The memory is scorched in Andy Cates’ mind.
It was 2005 and Cates, just 29 years old at the time, was being made a partner at Colliers International Memphis, the commercial real estate firm.
When it came time for Cates to sign the stockholders book, he noticed he was etching his signature under that of Robert Snowden, who founded what was then Colliers Wilkinson in 1946 with Russell Wilkinson.
Brad Kornegay and Andy Cates have taken majority ownership in Colliers International Memphis, ushering in a new generation of leadership at the storied firm.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
“One of the highlights of my career to date, and we’ve been involved with a lot of big deals, important deals, but the biggest highlight of my career was when I signed the stockholders book under Bob Snowden,” said Cates. “The gravity of the situation was not lost on me.”
Today, Cates and Brad Kornegay have taken majority ownership in Colliers International Memphis, ushering in a new generation of leadership at the storied commercial real estate company after becoming the majority shareholders in the two legal entities that collectively do business as Colliers International Memphis.
“We hope to continue running the business with the values and integrity that have been instilled in us by our partners,” said Kornegay, who joined the firm in 2004.
With continuity in mind, Kornegay will continue to serve as CEO of Colliers Management Services LLC and Cates will continue to oversee brokerage. The office’s Asset Services group currently has more than 33 million square feet of industrial, retail and office space under management and/or leasing.
Colliers has a long and notable history in the Memphis market.
The founding fathers of the firm played a key role in helping make Memphis a hotbed for distribution and logistics.
In the early 1960s, Robert Snowden and Russell Wilkinson purchased 234 acres from the Frisco Railroad, eventually developing that into the 1,400-acre, 16 million-square-foot Airport Industrial Park, a major development that helped pave the way for Memphis to become known as America’s Distribution Center.
Dan Wilkinson, Russell Wilkinson’s nephew, joined the firm in 1960. Bayard Snowden, Robert Snowden’s son, came onboard in 1976 and Gene Woods joined the firm in 1971.
Those three men represented the “second generation” of the company founded in 1946 as Colliers Wilkinson.
In 1991, Wilkinson Snowden affiliated with Colliers International, which was then a partnership of independently owned commercial real estate firms. The Memphis office is one of a number of Colliers offices that continues to be owned independently. In 2010, the Memphis office adopted the Colliers International name as part of a strategic integration into a single, global platform of both owned and non-owned Colliers offices.
Cates said that leadership at Colliers International Memphis has always taken the long view, including planning for a change in leadership.
“They’ve always felt the need for succession planning so it’s probably been in the works for several years,” said Cates. “I think from their perspective it was time to pass the torch.”
Cates and Kornegay said that a key to a major transition is to not make major changes immediately. For now, they plan to focus on growing the company’s retail and office operations.
Over the last three years, Ron Riley, Frazier Baker and Will Barden have joined the company to expand the office team. Ed Thomas joined the company in 2007 and teams with Andrew Phillips to provide retail tenant representation and disposition services.
“For the most part we’ll be status quo for a while,” said Kornegay.
“I think one thing you will see more of is the growth of the office and retail sides.”