2022 Pride in Business
LGBTQ+ Business of The Year
Hawthorne Capital plans to expand staff, philanthropic footprint while creating a stronger LGBTQ+ community
By Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller
Hawthorne Capital is more than a typical investment firm.
As an LGBTQ+-owned company, its leaders strive to not only serve allies, but also provide an investment opportunity for LGBTQ+ clients.
The firm, owned and operated by Doug Smith and his team of investment professionals, was recently recognized as the 2022 LGBTQ+ Business of the Year at the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber’s annual Pride In Business Celebration.
This award is given to an LGBTQ+-owned member business that is an active participant and champion of the Chamber and committed to the Chamber’s mission. This commitment is reflected in their dedication to the overall community and support of other members.
That commitment rings true for Smith, who isn’t new to the world of real estate investing. Over the last 20 years, he and his team have bought and sold over 100 houses and 4,000 acres of rural land. This background opened the doors for the firm, which was launched approximately four years ago.
At the firm’s core, its fund takes investment dollars and purchases rural real estate in bulk at wholesale prices, explains Jack Berger, vice president of investor relations. Those properties are then improved and sold as small 10-to-15-acre ranchettes at retail pricing.
“We’ve been getting good results for our investors,” Berger said, adding while the fund typically stays within a 60-to-90-mile radius of Houston, they are branching out into an area outside of Dallas. “One of our main goals of the investment fund is to increase LGBTQ+ wealth.”
“Growth is a part of our future,” Berger said. “We are looking for new sales areas. I do think we will stay in Texas for the time being, as we expand our staff and hopefully our philanthropic footprint as well.”
Based in Houston, Hawthorne Capital currently has 15 employees, ranging from sales to administration. One year ago, it managed $5 million of investor capital. That number now tops $20 million.
Part of the LGBTQ+ Community
Hawthorne Capital joined the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce in several years ago.
Berger said the membership was one way the team could work toward the goal of increasing LGBTQ+ wealth. “There are a number of LGBTQ+ professional organizations in the city of Houston,” Berger said. “We wanted to tell the Hawthorne story every chance we could, growing one quality investment at a time.”
Berger said Smith has continually set aside a portion of the annual budget in order to invest in the LGBTQ+ community. This includes supporting a variety of nonprofit organizations.
“Placing such a high priority on community involvement shows other LGBTQ+ companies how to build brand and corporate goodwill,” Berger said. “More importantly, our goal is to use that involvement to create a stronger LGBTQ+ community.”
Hawthorne Capital’s investment in the community includes sponsoring AIDS Foundation Houston’s annual AIDS Walk and World AIDS Day events. This spring it worked with Bunnies on the Bayou, which helps raise funds for 20 LGBTQ+ beneficiaries during the Easter season.
Another project includes the Montrose Center, which provides services for members of the youth and senior LGBTQ+ communities, and this year, the fund sponsored the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s Pride In Business Celebration.
It’s also expanding into Out for Education, a Houston-based nonprofit which provides scholarship funds for LGBTQ+ youth. Future plans call for the establishment of an additional Hawthorne Capital scholarship, which will benefit a student pursuing a career in finance and business.
“Hawthorne Capital has a multifaceted outlook,” Berger said. “We take a very active role, a leadership role, by investing back into our community via nonprofit organizations.”
Berger said fund officials strive to work with young LGBTQ+ professionals, to help them grow not only in the business world but also as potential future investors.
“We support LGBTQ+-owned businesses whenever we can,” Berger said. “If we’re ordering shirts, or catering an event, re-designing the office or commissioning an artist, we often seek out and work with LGBTQ+ providers.”
Hawthorne Capital’s offices are located at 1210 W. Clay St. in Houston. For more information, visit www.hawthornecapital.com or connect with the company through their Hawthorne Capital Facebook page.