Case Studies

Jon Fahning – Tailwind Group, Inc.

Meeting the demands of a changing landscape

With over 30 years of experience in construction, real estate development and project management, Jon Fahning has seen and done it all. No matter what industry, customer service and providing a quality experience for the client has been crucial. And that is especially true now in his role as Director of Development for Tailwind Group, Inc. 

“Responsiveness to meeting the needs of our customers is a key factor in today’s leasing environment,” Fahning says.  

Jon Fahning | Director of Real Estate Development | Tailwind Group, Inc.

Jon Fahning | Director of Real Estate Development | Tailwind Group, Inc.

Mankato, Minnesota-based Tailwind Group is a multi-faceted real estate development, management, and owner/operator that has historically been focused primarily on student housing development. However, upon his arrival, Fahning was tasked with assisting in building upon the existing student housing portfolio and expanding the commercial real estate portfolio to help the company create and enhance the two business units.  

“By leveraging our expertise in both sectors, our teams have been focused on further strengthening and enhancing Tailwind’s current portfolio,” he says.  

Growing the company 

One of the significant projects Fahning and the Tailwind teams are currently leading is the ground-up development of a 73-acre mixed-use property in Iowa City, Iowa. The development includes affordable housing and residential, commercial, and retail spaces. Tailwind’s purchase of the property was completed in November, and Fahning says there will be about 14 to 16 months of entitlement work before breaking ground.  

In College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, the Tailwind teams are working on adding 102 units (378 beds) to the company’s Landing at College Station property. This location already includes one and two-bedroom apartments—residents can utilize a 24-hour fitness center, two pools, a hot tub, tennis courts and the city’s largest dog park. Set to deliver Summer 2025 

Jon Fahning | Director of Real Estate Development | Tailwind Group, Inc.

The Landing at Fayetteville project at the University of Arkansas includes a clubhouse renovation, a new fitness center and an additional 48 units totaling 156 new beds. The clubhouse and fitness center are set to be delivered in the third and fourth quarters of 2024, while the delivery date for the additional units has yet to be identified.   

Working on student and commercial projects takes collaboration, and Tailwind’s real estate team comprises three groups: development, construction and commercial property management. Fahning says the finance, investment, and accounting teams are in the mix, too, as are all the student operation and management teams alongside our corporate leadership team.  

“As an integrated real estate company, we often cross-pollinate as we all work toward the end result,” Fahning explains.  

Fahning says Tailwind has been fortunate in recruiting and retaining employees because of its upward mobility program that lets people grow and advance in their careers. The company also allows its employees to expand their knowledge and experience outside their normal day-to-day function while focusing on integrating fun on a regular basis into the daily workloads. 

“Our turnover is below what is often seen in our industry,” Fahning says. “It is a testament to the environment and culture our leadership has built and fostered.”

Working and building 

When Fahning last spoke to Blueprint magazine in August 2020, he was collaborating with the  Bremer Bank executive team to respond to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those challenges were many, and Fahning says he learned a lot about himself while tackling something not experienced by almost anyone at the time.  

Over his three-decade-plus career, Fahning’s leadership style has evolved, and he credits the many leaders he’s worked for and with alongside the external partners he’s collaborated with developing his leadership acumen. Seeing how different people approach situations has given him the luxury of applying best practices and identifying solutions that work. 

Jon Fahning | Director of Real Estate Development | Tailwind Group, Inc.

“Always trying to improve keeps me focused on looking at different methods and approaches and new ways to lead,” Fahning says. “Leading by example is crucial. All hands on deck will always be my mantra.” 

Working in this industry has challenges, but the hardest part of Fahning’s job is saying no. He says every task is achievable, provided you have the autonomy and authority to identify solutions independently and as a team. He says that thinking outside the box while staying in their lane is a continuous challenge, too.  

While saying no is never easy, the most challenging part of Fahning’s career has been maintaining a work-life balance, as many of his work colleagues have developed into deep friendships. He loves the industry and has had to learn when to stop. 

“With the passion for the industry and the complexity of the projects, it has often been hard to put the book down, so to speak,” he says.  

When he isn’t working, Fahning enjoys time with his family in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. He has a son who graduated from the Naval Academy and is attending flight school to learn how to fly Naval helicopters. His other son is in the second semester of his freshman year at Annapolis. Fahning and his wife, Nicole, also have a daughter who is a junior in high school preparing for the college transition and a daughter finishing up her eighth-grade year, both just as active as their older brothers.  

“I am an avid golfer, skier, boater, jet skier and snowmobiler, and we love traveling as a family,” Fahning says. “I’m very happy with where life has taken me and always looking to enjoy it to its full extent.” 

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IV 2024 Edition here.

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