When Ryan Takaki, Philip Hasha and Brad Wardlaw enrolled in Harbert College’s Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program, they never expected a group assignment would ultimately inspire them to build a successful business together.

“It was during those group projects that we realized we had something special — an architect who could handle all of the design and construction, a commercial appraiser with experience in real estate finance and valuation, and a successful business owner who knew firsthand how to run a large scale company,” said Phillip Hasha, Redmont Group’s Chief Operating Officer. “Also, it didn’t hurt that after working long hours together on projects, we enjoyed sharing a beer as friends.”

After graduating in 2012, the trio formed Redmont Group, a Honolulu-based full-service commercial real estate firm specializing in design, build, valuation, acquisitions and management. They credit MRED, a distance education program with short campus-based residencies, with bringing the three together and giving them the tools to create a burgeoning commercial real estate development company.

In 2015, Redmont closed its first investment fund and returned an impressive 1.70 equity multiple to its investors in less than 30 months. Furthermore, it has grown to manage more than 1.2 million square feet, and is currently redeveloping an Acura dealership and several other properties in Hawaii and Alabama. In September, Redmont plans to launch its next investment fund with a goal to raise $5 million.

The alumni were eager to give back to the program that contributed to their success, and help future graduates succeed. Therefore, the company stepped up this past April to host an MRED class for a field study experience in Honolulu. In addition to arranging lodging, transportation and meetings, Redmont presented a $25,000 endowment to the program, which was doubled through a “challenge match” by 1982 alumnus Raymond J. Harbert, creating a $50,000 Fund for Excellence.

“Redmont was born out of MRED, and, therefore, we owe a lot to the program,” Hasha said. “I hope this will be the first of many gifts from Redmont, and that this will spur other alumni to give back.”

MRED, offered jointly by the College of Architecture, Design and Construction and the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, enables students to work on multiple projects and participate in domestic and international field studies while continuing to work in their respective professions around the country.

“Where else could a young appraiser and an award-winning architect from Birmingham meet a successful business leader from Hawaii, and decide to start a company together,” noted Hasha. “MRED not only gave us the knowledge and experience of traveling around the world to research real estate, it gave us a network of developers and professors who truly wanted to see our best and would do whatever they could to help us succeed.”