Finance & Accounting: Mark Yale

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Mark Yale

Executive Vice President, CFO and Treasurer, Glimcher Realty Trust

Mark Yale comes by his acumen for numbers honestly. “My dad started in accounting, my brother was an accountant, and it was just something I was always comfortable with,” he says.

Born in Columbus and raised in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area, Yale graduated from the University of Richmond with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. After a decade at Coopers & Lybrand (the forerunner to PricewaterhouseCoopers), Yale, a CPA, joined self-storage company Storage USA.

In 2004, Yale was hired at Glimcher Realty Trust as executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, the same position he holds today. He’s responsible for the public company’s financial reporting and lease accounting, its joint venture transations and relationships with lending institutions. Coming to Columbus “was a great move. It’s a really nice place to raise a family,” says Yale, 46. In addition to his work, Yale serves on the executive committee of the leukemia-fighting nonprofit Light the Night and on the board of Wexner Heritage Village, which cared for his ailing mother in 2010.

Yale’s tenure at Glimcher, a real estate investment trust that focuses on malls, hasn’t been easy. The years 2008 and 2009 saw it in “survival mode,” he says. The credit markets froze and Glimcher, despite its assets, had debts, too. Relationships with banks facilitated access to capital; Glimcher was able to survive through “very little layoffs,” a salary freeze and adjustments to its 401(k) offerings, Yale says. “The good news is it’s all been reinstated.”

Glimcher was able to raise money via the public markets in 2009, Yale says, a strategy it soon repeated: Between 2010 and 2011, the company generated nearly $500 million though the sale of common and preferred shares. In mid-February, Glimcher reported improved store sales, occupancy and growth in comparable mall net operating income for fiscal year 2011, but posted a net loss to common shareholders of $5 million, down from $16.4 million the prior year. The improvement was due largely to the sale of Polaris Towne Center.

The REIT is now looking to transform “with a real focus on quality,” says Yale. That includes the quality of its staff—it employs 1,000 people nationwide, including 150 at its Downtown office—as well as the caliber of its real estate and the condition of its balance sheet. “We like to make the analogy that in 2008, 2009, we were digging ourselves out of a hole; now we’re climbing a mountain. Climbing a mountain can be hard, but it’s a lot more fun than getting out of the hole,” Yale says.

A few years back, Glimcher properties averaged sales per square foot of $300; at year’s end it stood at $404. With 27 properties, Glimcher is “probably the smallest public mall company out there. … But we’re large enough to compete,” says Yale, adding that Glimcher’s size makes it nimble and responsive. It also means “that one or two of the right acquisitions can make a significant difference in the portfolio of the company,” Yale says.

Glimcher Chief Operating Officer Marshall Loeb calls Yale “steady and dependable, and all the things you would want” in a CFO. Yale takes a measured aproach to projects, yet revels in the successes. “I think Mark really gets as excited as we do about the new stores and the renovations and things like that,” Loeb says.

Reprinted from the April 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.