Bob has over 35 years’ experience in commercial real estate from developing small industrial buildings for sale and multi-tenant parks for lease to being a broker leasing and selling office and industrial properties in the North Orange County market. After 15 years at CB Richard Ellis he joined Lee & Associates in 1998 and has been a consistent Top producer. His community and civic involvement includes being president and board member of organizations such as the Rotary Club of Fullerton and the Executive Council of the College of Business at Cal State Fullerton.
LD: What career path did you want to take when you were in college?
BS: An unusual one of getting a degree in physiology and a masters degree in business. Commercial Real Estate wasn’t on my radar until my father came to me wondering if I would be willing to build a multi-tenant industrial project on some land he owned.
LD: What events in your career path brought you to your current position of President of Lee & Associates Orange?
BS: At a seminal event there was a manager I had great respect for at CB asking if I had ever considered being in management. He gave me the reasons he thought I would be good at it and it stuck with me. When the opportunity arose at Lee & Associates I had interest and was given the position.
LD: Can you tell us a little what your “average” week of work is like?
BS: There is really no average workweek. My week is a function of the demands of the office and my brokerage business since I’m a player/coach. My philosophy is my agents have priority and thus my door is always open as my work can wait.
LD: Can you give us a little insight into the Greater Orange Commercial Real Estate Market? What you are seeing in the overall supply/ demand of commercial real estate in these markets? Are you seeing business grow, space being absorbed? A shift of demand in asset classes? New Construction?
BS: As is the case in many markets our vacancy is at historically low levels across the board. Prices are up whether it is to lease or purchase so the desire is to represent product. New industrial construction in our market is limited to infill locations and large buildings are being built mostly for sale. Office construction has been more limited but the airport area has more product under construction than we’ve seen in years.
LD: Lee & Associates is a unique structure as its offices are independent, yet all connected allowing for each office to keep its own identity, while allowing each office to be part of a greater organization. Can you explain how this works and the benefits it brings to Lee & Associates Orange?
BS: The benefit plain and simple is ownership. 34 of our 41 agents are owners in my office. That makes for stability of the sales force, as there is little incentive to go to another firm, and stability from mergers or acquisitions. As you know a lot of that has been going on in commercial real estate, which can be confusing to owners and tenants in the market. Lee & Associates is still here and stronger than ever with over 55 offices across the country.
LD: What changes do see coming to Commercial Real Estate over the next five to ten years and what is Lee & Associates Orange doing to prepare for these changes?
BS: The big will get bigger through mergers and acquisitions. And to pump up their value they have expanded their service business for reliable income while discounting brokerage fees for representation sake. That gives Lee & Associates more room to operate where entrepreneurs exist, which is Lee’s bread and butter client. They like us because we’re grass roots and we can provide more personalized service because we make more off of every transaction.
LD: Everyone has a few transactions that stand out in the careers. What is one deal thus far in your career that stands out to you and what is the significance to that deal?
BS: A 15 year 205,000 square foot industrial lease. It stands out because it started as a 10,000 to 15,000 square foot requirement for a company I had done several transactions with in the past. They had always talked of eventually needing probably 85,000 square feet in my market at some point but this requirement just kept growing and growing. The icing on the cake is that the people at the company are good solid citizens. Although the requirement kept changing, as did the location they are an absolute pleasure to do business with.
This interview originally appeared in LDCRE Commercial Real Estate News.