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VOL. 126 | NO. 45 | Monday, March 7, 2011


Colliers Industrial Team Relies on Power of Three

By Sarah Baker

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In today’s challenging commercial real estate market, one Memphis group is providing three brokers for the price of one.

Mike Driscoll, from left, Andy Cates and Preston Thomas comprise an industrial real estate “team” within Colliers International. (Photo: Lance Murphey)

The industrial team of Andy Cates, Preston Thomas and Mike Driscoll of Colliers International offers a level of service that’s often hard to match by working with a single agent.

“It makes sense for one person to do a lot of different things, you can do it, but boy, it makes a lot of sense if one person gets to focus on their niche of expertise,” Driscoll said. “Because of the team framework, being three people versus one, you just can accomplish a lot more.”

And they’ve got the numbers to prove it. So far in 2011, the trio has closed 22 deals and counting. Collectively, those transactions top 2 million square feet.

In 2010, the industrial team completed 57 transactions totaling $58 million in volume and 3.4 million square feet.

Recent deals include M&F Business Credit Inc., Pacific Logistics Corp., Emergency Mobile Health Care, EmailWe Communications, Amateur Athletic Union and Tri-State Guardrail.

The secret to their success is each team member understands his designated role. Driscoll primarily handles the tenant representation, while Thomas focuses on acquisition disposition work.

“We all really like each other, we get along really well, we work well together and we’re always thinking about it, all the time,” Cates said. “Preston will work just as hard on a $3,000 commission deal as he would on a $30,000.”

Because most warehouses are identical, it’s crucial that Thomas – the group’s youngest member – understands the market and is creative in getting the buildings leased.

“Being younger, in my opinion, is a disadvantage in this business, because you’re always trying to prove,” Thomas said. “How I get around that is I’m out working, through market knowledge I know what I’m talking about, I know what rates are, I know what buildings are out on the market that are available or are not on the market that are going to be available.”

Thomas attributes the majority of his expertise from when he started five years ago – when he listened to every single conversation Cates had, whether it was a conference call, talking to an owner, or being out and about in the car together.

Cates, the team’s so-called “quarterback,” receives a lot of inquiries – from tenants, landlords, owners, asset managers – all of which create opportunities.

“We all take it very seriously and I think the people that we do work for, whether its tenants leasing space or disposition work, the owners recognize that,” Cates said.

The group has its own marketing consultant and does its research in-house. They mail out a quarterly newsletter to about 4,000 people and have a regularly updated blog (www.catesthomasdriscoll.com) full of Memphis market news, client testimonials and listings.

Driscoll has been responsible for the blog since its inception. He knew there was a wide audience out there waiting for a good story to be told.

“If we thought someone was going to look at our blog and pick up the phone and call us and say, ‘I need 1 million square feet,’ we’d be kidding ourselves,” he said. “But it’s also satisfying to work on a newsletter quarterly and then go to call on a client and see that newsletter on the desk – you know that they’re hopefully paying attention to what we’re doing and trying to do.”

While the idea to collaborate is gaining momentum, it wasn’t commonplace when Cates designed it in 2005. He studied the success of markets in Nashville, Indianapolis and Chicago, took it and ran with it.

“At the time I was starting it, my wife was pregnant, and (I saw) how these guys in other markets had really split up the responsibilities, served their clients really well, made good money in the process – and also spent a lot of time with their families, they weren’t glued to their desk,” Cates said.

And that family-first approach is the mission statement of the team’s playbook.

“We are focused on the ability to do a really good job for our customers and do a really good job at home. It’s really important to all three of us,” Cates said. “It’s the reasoning behind why we’re sitting here now, and all of the other factors and how you make it work, how you make it happen.”

MORTGAGES 54 374 1,120
BUILDING PERMITS 177 767 2,425