VOL. 126 | NO. 5 | Friday, January 7, 2011
Riley Poised to Lead MAAR Commercial Council in 2011
By Sarah Baker
Ron Riley launched his sales career by selling copiers and printers at Xerox Corp. shortly after receiving his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Memphis.
Riley (Photo: Lance Murphey)
At the time, his wife was working in accounting, where she was very much involved in the commercial real estate realm. The more functions and networking Riley was exposed to, the more “intrigued by commercial real estate” he became.
Upon joining Parkway Properties Inc. – a public Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) – Riley experienced “boot camp,” learning the fundamentals of property management. Parkway would also lead Riley to Bert Canfield, a mentor who took him under his wing from the beginning.
“The business is not difficult, it’s all the nuances that come with it,” Riley said. “He (Canfield) spent a tremendous amount of time when he didn’t have to really teach me the business.”
Riley spent four years at Parkway before Steve Guinn and Tom Morgan hired him at Trammell Crow Co., a commercial real estate provider of third-party leasing and management services. It was at Trammell Crow that Riley would learn about in-house leasing, and also meet colleague Frazier Baker.
One of Trammel Crow’s clients was In-Rel Management, now known as In-Rel Properties Inc. After a brief tenure at Trammell Crow, Riley was asked to come work for In-Rel, where he works today as executive vice president of operations. (For more on In-Rel’s rebranding, see the Jan. 4 issue of The Daily News).
Since joining the company in 2003, Riley has completed more than 450 lease transactions totaling 2.5 million square feet and $200 million in revenue. He also has overseen 20 new acquisitions and refinancings totaling in excess of $300 million.
Riley has been a member of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors Commercial Council since its inaugural year in 2003. The greatest honor of Riley’s professional world has been the nomination of his peers to lead the council this year, whose past presidents include industry veterans such as Wyatt Aiken of Commercial Advisors LLC, Irvin Skopp of Belz Realty Co. LLC and Guinn of Highwoods.
As president, Riley plans to enhance the services the council already provides, like the Commercial Forecast Summit and the Pinnacle Awards, which honor members for noteworthy sales and leasing performance. Riley has received awards in six out of eight years since MAAR began the program in 2002.
But this year’s awards have been totally revamped, based more off of Atlanta’s program with a new format that allows additional people to be recognized.
“We have a tremendous amount of buy-in already from the sponsors, we’ve already exceeded last year’s sponsors for events,” Riley said. “That’s a true testament to the value that it provides to the local commercial real estate community, as well as those that it touch – the bankers, architects, engineers, attorneys – it’s not just commercial real estate people.”
Riley plans to truly leave his mark by giving back. In the spring, the commercial council will hold its first annual golf tournament benefiting Make-A-Wish.
“No question, it’s been a tough environment, but we’re all fortunate in the commercial real estate world to have jobs, and there is stuff that we can do to give back as an organization,” Riley said.
While a golf tournament is nothing unique, it will provide an opportunity for people to get together, do some networking and ultimately see the fruits of their labor. Once the tournament is over, Make-A-Wish will present the wish to the selected boy or girl in the evening after dinner.
Another unique aspect of the new philanthropy component is that the board has committed to analyze – and perhaps change – the benefiting charity of the event each year.
“The thought behind that is, with 350 members – with their families, children and their spouses – there may be something in a particular year that touches a particular member, a charity that we may want to shift the focus of that event for,” Riley said. “We feel like for the first year, Make-A-Wish will be a good one for people to really see and feel the impact.”
Riley also is working with the council to expand its education offerings, by including more speakers and continuing education hours. He’s asked chair of the Education Committee Clayton Watson of Palmer Brothers Inc. and commercial council executive vice president Melanie Blakeney to reach out to sister real estate organizations – like Nashville’s Greater Nashville Association of Realtors – to bring in fresh ideas.
Riley holds his Principal Brokers License and is a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designee. In addition, he serves as a member of the Alumni Board of Directors for Briarcrest School – his alma mater – and the board of directors for the Community Forum, a nonprofit agency.