Page 1


The American Dream Stories of determination and success

SkySong An exclusive on the iconic development © copyright MPmedia 2019

1 CEM-AZ.COM • ISSUE 3, 2019


© copyright MPmedia 2019

Save the Date

10•30•19 For the Fall Forum

At The Camby

Earlier start time this year!

2:15 p.m.

Panel to be announced at a later date Contact Karen for sponsorship opportunities


© copyright MPmedia 2019




Rock Star

Ashley Hoffman with Layton Construction is Commercial Executive Magazine’s first Rock Star.


Women in Power

In our annual Women in Power issue, read about five influential, bold and courageous women in commercial real estate.

38 SkySong

An exclusive on the collaboration between Plaza Companies and ASU.

The American Dream

Four professionals who overcame obstacles to build the incredible careers they have today.

20 Jerry Noble

This issue’s Broker of the Month takes the helm as market officer of DPC Companies’ Phoenix office.


Walker & Dunlop

Willy Walker, Jim Pierson and Keaton Merrell discuss what legacy means to them.


FOUNDER & PUBLISHER Mandy Purcell, MANAGING DIRECTOR Karen Gallagher, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Celina Busse, CREATIVE DIRECTOR Zane Bolen, SALES Karen Gallagher EDITORIAL Celina Busse, Tim Randall, Ralph Zubiate GRAPHIC DESIGN Zane Bolen PHOTOGRAPHY Zane Bolen ILLUSTRATION Zane Bolen

All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reprinted or reproduced without publisher’s permission. Opinions expressed are those of the authors or persons quoted and not necessarily those of CEM. 2920 East Camelback Road, #228 • Phoenix, AZ 85016 • 602-955-2899 •


© copyright MPmedia 2019

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. -Eleanor Roosevelt

Letter From The Publisher This issue of Commercial Executive Magazine features professionals in the industry who took initiative, visualized success and never gave up. Five powerful women in commercial real estate grace the cover for an inside look at their courageous leadership styles and bold strategies for advancing in the workplace. You won’t want to miss this year’s Women in Power on page 30. The American Dream on page 12 is a feature I feel a personal connection to. I came to the United States at age 7 after being adopted by an American family. Not knowing a word of English, I faced many challenges and adversities as a child that shaped me into the person I am today. The American Dream features four individuals in CRE who have overcome obstacles and persevered to build the incredible careers they have today. There is no doubt that this issue of CEM features fearless women in business. There are few people and projects in Arizona that gain national recognition, and one of those is Sharon Harper, president and CEO of Plaza Companies. Harper is an icon in the industry, a class-act leader in the community and an innovative mind when it comes to commercial real estate. Together, Plaza and Arizona State University have created a hub of culture and innovation with SkySong. Read about the partnership on page 42. Our Broker of the Month this issue is Jerry Noble with DPC Companies. He sat down with us at DPC’s newest retail redevelopment, B7|Block 7000. Read his feature on page 22 for a look into what DPC is working on in the Valley and what to expect with Noble at the helm of the Phoenix office. CEM introduces a new and ongoing feature this issue called Rock Star. Featuring professionals who are climbing mountains in the board room, this issue’s Rock Star is Ashley Hoffman with Layton Construction. Read about how she’s solidifying new opportunities for Layton on page 20. The CEM team is hard at work to bring our readers, clients and friends another successful Fall Forum event. Save the date for this year’s Fall Forum: Wednesday, October 30th at The Camby. After feedback from our attendees, we’ve moved the event to an earlier start time at 2:15 p.m. For sponsorship information, contact Karen Gallagher, Enjoy the issue,

