The seminal moment for Insignis Partners, a new investment and real estate development firm in Greenville, happened several years ago on an Upstate golf course where Kyle Putnam, then a partner in RealOp Investments, and Paul Sparks, then with CertusBank, crossed paths.
“We were paired up together at a charity golf tournament,” Putnam remembers. “That’s how we first met.” It was 2013. Within a year, Sparks had joined Putnam at RealOp, a real estate development company, as a third partner.
Meanwhile, a lawyer named Seph Wunder was in Spartanburg working as general counsel for the Johnson family. But the entrepreneurial and real estate development bug bit him, bringing him back to Greenville in early 2014 where he rejoined Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, whose client list included RealOp. In 2015, Wunder joined RealOp as general counsel. “From there, we launched like a rocket ship … grew very fast,” Wunder remembers.
But the decision for Putnam, Sparks and Wunder to exit RealOp and form their own partnership came in part through Wunder’s efforts in the private equity space, which fueled the trio’s desire to put all their energies into their own venture.
Combined, the three men have executed over $5 billion in real estate transactions and have over 50 years of combined investment experience, according to information on their just-launched website. Leveraging that experience, Insignis Partners will focus primarily on the development and acquisition of commercial real estate assets and strategic investments in lower-middle market operating companies that other firms might overlook.
“Kyle, Seph, and I agree this is an optimal time to identify and pursue 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-centered investments which, alongside our real estate holdings, include family health care services and environmentally conscious packaging.”
What’s in a name?
The three I’s
Knowing 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’d take on stuff because we had to pay the rent, pay the bills,” Putnam jokes. “I think now we have a little more of the luxury to be selective, take on what we want to take on.” Not to mention the “why” behind their projects and investments. “We’re here to make great investments, make no mistake,” he says. “But our goal is to carry that success on to our employees and the community — to everyone in our collective sphere.”