Andy Deckas

President of commercial properties and executive vice president, CSM Corp.

Andy Deckas, 50, has joined Minneapolis-based CSM Corp. as president of commercial properties and executive vice president of the overall company. He will help develop and execute a growth strategy for the firm's commercial division and oversee day-to-day operations.

Deckas most recently served as president of Minnetonka-based Founders Properties, overseeing the acquisition and management of more than $3 billion in assets. Before that, he was president of Opus Properties. Deckas got his start in the business at Heitman, one of the nation's biggest real estate advisors.

CSM also recently hired Lori Larson as senior managing director of capital markets, and Michael Coolidge as senior vice president of real estate and lodging.

Q: What will your primary responsibilities be?

A: The commercial portfolio is primarily office and industrial and some retail. So it's overseeing that portfolio of approximately 10 million square feet and working with the existing property base, tenant base, broker base and then complementing and trying to add resources and strengths to an already good team here.

Q: Is CSM positioning itself for growth?

A: Absolutely. We need to get our arms around and maximize the value of the existing portfolio, but clearly the intent and mission here is to start growing again — and growing through acquisitions, development and other things to add value to the overall platform.

Q: So CSM wants to capitalize on the improving real estate market?

A: Yes. Coming out of the recession everyone in this business had issues to deal with. … The good news here is there are very good bones to the existing portfolio — it's high quality. There's a tremendous amount of resources within the company. It's a great platform. It didn't have a lot of the debt problems and financial problems that other companies had, so it's positioned well.

Q: Will you work closely with Gary Holmes, CSM's founder/president/CEO?

A: Yes. He has built this company from scratch over many decades. He can only do so much, so in addition to growing the platform, I will relieve him of the myriad of daily decision-making and involvement. … It'll allow him the time to get away from the daily management decisions that come at him from so many different angles and allow him to be the chairman and rainmaker.

Q: Why make the move to CSM?

A: It certainly was nothing negative about Opus or Founders; this was just an opportunity. You've got a privately held company. You've got the founder and head of the firm who's at an age where he's looking at not only continuing to grow the business that he created and built, but also be able to transition leadership to build for the future.

Liz Wolf is a freelance writer in Eagan. She can be reached at