Mandy Purcell © copyright MPmedia 2019

Founder & Publisher


r e h g Galla

KarenDirector | pmedia m @ n e r ka ecutive ercial Ex g to m m o C plannin parts of moving strategic elcomes y d n n a a m g e s th tisin nw s, adver ordinate py. Kare y day! Karen co She oversees sale ertisers are hap e ew ver e. adv ething n m o Magazin ’s readers and s s n r EM she lea ensure C ges and claims n e ll new cha



e s s u B Celinhaief | pmedia m @ a n li ce est CRE nd great ial a t s e t la e or ate on th each edit orial, s up to d nd coordinates r e e d a g e r in dit s regard eeps our anizes a Celina k Valley. She org lina for question and PDFs. es Ce the news in fection. Contact emorative plaqu r m e p m o o c t piece hasing t or purc copyrigh



n e l o B Zane r | pmedia zane@m ory to CEM st y r I e v e s ased RO ring , Zane b igns yield incre r n ig s e d sense of , his des design details o randing peccable b im in bout h d it n W estions a kgrou c u a q b y a n h a e life. Wit you hav lients. If contact Zane. c r u o r fo ase phy, ple photogra

ecto r i D e v i Creat


Š copyright MPmedia 2019


Build Your Outstanding Brand This service does not actually include alcohol. We are not responsible for the insanely fun things that might accure while working with us. Š copyright MPmedia 2019

MPmedia provides the best branding, marketing and content creation services to the commercial real estate industry.

602.955.2899 |


Last issue, we featured men’s socks and asked readers if they could guess which socks belonged to which broker. The task proved more challenging than we expected. This issue, we’re bringing readers what they asked for and putting shoes to the test! Did you know there is a surprising science and psychology behind women’s shoes? Stilettos, flats, slippers, sandals – no matter the shoe, it can transform a woman’s body language and attitude. When taking a closer look, the shoes we wear can reveal personality traits and information about the people who wear them. Who knew shoes could be so influential?

Cheri Brady First American Title

Lana Breen UMB Bank



WIN A HALF-PAGE AD! Commercial Executive Magazine is once again putting our readers to the test. The first person to email CEM ( the correct matchup of each shoe + CRE professional will receive a free half-page advertisement in the next issue.


© copyright MPmedia 2019

Lauren Anderson CBRE

Phyllis Dumond Stewart Title

Karen Halpert VEREIT, Inc.

Mandy Purcell CEM





© copyright MPmedia 2019



© copyright MPmedia 2019

© copyright MPmedia 2019




DREAM The American Dream is powered by ambition and the determination to succeed.

It’s the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born, can attain their own version of success. In the next few pages, read about the backgrounds and

experiences of four professionals in the Phoenix commercial real estate industry. Commercial Executive Magazine is honored to highlight their stories and

showcase not only the challenges but the grit and hard work they’ve put in to build the careers they have today.


© copyright MPmedia 2019

Hamid Panahi Š copyright MPmedia 2019

Horth Hong

Devpal Gupta

Gerda Kauks 13


amid Panahi, first vice president of investments, fled a war-stricken country as a child and persevered once he settled in America to build a successful 15-year career with Marcus & Millichap. Panahi graduated from Arizona State University, got into commercial real estate and has been exclusively with Marcus & Millichap for his entire career.

What’s your background?

I was born in Tehran, Iran, and left the country at the age of 8 with my family. We, like many other Persians during that time, were escaping a war-torn country. My parents, older brother and sister and I settled in Arizona.

How did you get into commercial real estate?

As I was finishing college, I happened to be working at a nightclub in Tempe. The owner of this nightclub was also a successful CRE broker and suggested that I interview with Marcus & Millichap. While it took several interviews to convince our then-regional manager Dave Wetta that I had the grit to become a successful agent, he eventually gave me a chance and hired me. For this, I am forever grateful to Dave.

What does ‘The American Dream’ mean to you? To me, the American Dream is the opportunity that a person has to become successful, even if they did not grow up privileged or in the societal majority. In America, freedom is afforded to all diverse citizens to pursue their career aspirations. By living in a society that rejects oppression and rewards hard work, all people, including myself, an Iranian-born American, are given the opportunity to thrive.

What are you grateful for?

My parents. They sacrificed everything by leaving behind a comfortable life they built in a country that they love, to come to America so that my siblings and I could be safe and avail ourselves of America’s life of opportunity. My parents have committed their lives to building this foundation for their family, including the future generations to come.

What is one life lesson you will never forget?

All decisions should be based in integrity. If you do the right thing and can be resilient through adversity, you will live a good life.

Do you have a family tradition?

