Commercial Real Estate

Meet the Finalists: Brokers From Marcus & Millichap, Binswanger, Colliers International, Transwestern, and Cushman & Wakefield

Five high-producing commercial real estate brokers share their insights on deal-making, lessons learned, and market rebounds.

At the end of this month, D CEO will announce the winners of its ninth annual Commercial Real Estate Awards program. Leading up to the big reveal, we’re featuring all 83 finalists (51 projects and deals and 32 professionals), one category at a time. Today, we’re sharing excerpts from interviews with the five Broker of the Year honorees. 

Adam Abushagur 

Marcus & Millichap 

WHY REAL ESTATE:The entrepreneurial environment of commercial real estate provides freedom to grow and a neverending learning experience. Every client and project are unique. which provides an extraordinarily unique thrill and challenge to attack every day. 

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT:I’ve always enjoyed problemsolving and seeing the puzzle come together. As a kid, I would dump the Lego pieces onto the ground, throw away the instructions, and attempt to solve the pieces together.” 

LESSON LEARNED:It’s a smaller world than you may think coming into the industry. Everyone knows everyone. Once you establish and maintain a great reputation, the business becomes easier. If you come into the business and tarnish your name or your brand, you’ll find your way out very quickly. 

2020 HIGHLIGHTS:Adjusting and adapting to market shifts during a global pandemic.  While 2020 came with many market setbacks, there was an opportunity to turn negatives into positives. Virtual tools became more widely accepted, and we were able to reach more people in a safe, timely manner—which meant more opportunities to help clients. 

LOOKING AHEAD: “Although we’ve come so far in a short amount of time, it is exciting to know that we are just getting started. There is a long journey ahead of us. 

Holmes Davis IV

Binswanger Co. 

WHY REAL ESTATE: “My father was a pioneer in the real estate business in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I grew up. He formally introduced me to the profession when I was 16, and I actually started coldcalling on companies throughout the state. Needless to say, I am grateful to him for that, as I was fortunate to find a passion for a career so early in life. 

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: “I enjoy 100 percent of it, but what I enjoy most  are the personal and business relationships that I have been able to develop over my 33 years in the business. Most everyone I have worked withfrom clients to developers to economic development officials to brokershave become some of my closest friends. 

LESSONS LEARNED: “Pick a career that you love, stay humble and grateful at all times, and never burn a bridge. 

2020 HIGHLIGHTS: “It’s hard to pinpoint one specific deal or transaction because any deal getting done in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic is obviously something to be proud of. Overall, I would say maintaining the focus in helping my clients achieve their ultimate goals during some of the most challenging times we will ever see in our lives has been very satisfying.” 

LOOKING AHEAD: “Besides the pandemic hopefully coming to an end soon, the most exciting thing about the future is that DallasFort Worth continues to be considered. It’s one of the top five markets in the world for corporate relocations, from corporate headquarters to manufacturing and distribution facilities. DFW also continues to see investor and developer interest. Given our location in the center of the U.S., multimodal transportation infrastructure, probusiness attitude, population growth, superior workforce, and overall costs of doing business, I firmly believe this growth trend will continue for many years to come. 

Allen Gump 

Colliers International 

WHY REAL ESTATE: “I always knew I wanted to be in sales like my dad. (I won the Christmas greenery sales contests as a Boy Scout and then started my own garbage bag sales business selling doortodoor as a kid; I also mowed yards for seven years.My father ran an insurance agency, and I worked with him for a few years. Not long after I came to work for his company, he and his partners decided to sell, and the bloom was off the rose. The family atmosphere went away, and it was a much bigger company. My brother and several friends of mine had gone into real estate after college, and it seemed to suit me better. I started in industrial in 1984 and have stayed with it ever since. 

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: “Getting to know so many different people in all walks of life. It’s gratifying to know you’re having a significant impact by finding them the right location for their business. It’s never boring; every day is different, and every day it’s talking to a lot of different people, from other brokers to business owners and employees. Additionally, my term as SIOR global president in 201516 gave me an incredible opportunity to travel all over the world. The number of wonderful people I met and consider good friends to this day I will cherish forever. 

