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VOL. 126 | NO. 70 | Monday, April 11, 2011

Pinnacle Awards Honor City’s Best Brokers

By Sarah Baker

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As emcee Dan Conaway noted in his opening address Thursday night at the 10th annual Pinnacle Awards, “OK is the new great.”

But despite one of the most historically depressed periods for the commercial real estate industry, local professionals proved they are a force to be reckoned with.

With the theme, “a decade of excellence, a society of top producers, a huge community impact,” the Memphis Area Association of Realtors Commercial Council’s Pinnacle Awards offered new sponsors, new awards and new recipients.

As part of the event’s 10th anniversary, MAAR studied feedback from council members and Atlanta’s Commercial Board of Realtors’ Million Dollar Club Banquet. Sponsors included Bass, Berry & Sims PLC, Caruthers & Associates Inc., Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, Magna Bank, Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC and The Daily News and The Memphis News.

Among the evening’s highest honors was Commercial Hall of Fame inductee William “Buck” Clark of Clark & Clark, recognizing his career involvement and contributions to the real estate community.

Now retired, Clark is renowned for leading landmark developments in the city like the White Station and Clark towers in East Memphis, and helping his sons launch the Lenox Park Office project at Kirby Parkway and Tenn. 385.

“Clark & Clark is a tribe and it is that tribe that is the true honoree tonight,” Clark said in his acceptance speech.

Another top honoree was Kelly Truitt, president of CB Richard Ellis Memphis, who picked up the Commercial Broker of the Year award, determined by a committee of past recipients.

Among Truitt’s most recent transactions are working with Pinnacle Airlines Corp. in selecting One Commerce Square for its new headquarters. It was the largest corporate relocation to Downtown since AutoZone Inc. moved to Front Street in the 1990s, also a deal Truitt helped assemble involving more than 40 parcels of land.

“Sometimes we (the brokerage community) fight, argue, get tough on each other, but we do it for the right reasons,” Truitt said.

Truitt then challenged the audience with two objectives for the next year: be advocates for the city by stressing its good points to clients and peers, and improve accessibility by being more involved in the community.

This year, MAAR presented 23 Pinnacle Elite awards, given to the highest-producing commercial brokers based on sales and leasing activities in 2010. Their transactions exceeded $843 million last year, a 30 percent increase from 2009’s sales volume of $651.2 million.

Pinnacle Elite recipients included CBRE’s Scott Barton, Tommy Bronson, Pat Gamble, Ron Kastner, Johnny Lamberson, Jim Mercer, Brad Murchison, Blake Pera, Frank Quinn, Patrick Reilly, Truitt and Alex Turley; Colliers International’s Andy Cates, Mike Driscoll, Brad Kornegay, Andrew Phillips and Dan Wilkinson; Commercial Advisors LLC’s Kemp Conrad and Mark Jenkins; Highwoods Properties Inc.’s John Mercer; StoneCrest Investments’ Jason Polley, Southern Properties’ Bob Turner; and Woodyard Realty Corp.’s Steve Woodyard.

Among the Pinnacle Elite winners, Broker of the Year awards were presented to the top producers in eight categories: Kornegay, industrial leasing landlord rep; Jim Mercer, industrial leasing tenant rep; Lamberson, investment sales; Kastner, office leasing landlord rep; Truitt, office leasing tenant rep; Polley, retail; Pera, multifamily; and Turner, land sales.

The Newcomer of the Year award – the highest producing broker with no more than two years experience in the industry – was presented to Grant Ridgway of CBRE. And the President’s Club award was given to Russ Westlake of Jones Lang LaSalle’s for his work in office and industrial.

Also this year, the introductory Pinnacle Producers Club recognized brokers that achieved at least $2 million in production, and the council presented Pinnacle Airlines Corp. with the inaugural Community Impact Award in recognition of the company’s substantial investment in Memphis as a partner.

Nikki Tinker, director of corporate real estate projects for the Memphis-based airline, attributed Truitt and the CBRE team as a driving force in the company’s relocation.

“We certainly have a friendship that will last far beyond this lease,” she said.

PROPERTY SALES 56 295 6,392
MORTGAGES 26 180 4,035
BUILDING PERMITS 128 840 15,361
BANKRUPTCIES 31 153 3,270