Hamid Panahi First Vice President

14 14


Each year, my family celebrates Persian New Year at the start of spring. We use this holiday as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and engage in our culture’s practice of using symbolism to wish for health, love and good fortune in the upcoming year. © copyright MPmedia 2019


orth Hong, senior associate with NAI Horizon, specializes in retail shopping centers. Hong was a refugee from Cambodia before coming to America. She worked her way to the top of retail brokerage at NAI, starting as an assistant for a developer. She is celebrating 10 outstanding years with NAI Horizon.

What’s your background?

I was born in Cambodia during the civil war and fled the country on foot in 1980 with my family. We ended up in a refugee camp in Thailand. After four years, we were sponsored by a Lutheran church in Phoenix and arrived in the U.S. in 1985 as political refugees. I started school in third grade at 15 and spoke little to no English.

How did you get into commercial real estate?

My path to commercial real estate started when I worked for a developer named Irwin Pasternack. I was his personal assistant. Before long, I was showing properties. That helped me get my foot in the door, and I realized I wanted to be a CRE broker.

What does ‘The American Dream’ mean to you? For me, the American Dream was being able to immigrate to a country where I could feel safe, learn the language, work hard and provide for my family. I experienced the American Dream by going to school, making friends and looking after my family. Being able to accomplish this as a family was the true example of that dream.

What are you grateful for?

I’m most grateful for the people whom I’ve met along the way that gave me the opportunity to better myself and make a name in the commercial real estate industry. Ten years at NAI Horizon is more than just a number. It represents the mentors, co-workers and clients with whom I’ve established relationships. In this business, that’s what it’s all about.

What is one life lesson you will never forget?

Stay true to your culture. Moving to America as a teenager was a life-altering event. You tend to lose the memories from where you came. That’s why it was important to be surrounded by family. No matter how hard life can be at times, refuse to give up and embrace your family.

Do you have a family tradition?

We celebrate the Cambodian New Year, which is traditionally April 14-16.

Horth Hong Senior Associate NAI HORIZON

© copyright MPmedia 2019

15 15


evpal Gupta, executive director of tenant representation with Cushman & Wakefield, grew up in the second poorest country in the world before coming to the United States to finish college. Gupta has been with the same firm and specialty for the last 22 years, working his way from an associate right out of college to executive director.

What’s your background?

I was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. I am a practicing Sikh by religious denomination, and the religion and my family have taught me that the more good you put into the world, the more you get back. I lived in Tanzania through high school and was one of the youngest people to represent the country in cricket at the age of 15. I was fortunate enough to play cricket in England before spending a semester at Hofstra, and then finished my undergraduate studies at Arizona State University.

How did you get into commercial real estate?

I was recruited right out of college by a firm called Equis, a privately held boutique tenant rep firm headquartered in Chicago. The firm went through numerous sales in my tenure – UGL, DTZ, acquisition of Cassidy Turley and now Cushman & Wakefield. The journey has taken me from a small, privately held boutique firm to a now large, fullservice, publicly traded company.

What does ‘The American Dream’ mean to you? This really is a country of opportunity. I was born in the second poorest country in the world, where electricity and running water are sometimes considered luxuries. The American Dream to me embodies the fact that hard work will be rewarded. Nothing outworks hard work, and if you are willing to put in the hours, learn and continue learning, the opportunity to succeed is always right around the corner.

What are you grateful for?

I am grateful for the opportunities that Cushman & Wakefield has presented me with, but I am eternally grateful to my family, my parents, my wife, my two girls and the rest of my extended family. They keep me grounded and never let me get too far ahead of myself.

What is one life lesson you will never forget?

Devpal Gupta Executive Director

16 16


I was once told that the person who is pressing the elevator button going up is the same person pressing it while coming down. Treat everyone with respect and how you want to be treated. The simple things are what counts, say please and thank you, and this will get you further than you realize. © copyright MPmedia 2019


erda Kauks oversees marketing and client services for Colliers International’s Cooke Multifamily Investments team. Kauks has faced tragedy in her life and used the experience to reshape her perspective. In addition to working with the Cooke Team at Colliers, she recently launched her own marketing and graphic design business, G Disain.

