More than a bottom line: Upstate trio launch Insignis, a new real estate and private equity firm

The seminal moment for Insignia Partnersa new real estate investment and development company in Greenville, performed several years ago on an upstate golf course where Kyle Putnam, then a partner of RealOp Investments, and Paul Sparks, then of CertusBank , bump into each other.

“We were paired up at a charity golf tournament,” Putnam recalled. “That’s how we first met.” That was in 2013. Within a year, Sparks had joined Putnam at RealOp, a real estate development company, as a third partner.

“The idea that was generated from that due diligence grew into a business with 10 sites, 150 employees and we’ve seen thousands of patients.” -Paul Sparks, Partner, Insignis

Meanwhile, an attorney named Seph Wunder was in Spartanburg as general counsel for the Johnson family. But the entrepreneurship and property development bug bit him, bringing him back to Greenville in early 2014 where he joined Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, whose client list included RealOp. In 2015 Wunder joined RealOp as General Counsel. “From there, we launched like a rocket…we grew really fast,” recalls Wunder.

But Putnam, Sparks and Wunder’s decision to leave RealOp and form their own partnership came in part thanks to Wunder’s efforts in private equity, which fueled the trio’s desire to put all their energy into their own company.

Together, the three men have executed more than $5 billion in real estate transactions and have more than 50 years of combined investment experience, according to information on their newly launched website. Leveraging this experience, Insignis Partners will primarily focus on developing and acquiring commercial real estate assets and making strategic investments in lower-middle-market operating companies that other companies may overlook.

“Kyle, Seph and I agree that now is a great time to identify and seize disruptive opportunities in new and growing industries,” Sparks says. “We are excited about the opportunity to invest in the continued growth of our current portfolio of community-focused investments which, alongside our real estate assets, includes family healthcare services and eco-friendly packaging. environment.”

What’s in a name?

The partners’ choice to name their company “Insignis” is the result of a branding effort, said Elizabeth Bush of X-Agency in Greenville. Insignis, she says, is the Greek version of the word “insignia”—to leave your mark. “It’s indicative of their main purpose and sums up both their personal and professional relationship,” she says. The three “I’s” in the word represent the three pillars, which are the three partners – Putnam, Sparks and Wunder. The visual brand will reflect this idea.

“I couldn’t ask for better partners, better men,” Sparks says. “The decision, for me, was easy.”

The three i

The three I’s represent ideas that the partners believe will be reflected in their day-to-day philosophy: Invest — a growing and diversified financial portfolio; Inspire – build trust, promote empathy and create enthusiasm; Impact — creating economic opportunity and growth in the community.

Sparks says an example of Insignis’ approach can be found in the partners’ decision to invest in AFC Urgent Care, a provider based in Birmingham, Alabama, with several sites in upstate currently under development. or under renovation.

“The idea that was generated from that due diligence grew into a company with 10 sites, 150 employees, and we’ve seen thousands of patients,” says Sparks. “We have never been closed during the pandemic. We never had to fire anyone during the pandemic.

And they put themselves right in the action, with their headquarters at 110 E. Court St., home to a host of other notable Greenville businesses, including First Horizon Bank, Parker Poe, Cherry Bekaert, Hughes Commercial, Alice Company, Littler, and the Hughes Agency.

Know their “why”

Putnam says Insignis Partners’ investment decisions will be guided by a healthy sense of self-awareness gleaned from years in the trenches. “Back then, we were taking things because we had to pay the rent, pay the bills,” Putnam jokes. “I think now we have a little more luxury to be selective, to take responsibility for what we want to do.” Not to mention the “why” behind their projects and investments. “We are here to make big investments, make no mistake about it,” he says. “But our goal is to pass this success on to our employees and the community – to everyone in our collective sphere.”