VOL. 8 | NO. 10 | Saturday, February 28, 2015
EMPHASIS Commercial Real Estate
Commercial Advisors Asset Services Sees Strong Growth
By Amos Maki
Kemp Conrad joined the asset services team at Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors in 2007 after CB Richard Ellis acquired his former employer, Trammel Crow Co.
Conrad thought there was room to expand the asset services team, the unit that handles management, leasing and construction management services for landlords.
“We had just started to grow that business at Trammel Crow and I just saw a tremendous opportunity to grow that service line,” said Conrad, principal with Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors and president of the company’s asset services line.
The asset services team certainly grew last year, when global industrial owner IDI decided to exit the management and leasing business after it was acquired by Brookfield Property Partners LP.
That move allowed Memphis-based Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors to win the third-party management and leasing of a 5 million-square-foot, 15-building portfolio formerly managed by IDI, including assets owned by USAA, GID and Space Center. The properties included Memphis Distribution Center, Century Center Business Park, buildings D and G in Chickasaw Distribution Center and Stateline Business Park.
Additionally, Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors was awarded two major leasing assignments for IDI in the white-hot DeSoto County submarket - building B in Stateline in Southaven and building G in Crossroads Distribution Center in Olive Branch.
These wins brought the asset services unit’s managed and leased portfolio to more than 32 million square feet, up a whopping 540 percent from 3 million square feet in 2007.
“We’ve been steadily adding stock but that was a big takedown,” said Conrad. “It was an unusual opportunity and one we were fortunate enough to take advantage of.”
On the deal involving IDI’s third-party leasing and management business, Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors had what amounted to a secret weapon: former IDI employees Lauren McCown and Mary Leesa Simmons.
“I had several options but Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors ran their business the way I ran mine – they put a lot of emphasis on customer service and everything is very hands on – so it was a great fit for me and it was a great fit for our clients,” said Simmons, who had been with IDI since 1989 and helped manage about 13 million square feet of space in Memphis, Nashville and DeSoto County. “The tenants didn’t even notice a change and that’s great for all the parties involved.”
Conrad said Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors first had to be in position to fight for the type of business IDI was spinning off and then be able to execute once it reeled it in.
“I think good luck is the residue of hard work,” said Conrad, who has completed transactions in 35 states and 19 countries. “We work hard on establishing and promoting our culture and how we serve our clients. We have a service mentality in everything we do.”
Since Conrad came aboard in 2007, asset services has increased gross revenue by 472 percent and net income has increased by 843 percent.
That growth and the size of the company’s portfolio means it can realize significant cost efficiencies, which trickle down to customers.
“When you manage over $1 billion of real estate you’re able to leverage your spend as it relates to vendors, roofing, landscaping, security, any service a building may need.”