands of reserve studies for community associations, commercial condominiums, mix-use projects, special districts, park districts, Community services districts, churches, sororities, non-profits and others.
After the legislature mandated new reserve study requirements in CA in 2005, BRG created a product, entitled “Update Without Site-Visit Reserve Study”. This is what the CAI standards call, a reserve study whereby the analyst updates the study without going on site. This is for the two off years in CA where no site visit is required (four years in NV.) This level of reserve study is BRG’s most popular product and also one of its better deals. For just a few dollars, an association can update the reserve study and have completely updated and current disclosures to include with the yearly budget mailing to the members. The best thing about BRG studies in particular, is that the parts of the study that go to the members, are in a pull-out section at the very back of the study and they even have their own cover page and table of contents. The management companies name and logo (if applicable) are displayed proudly with the BRG brand and presented as a cohesive product to the members.
Our first employee Tony Dann, RS, also transitioned from Colliers International to the newly formed BRG in 1999, and in 2001, Tony relocated to Boise, ID to open the BRG Northwest office. Tony retired and closed the northwest office in 2016.
In 2003, Terry Ott, RS joined BRG and has the distinction of working on the same study, for the longest period of time, over anyone else at BRG. Terry counted every sheet of siding at a 590 unit planned development. (He says there are 30,303 sheets and we believe him!) It took Terry several weeks and this was a great indoctrination to BRG.
In 2005 Mike McDermott, RS, PRA, RSS #47, joined BRG as operations manager. As an engineer by training and education, Mike brought valuable systems experience to BRG. You can read more about all of our team members on the BRG Team page.
At the Browning Reserve Group, we are constantly striving to provide better service to our clients. In addition, we are working on implementing the most comprehensive systems to make our clients jobs easier. Do you have any ideas on how we can serve you better? Let us know. Many of our current features came from our clients. We try to listen to what they say and perform in a manner that exceeds their expectations.