Getting to Know You: Caspar Chou, Vice President of Investments, Pacific Plaza Premier Group

Caspar Chou is the Vice President of Investments at Pacific Plaza Premier Group, one of the largest Asian owned real estate investment firms based in Los Angeles, California.

Caspar’s specialty is identifying areas of the country most likely to see growth and investing in real estate assets that maximizes return on investments. Caspar started investing in Texas eight years ago and has accumulated real estate portfolios in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. He is also involved in developments in the San Gabriel Valley, managing, and contributing to many real estate projects. Currently The Pacific Plaza Premier Group has 14 projects under entitlement or construction with retail market value over a billion dollars.

In the past, Caspar has worked in other industries, such as technology and communications, but since changing his career trajectory around the turn of the millennium, he has found real estate to be the best fit for him professionally. He credits both his innate aptitude to recognize great opportunities and his ability to focus on the task at hand for his success. In his spare time, Caspar Chou enjoys traveling and cooking. He also takes time to go skiing and snowboarding when he is able.

What do you currently do at your company?

My title is Vice-President of Investments. The firm is a family office with focus on real estate development in Southern California and Austin, Texas. Essentially, my role is to find great investment opportunities. Our investment philosophy is to add value. We do that in several different ways, one of which is to identify land in great locations, entitle, and then construct. Other times we will buy assets from bank foreclosures and turn them around. We deal in residential, commercial, and Industrial real estate.

What defines your way of doing business?

When it comes to business, I have always been able to identify good deals. It’s just the way my brain works. As far as the firm goes, we are ahead of the crowd, especially in the Austin market. We bought in just ahead of the mass migration by the tech companies to that area, which obviously gave us a leg up over other companies who didn’t see Austin’s potential. We like being trendsetters. The firm brings about forty years of combined experience in real estate development to the table, finding great opportunities and getting out ahead of our competitors in the industry.

What keys to being productive can you share?

First and foremost, you definitely must have a vision of what you want to achieve. That’s really the difficult part. Once you have a vision, then it’s just a question of breaking it down into smaller tasks to reach the overall goal. Focus is key. You have to be ready to do the research and the legwork. It doesn’t really matter what industry we’re talking about in that respect, it is always the people with the most drive and the mindset for success that will come out on top. Of course, big successes don’t usually happen overnight—you have to get out there, work hard, and meet people. You also have to show that you are experienced and dependable.

Tell us one long-term goal in your career.

I would love to see Pacific Plaza Premier Group grow into its full potential. We have had consistent returns for years. I want to keep that up; keep things going in that direction. It was an excellent growth opportunity for us to get into the Austin market when we did. While we continue to make investments there, we are looking into other areas of the country where we see the same kind of potential.

How do you measure success?

I think success should be measured in two ways: first, obviously, in monetary assets. Having a comfortable income is a very tangible way to measure success, and that sort of success is easy to achieve if you are truly willing to work for it. The second, more difficult to attain measure of success is having the freedom and time to do what you want to do when you want to do it. We all work to find a better, more comfortable life. Finding a balance between work and family is where real, genuine wealth lies.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

I have learned that finding the right people to work with is the key to accomplishing anything meaningful. You want to stick with people that have positive energy, and who are happy to see you succeed while they also succeed. Positive energy equals positive momentum. As you go through the business world, no matter what field you are in, you learn to read people well. It’s critical to use that skill to find and surround yourself with positive, talented people. Do that, and you will find your working life to be much less stressful and much more rewarding.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?

The real estate field can be very tricky. It is always changing. Besides surrounding yourself with the right people, I recommend finding a mentor in the specific real estate market you want to work within. Pay attention to how they work and how they identify what could be a good investment. There are many different ways to invest in each asset type, whether it be residential or commercial. Understanding the best ways to invest in properties in your specific territory is incredibly beneficial. Also, be willing to work hard and open to learning new strategies.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

I am a trained gourmet chef. I love to cook and have been doing a bit more of it, these days. I also love being active whenever I can. I enjoy yoga and snowboarding a lot. Exercise is a great way to keep your body fit, stay focused, and ensure you have more energy overall. It’s also a great way to de-stress.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I think they would say that I am enthusiastic and authentic. I am thorough, and at times, I can also be intense. When I see an opportunity, I will make that my primary focus until we have completed the deal. I love the thrill of closing deals, knowing that it will bring us truly great returns. I want to bring success, not just to the company, but to our clients, as well. My success is their success. My colleagues know they can depend on me to work hard and get the job done.

How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?

When I am focused on work, I go at it with full intensity. I put everything I’ve got into concluding the deal. Once that is finished, then I take time to relax. I am able to travel many times throughout the year to beautiful, exotic locations because I put in the hard work while I am at home.

What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?

My smartphone, honestly. It has everything I need right in my pocket, like my calendar and contact list. I can even make travel plans from my smartphone. It is an indispensable tool.