The Paideia School

Andy Lorber '00 and Steve O’Brien '00

First off, tell us a little bit about your background. What all have you been doing since you graduated Paideia, and where are you now?

Andy: After I graduated from Paideia, I went to Columbia University and focused on political science and Middle Eastern Politics. After a brief stint as a terrorism analyst, I came back to Columbia and received my Master’s Degree with a focus on International Finance.  Soon after I graduated, I joined Bedrock Advisors, a NYC based asset management firm, where I co-managed a $100 million hedge fund portfolio. In 2012, I relocated back to Atlanta and co-founded Orpheus Brewing with my Paideia classmate Will Arnold ’00. Last year, I returned to my academic and familial roots in multifamily real estate. I am so excited to partner with my close friend and fellow Paideia alum Steve O’Brien ’00 as we work to expand Steve’s already successful real estate investment and management firm, Arcan Capital. 

Steve: After leaving Paideia, I went on to get my undergraduate degree in business  from Emory University. In addition to starting and investing in several small businesses early on, I began working in real estate as an analyst for CBRE in Atlanta. Following the financial crisis, I partnered with a local wealth advisor to launch a real estate platform investing in and managing apartments throughout the southeastern United States. In 2016, I founded Arcan Capital to further expand my platform. And then I tricked Andy into joining me last year 

Andy Lorber '00 and Steve O’Brien '00

With regards to your latest venture together, tell us what it is? What you all will share as coworkers and if/how the Paideia alumni community can help support you?

Andy/Steve: Our new venture is very exciting. Essentially, we are building off the success Arcan has had investing in, rehabbing and managing mid-sized apartment communities. While Arcan currently owns and manages 17 properties around the Southeast, we want to grow Arcan into a more institutional firm and so we have partnered up to launch a $50 million investment fund, which fits our two skill sets really well. The fund intends to purchase 8-12 apartment properties in undervalued markets around the Southeast and we will manage the fund and properties together. 

It’s always interesting when Paideia alums end up working together on something-how did the two of you reconnect and how did you come up with this idea?

Andy: Like many Paideiaites, the friendship that we formed at the school has truly been lifelong. In fact, even after I moved to New York and Steve stayed in Atlanta, we would still hang out a few times a year. As the years went on, we always admired each other’s professional success and came to understand just how similarly we think. 

Steve: Last year we were enjoying  a long weekend together with a few of our close friends (also Paideia classmates) on my boat at Lake Burton. As is usual for us, the conversation centered around our shared Paideia experiences, politics and, of course, business. Specifically, we were discussing the challenges of both being small business owners and I mentioned that I was looking to take Arcan to the next level. Given our respective skill sets and mutual trust, we both realized that it made a lot of sense to partner together. 

Have you noticed any shared professional or personal characteristics about working with one another that you can attribute to your long time at Paideia? Is there something unique about the Paideia experience that helps alums work well together? Or not?

Andy: I think that the answer to this is absolutely, yes. As I mentioned earlier, Steve and I think very similarly. In my mind, there is no question that this is because Paideia instilled in us a desire to learn, grow and constantly question. Perhaps even more important is that Paideia taught us how to be collaborative. I believe that our partnership is successful because we listen to one another and act as a team, rather than just two individuals with different skill sets. 

Steve: I completely agree. Paideia prepares you mentally for most challenges, but the people are what really make it special. We both feel like the “real world” had some rude awakenings and the work ethic and integrity Paideia instills is paramount for us both. Business is a huge part of our lives and sharing that with someone requires immense trust and a great attitude and those traits are not ubiquitous.

Were there teachers and/or experiences during your time at Paideia that helped shape who you are, what you do etc. Follow up, any favorite teacher (s) you want to give a thank you or a shout out to?

Andy: I had a lot of outstanding teachers. From Missy Aue in 1st and 2nd grade all the way up to Joanna Gibson and Donna Ellwood in high school. That said, I’ve always felt that Paideia’s strength is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Steve: Too many great teachers to name that supported me despite my behavior. Marty Hays will always have a special place for me. He was both a teacher and a coach. Speaking of which, how about coaches? In addition to Marty, EJ Jackson and Rodney “Truck” Turner were very important figures in my life.

If you could go back and time and give the high-school version of yourself advice, what would it be?

Andy: Hard work pays off. Always be open to new ideas. Nurture your relationships as much as you can. 

Steve: Aim really high. Do what you say you are going to do. Work as hard as you can and always have fun.