LESSON LEARNED: “Nine years ago, my daughter Allyson came to work with me. I had been a broker at that point for 27 years, had a pretty good thing going, and never wanted a partner. Working with Allyson has changed my perspective on how I view the business we’re in and the people we do business with. I’ve learned when I listen to hera young woman’s thoughts and ideasit adds a new dimension to the conversation. I have come to respect her perspective on everything we do. Some things she’s better at than I am. It has injected a new sense of purpose into my career, getting to work with her every day. I believe it’s added another 10-15 years on to my career. It has also shown me that we need to bring more young women and people from all walks of life and diversity in our industry. 

2020 HIGHLIGHTS: “Several things come to mindAllyson and I served and continue to serve on the CCIM Board of Directors together; she was able to qualify for her SIOR designation based on her production in 2020, which makes me extremely happy; we were able to have a solid year by staying focused on our clients and their deals we were helping them with, and we’re hoping for an even better 2021; I am chair of the University Alliance for CCIM which allows me to work with dozens of college kids at five area universities. It has been such a great experience to interact with them. They are so smart and excited about real estate. 

LOOKING AHEAD: “In my work life, getting to work with Allyson is what I look forward to the most. On a personal level, it has to be Allyson having her 3rd baby this spring. It will be our fifth grandchild, which is stunning to me because I feel like the same street broker I was when I began my career in the early 1980s.”   

Duane Henley 

Transwestern 

WHY REAL ESTATE: “I had the good fortune to work for Xerox in sales and sales management after graduating from The University of Texas at Austin. Quite a few of the top producers had moved into the commercial real estate field, and they shared their experiences and success in the industry with me. I had a friend who was responsible for the leasing and management at One American Center, a high-rise spec building located in downtown Austin. I joined the team to complete the lease-up along with a few other assets. From there, I learned the opportunities were endless based on your personal efforts. 

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: “The opportunity to work with all the professionals in our business is a great pleasure. In our industry, we don’t make a product. Our knowledge is our offering. Because of this, the relationships we have and the way we treat clients and peers is paramount to achieving success. The people make it enjoyable for me. 

LESSON LEARNED: “In our business, activity breeds success. If you work everyday sourcing deals and staying connected with the brokerage community, your path to success is always achievable. 

2020 HIGHLIGHTS: “Last year was an extremely difficult year for our industry and presented a business climate I haven’t seen in more than 35 yearsStill, all of my clients kept a positive attitude and were all imaginative in negotiating deals, and never took a knee during the year. The ability to consummate the amount of deals we were able to, with the assistance of my clients in that kind of environment, makes me very proud.” 

LOOKING AHEAD: “I am most excited about what the future of Texas has to offer in our industry. We are poised for continued growth and success, and the ability to work in an environment like that is exciting. 

Matt Schendle 

Cushman & Wakefield 

WHY REAL ESTATE: “Real estate was supposed to be a stop-gap before heading off to law school, after which I was going to become a sports agent and the next Jerry McGuire. We had a family friend who owned some office buildings, and he was looking for someone to work with him on the leasing. I guess law school is always an option. I wonder if my dad would still pay for it.    

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: “I’ve made some really great friends along the way, from clients and brokers to tenants and vendors. 

LESSON LEARNED: Evolution! You’ve got to constantly be evolving, from the way business is done to promoting assets and portfolios. Things are much different than they were in 1997 (although I still have my pager just in case). I pride myself on always being on my toes and ready for the next challenge. 

2020 HIGHLIGHTS: “Last year was a challenging year for everyone. I believe our team did a good job of staying the course. The numbers weren’t where we wanted them to be, but we pushed through and made no excuses. It was a year that tested a lot of folks, and I’m proud of how we handled it. 

LOOKING AHEAD: “The youth movement. There are a lot of great people in this industry; several have helped me along the way. I’m excited about the next chapter and watching the 20- and 30somethings rise up and lead.      

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