The Helm Management Co. - A Narrative History
In the late 1960s, after two years of college and one year in Memphis, Tennessee, courtesy of the US Navy, Thomas Hensley and his wife Barbara, left their childhood homes in Ohio for Oxnard, California, when Thomas was relocated once again by the US Navy.
Once in California, a concept not yet a gleam in Thomas Hensley’s eye was a twinkle when as a Navy Airman 2nd class, he began to think of his future after a long west passage to Vietnam aboard the aircraft carrier the Coral Sea.
When it was decided that he and his wife would supplement their living expenses during their college years by becoming apartment managers, it seemed to be an excellent balance of education and employment. It was not long until his employer saw the talents of this young man and his willingness to work hard that he was promoted to the position of property manager.
As true of many aspiring individuals, challenges are the fire in the souls and hearts of many an entrepreneur. Deciding to make a move to open a property management division at a new and growing firm, Thomas left his position. Under the watchful and critical eye of the owner, a retired Navy Blue Angel pilot, he organized the property management division for the limited partnerships (apartments) of this real estate office. While employed by this firm, Thomas not only fine-tuned his skills as a property manager, but also obtained the CPM® designation so highly regarded in the field of property management.
As time passed, Thomas felt the pull of independence and without looking back left the comfort of an established, well paying position to start out on his own. With the assistance of family and friends, the beginnings of The Helm converged. Set up as a home based office, the first properties were small, but the expertise of Thomas’ management skills was quite evident to real estate owners. It was not quite a year when the opportunity to buy a retiring property manager’s business and goodwill occurred. Determined to grow and become more professional, this small real estate management company moved from its home office to an office in Little Italy near downtown San Diego.
During the years from 1979 through 1985, The Helm Management Co. set its future on growth. Much of Thomas’ property management was in the new and specialized field of resort and HOA property management. While assisting developers in budget preparation and management of these properties, he was also involved in development of two of these unique vacation concepts. His management skills took him to Missouri, Utah, Nevada, and Northern California. He spent most of his time traveling, away from San Diego, and away from his growing family and friends.
The Helm Management Co. was growing, but the control of the company had to be divided. By 1985, it was decided that family and friends were pulling Thomas back to his base in San Diego. It was decided that San Diego had enough growth and property for this family based business to succeed in property management. Slowly, expansion in San Diego County was the target, and the original concept of The Helm Management Co. was re-visited: “With a firm hand on the present, and an eye to the future.”
Today, The Helm Management Co. is anchored at its offices in La Mesa, CA. It still espouses its family business ideals, hands on approach to management, and personal customized treatment of clients. In addition to three timeshare resorts (all award winners), The Helm’s portfolio consists of Association management, various commercial properties, apartments, and single-family dwellings.