Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. is a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT) headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, and with forty-three outlet centers in twenty-one states and Canada, the company welcomes more than 180 million shoppers annually. Tanger employees’ admiration for the company and devotion to the brand stems from an impressive blend of partnership, collaboration, and personal growth opportunities. Profile sat down with Tanger executives to understand how the company has set itself apart as an industry leader.
The average tenure of executive leadership at Tanger is fifteen years, and integrity is one of your highest priorities. I’d love to hear you talk about the connection between longevity and integrity.
Virginia Summerell: You can’t have integrity without longevity. In other words, you need to take the long view to build credibility. As CEO Steve Tanger often says, “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a minute to ruin it.”
Cyndi Holt: It’s relationship-based. Whether it’s my interactions with investors—or Carrie’s with the brands, Lisa’s with retailers, or Virginia with the finance industry—we’ve all developed relationships based on mutual respect. Credibility is built over time through face-to-face contact, transparent conversation, and following through on your commitments.
Lisa Morrison: Relationships are definitely important. Our leasing team is account-based, so retail clients are assigned their own account manager who invests in learning their particular needs and goals. We pride ourselves on delivering value to our retail partners.
What else has given you a personal sense of pride throughout your careers at Tanger?
Summerell: When Tanger went public, there were about six other developers that went public at the same time. Today, we are the only one that is still its own unique company. I’m most proud of our reputation. Tanger Factory Outlets is known for its excellent stewardship of shareholder capital.
Carrie Geldner: I’m proud of how we have been able to successfully evolve our brand and elevate the Tanger experience for our shoppers and retailers. We have built a brand that’s consistent and recognizable across markets and platforms. Communicating the Tanger story in an ever-evolving and impactful way is a labor of love and a source of great pride for me.
Morrison: The people I work with at Tanger are hardworking, loyal, and highly experienced. We’ve been through a lot together and have stood beside each other through a multitude of professional and personal changes. I’m passionate about our team, and I’m most proud of their success.
Tanger has a reputation for being a diverse and empowering place to work. As female executives, what does that mean to you, and how has that shaped your experience?
Morrison: Early on, Tanger embraced work-life balance, such that we as women felt free to communicate our struggles in balancing motherhood and career. Tanger has always valued intelligence and integrity from the beginning, and that’s why there was no limit to a woman’s—or anyone’s—ability to succeed here.
Holt: In my field, I think the general challenges are similar and have nothing to do with gender. Hard work and initiative are rewarded at Tanger, which is a thing I have loved about the company from the beginning.
Geldner: I agree. It’s about people—women and men—being smart and skilled. The company places value on dedication and strong stewardship of the business.
Summerell: Yes, more than anything we encourage excellence. I’ve never felt there was any barrier because I’m a woman—we’re all on an even playing field. The culture is much more focused on adding value to the team.
How does diversity create value at Tanger?
Steve Tanger, CEO: Diversity is at the heart of our business and our mission is to mirror the rich diversity of the marketplace we serve. Our employees represent individuals of all religions, ages, sexual orientations, cultures, physical abilities, military background, and education levels. By building an inclusive workplace environment, where unique talents, perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds are celebrated, Tanger Outlets strives to create a culture of empowerment that fosters innovation, economic growth, and new ideas.
Holt: Our executive leadership team is half men and half women, and the diversity of such a balanced team is an advantage. Diversity of background is just as important because it creates an open dialogue that fosters sharing and recognizes the value of differing points of view. Those values help us stay on top of new brands and shopping trends.
Geldner: From a marketing perspective, diversity is a huge factor. Our customers are diverse and our company must be a reflection of our various customer base of shoppers, retailers, and shareholders. That can only come from a commitment to creating an inclusive workplace.
Morrison: I don’t know how you conduct business successfully without embracing diversity. It’s all-encompassing. In assembling our leasing team, we sought people with diverse backgrounds and expertise. We have folks who started in accounting, one in legal, a couple from the retail side—so we as a group have an understanding of the whole business model. I think that’s true about diversity in general: when you have different points of view and you allow them to be heard, you’re more likely to make good decisions.
What are your secrets for leading impactful teams at Tanger?
Holt: It goes back to integrity and relationships—a culture that demonstrates mutual respect, builds trust, and credibility. People want to feel good about the company they work for. And while we are a multibillion-dollar enterprise today, we have retained our entrepreneurial spirit and family-business values. Our culture encourages employees to be creative and take initiative.
Geldner: The key is to hire smart people, empower them to do their job, and get out of the way. As department leaders, it is important to embrace that entrepreneurial spirit at all levels because that influence comes from the top.
Summerell: Encouraging personal growth, learning, and exploration is so important. Cyndi worked for Tanger in accounting, then left before I hired her back into finance. When she realized she had an interest in investor relations and her interest met a growing need with the company, we encouraged her to develop the skill set to meet those challenges.
The opportunity for growth both intellectually and professionally at Tanger has continued to engage me. Nothing about my position has ever become stale. I’m probably as excited to come to work now as I was my very first day.
A Commitment to Community
Since 1994, Tanger Outlets has been dedicated to giving back. The highest concentration of charitable giving has been focused on breast cancer research and the education of young children. It also supports local law enforcement and emergency medical personnel by contributing to new equipment purchases and outreach events.
As of last year, Tanger Outlets has donated more than $16.3 million.