Meet the executive team
Michael Braun is president of Grit Development, formerly known as Wessman Development. Michael joined Wessman Development in 2003 as senior vice president and chief financial officer. He assumed complete management of the company following John Wessman’s formal retirement in February 2017. He formally changed the company name to Grit Development to better reflect the company’s new management and goals moving forward.
As president, Michael oversees all aspects of the Palm Springs downtown revitalization project plus a full portfolio of real estate assets. Grit Development’s portfolio consists of over one million square feet of commercial real estate assets including shopping centers, hotels and housing projects.
Earlier in his career, Michael was a partner and chief investment officer at Pinnacle Securities in New York where he managed various currency partnerships and portfolio funds. Over the course of his 15-year career in fixed income and currency markets at JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch in Frankfurt, London and New York, he advised some of the largest hedge funds in the world, two of the biggest mutual funds in the U.S. and key Asian sovereign funds along with the most prestigious car manufacturers and mutual funds in Germany.
Michael holds an MBA in finance and accounting from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany and is a member of ICSC.
Tom joined Grit Development in 2017 as a consultant to fulfill the CFO position. He has been with the company since 1988 and served as the Company’s independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Thomas has been in public practice since 1980 and brings his immeasurable financial and tax experience to the company. In 1985, Thomas relocated to the Palm Springs area and has been a respected member of the local professional business community. Upon opening his own practice in 2003, his clientele primarily has been focused in commercial real estate and real estate development.
As CFO, Thomas’s responsibilities include oversight of the accounting and finance functions of the Company. These include internal and external financial reporting as well as assuring compliance with our various financial lending partners. He will also continue in his role of providing tax compliance and planning services.
In addition to his accounting practice, he has authored and presented numerous continuing education courses for the AICPA and the CalCPA Education Foundation. He has been recognized twice for the CalCPA award for instructor excellence. Thomas earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University and continued on to obtain his CPA license.
Octavio Fernandez is senior vice president of Grit Development. He transitioned with Michael from Wessman Development which he joined in 1983.
Octavio has over 30 years of experience in the commercial construction industry. With his expertise in commercial real estate and construction management, he oversees all project development and construction processes. This includes permitting, procurement, contractor selection, negotiations, construction and transition to operations.
Octavio earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Minor in Finance, Insurance and Real Estate from Cal Poly University Pomona.
Mary Flores is Vice President of GPS Asset Management GPS exclusively manages the Grit Portfolio Since joining the company, Flores has quickly excelled and is currently overseeing property management with responsibilities for managing all tenants and leasing negotiations.
With over 10 years of comprehensive Real Estate experience, Flores has developed exceptional relationships with clients and tenants. Her quick learning ability has allowed her to adapt and evolve with industry trends. She is fluent in Spanish and has the ability to handle confidential and sensitive information.