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When Jason Hughes launched his tenant representation company, he envisioned a mission to provide tenants and buyers with the personalized representation they deserve. More than 11 years later, that’s exactly what the San Diego CEO is still doing. 

Jason Hughes has an undeniable sparkle in his eye when he discusses his company Hughes Marino. He built the business with his wife, Shay, and now it stands as the largest tenant and buyer representation firm in San Diego — and one of the largest in the nation. Offering tenant and buyer representation, lease restructuring, sale-leaseback transactions, and a roster of other corporate-tenant based services, Jason Hughes says he’s dedicated his career to championing the underdog and shepherding a brand focused on results.  

In such a competitive industry, Jason Hughes has not only managed to survive but thrive, staying true to his company’s core values of enjoying the journey, embracing the family spirit, and delivering excellence in every project.  

His team has overseen a variety of commercial projects in San Diego’s fast-growing life science scene and the challenges it’s created for existing office space in the area. His firm has been on the ground floor of assisting biotech brands secure lab space and determining what makes the most sense, from leasing to buying to constructing a building for their clients.  

Why Jason Hughes Remains a Key Industry Leader 

“It’s kind of a weird thing in our industry to even talk about corporate love. That’s just the furthest thing from anybody’s repertoire in our particular industry,” Jason Hughes says. “But yet that’s exactly why it’s so important and why we’re having such an influence on people and why they’re so happy and fulfilled. I mean, you could call any broker in our company and ask if they enjoy working here, ask if they’re really happy, ask if it’s made a difference in their life. I would be shocked if not everybody says, ‘Not only has it done all of that, but it’s transformed my life in so many other ways.’” 

Since the day Jason Hughes ventured out to start his own business, he knew he was onto something huge that could potentially impact San Diego commercial properties and the art of tenant representation forever. He says he also set out on the noble mission to grow an amazing company while not losing its soul and keeping a focus on taking excellent care of clients. 

“We’re setting the stage of what’s important to us. This is an unhappy business for a lot of brokers,” Jason Hughes says. “But if you can really enjoy the process, and really do great work for your clients, and have great teammates and partnerships, that’s what it’s all about. That gets back to the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. And then if you’re living that, you’re a success.” 

Although many companies across the nation and even globally either downsized or closed altogether during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jason Hughes and his team were not only able to weather the storm, but experienced tremendous growth and even opened a Denver office. Staying in touch with his team via video calls, weekly broker town halls, and Zoom meetings, he never lost the camaraderie he had with his crew — and that kept morale going, according to the corporate expert. “We were growing when everyone else was pulling in the reins. And we’re really proud of how we handled everything,” he recalls.  

Excitement About the Future in San Diego and Beyond 

He says one of the secrets to his company’s success is to never become stagnant.  

“Building a successful company takes total commitment, a lot of creativity, and a great team of people,” he says. “We’re excited about what we’ve done — but even more enthusiastic about the future.” 

With headquarters in San Diego, the seasoned CEO has gone on to open offices in Orange County, Walnut Creek, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. There are plans to continue to expand to new cities but only with careful consideration, according to Hughes. Adding new members to his team is a meticulous process, and opening potential office locations is done with scrupulous strategy too. He always asks the question: How do we work to have an incredible company long-term, rather than have a “let’s just grow to grow” attitude? 

“We’re now open to putting feelers out there, and hopefully, we will be a true national or international company here in the coming decade,” he says. “That’s our objective at this point. Without compromising our values and what we’re all about as a company and as a core, as individuals. We will not compromise that. So if it takes longer, so be it, but we want to do it right. We are providing something that nobody else is providing.” 

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