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Jason Hughes

Jason Hughes has led Hughes Marino since 2011. Headquartered in San Diego, the firm celebrates its 11th anniversary on Feb. 11, 2022 and Hughes, a University of San Diego MBA graduate, is looking back on 11 key components that have elevated his prestigious firm’s empire.

From tenant and buyer representation to lease restructuring, sale-leaseback transactions, multimarket representation, and program, project, and construction management, Jason Hughes knew he was embarking on something special from day one.

“When passion and hard work intersect, you’ll find excellence,” Jason Hughes says. “And I think that defines what we’re all about. In this industry, people are what matter most. Whether a client is buying a building or doing a long-term lease, you need your own representation and you need somebody to protect your interests. Building a successful company takes total commitment, a lot of creativity, and a great team of people.”

What inspires Jason Hughes most is constantly asking what else his company can do for clients.

What inspires Jason Hughes most is constantly asking what else his company can do for clients. “I believe we have to earn our success every day,” Jason Hughes says. “That’s what we have done for 11 years. I’m so impressed with all that we have accomplished and I’m excited to see where we’re headed. As one of my heroes, Howard Schultz, has said, ‘Onward!’”

1. It all started with just 12 people, and now there are more than 120 team members. “We are extremely proud of our team,” Jason Hughes says. “We have thoughtfully expanded over the years, and we’re excited about what we’ve done but even more enthusiastic about the future.”

2. Success is never taken for granted. “Our company has won countless awards but at a core level, what sets us apart is our 100% focus on tenants,” Jason Hughes explains. “There’s a huge, inherent conflict of interest when you’re trying to represent both landlords and tenants. It always puts the tenant in a disadvantaged situation. It is shocking how many companies get taken advantage of without even knowing it. At Hughes Marino, we are a true tenant representation company. You need an independent, conflict-free fiduciary alliance with your broker and that’s what we provide. Everyone at my firm is a licensed broker, or in the process of becoming one. Most of our competitors who call themselves ‘brokers’ are licensed salespeople. The fact is, a salesperson isn’t accountable. It’s the broker who’s accountable.”

3. Jason Hughes and his team don’t let anything hinder their progress — not even a pandemic. “We��re one of the few businesses that expanded during the pandemic,” he says. “I went into coaching mode. Many companies closed or went into panic mode and instead, we gathered our team and incorporated weekly town hall meetings to gather strategies on how to best serve our clients during this turbulent time. We increased our commitment to technology and also opened a Denver office.”

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4. The company has an award-winning culture. “Our company culture and the happiness of our team has always been a top priority,” Jason Hughes says. “Our culture was featured in world-renowned author and business coach Joe Calloway’s book The Leadership Mindset as a prime example of how culture drives success.”

5. They’re all about sustainable workspaces. “We made our San Diego headquarters more sustainable with LED lighting and salvaged brick,” Hughes says. “Our planning and design team also helps clients create their dream workspaces. There’s definitely been a demand for more eco-friendly offices.”

6. The tenant representation giant is revolutionizing San Diego’s life sciences boom. “We have really done a deep dive into the life sciences sector, especially in San Diego,” he adds. “San Diego is the third-largest life science market in the nation and there’s only going to be more demand for lab space in this area. It’s truly an innovative sector and it will continue to bring cutting-edge businesses to San Diego.”

7. The company’s co-owners, Jason and Shay Hughes, met the summer before they began college. After both graduating from Pepperdine University, Hughes was eager to begin his commercial real estate career (he got his realtor’s license by age 18). Then he and Shay got married, started a family and Jason earned his MBA in real estate finance at the University of San Diego while working full-time as a commercial real estate broker.

8. Hughes Marino has eight offices throughout the United States. With its headquarters in San Diego and offices in San Francisco, Orange County, Los Angeles, East Bay, Seattle, Denver, and a satellite office in New York, there’s been a lot of buzz surrounding its unique office styles. At most of the locations, there is original artwork and plenty of carefully curated touches such as cozy couches, high-definition televisions, and perks such as billiard tables and putting greens. Shay’s played a major role in the decorating and design of each office space. “We want everyone to love where they work and who they work with,” Shay says. “We invested in our San Diego headquarters to share with our team members, their extended families, and the greater community as a whole.” Both Shay and Jason Hughes admit they love going to work every day and remain just as passionate about it as the day they started.

9. Fortune recognized Hughes Marino as the top workplace in the nation. “We earned that accolade in 2018,” Hughes adds. “Our team members are really like an extended family and our offices are a home away from home. We add special touches to our offices including original artwork, gourmet kitchens, plush break areas, and game rooms to unwind. We’re all about working hard but we like to play hard, too. We also offer ballgame outings and plenty of in-office treats.”

10. Jason Hughes has invited a variety of notable speakers to ignite employees at his San Diego offices. Spanx founder Sara Blakely’s husband, Jesse Itzler, has been a repeat speaker at several retreats. Former NBA player Bill Walton and author Mike Robbins have spoken at motivational retreats. “We enjoy spreading positivity throughout our offices and often have guests come to speak in San Diego,” he mentions. “It’s inspiring and always sparks new ideas and conversations. Seeing our team grow is incredible.”

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11. The brand established a set of core values that remains the the foundation of the company. “When we launched this company, we started with an amazing group of people,” the San Diego–based CEO says. We knew we loved working together but defining our company’s 10 core values really set us apart from other companies.”

Britta Hedlund