What’s your background?

I was born and raised in Estonia, a small country in northern Europe with a population of 1.3 million. I grew up with my mother, father and older brother in a small town outside of the capital, Tallinn.

How did you get into commercial real estate?

I started my career in the hospitality industry in Seattle, then worked in residential real estate, before settling into my role at Colliers International Phoenix. Colliers had a marketing position for its multifamily team, and I wanted to learn a different side of real estate.

What does ‘The American Dream’ mean to you? It’s when determination meets opportunity. It’s the reason I moved to the U.S. at age 18 without knowing how to speak English. I realized in my early teens that living in Estonia’s countryside was not going to fulfill me. I believed that there had to be more to life; I had outgrown the small-town mentality. I did not expect any handouts and was willing to create opportunities by working hard. Growing up, my Dad fostered my competitive nature, teaching me how to set and attain goals. I knew I was a hard worker, passionate about learning and driven by change. In my view, the American Dream is being able to take these skills and achieve success.

What are you grateful for?

I’m grateful to my parents and how they prepared me to handle adversity, be courageous, independent and, most importantly, taught me common sense. I also want to state my gratitude to my employers and friends, Cindy Cooke and Brad Cooke. I’ve worked with them for almost five years, and throughout they have encouraged, supported and rewarded me. Their support has continued as I have accomplished a life goal of starting my own business.

What is one life lesson you will never forget?

To me, life is all about attitude and mindset. I have now lived in the U.S. half of my life. It’s been a journey, fueled by opportunities and shaped by ups and downs. My parents died a few years after I moved to the U.S. Their deaths were tremendous tragedies and were my biggest life lessons so far. My heart was shattered, yet their passing tested my strength and challenged my capacity to keep moving forward. © copyright MPmedia 2019

Gerda Kauks

Senior Client Services Coordinator COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL

17 17



Jim Pierson 602.926.7426


$28 B






Shannon Hersker

Keaton Merrell




602.926.7429 18

¹Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac respectively; Multifamily Lending – FY 2018, MAP Initial Endorsement © copyright MPmedia 2019 California loans will be made pursuant to Finance Lenders License #603H310 / DRE Broker #01982999.

Nick DeDona would like to thank all of his past and present clients for continued success in 2019! Nick has been specializing in retail leasing since 2012. His focus is: Restaurant and retail representation Retail project leasing and sales Formulation and execution of leasing strategies Providing up-to-date market information, lease rates and comps Targeted cold calling to find new tenants faster!

Increase NOI and prepare your property to sell. Call today for your custom real estate strategy:

Nick DeDona


3131 E Camelback Rd #340 | Phoenix, AZ 85016 | 602-957-9800 |

Š copyright MPmedia 2019


20 20

© copyright MPmedia 2019 © copyright MPmedia 2019

Ashley Hoffman

Business Development and Construction Services

LAYTON CONSTRUCTION Women make up just 9% of the workforce in the construction industry. Instead of swinging a hammer or laying concrete, Ashley Hoffman, director of business development at Layton Construction, uses her strengths in a different way. Hoffman works with employees, clients and subcontractors to take the company to a new level of success. “I have been a part of many unique and different opportunities within our company, from project pursuits, to organizing subcontractor outreach programs, to strategizing around ways to grow and maintain our business,” says Hoffman.

Family Ties

Hoffman knows she got to where she is because of her family. “My father was in the industry, and in high school I would work in the warehouse at his company packing and shipping parts for the commercial equipment they sold,” says Hoffman. “It was hard work and I thought I was not ‘gritty’ enough to work in the field, so I never thought it would be a long-term fit for me.” /// Fast forward to today, Hoffman has found a happy medium. “It is a business just as much about people and technology as it is about building an actual product. That is something that excited me about getting into this industry after college.”

Client Oriented

At Layton since March 2016, Hoffman takes her enthusiasm for construction right to the clients. “My role at Layton is to form and foster relationships with new and existing clients, subcontractors, employees and potential partners of Layton to ensure that they are given the best experience in working with our company,” says Hoffman. /// “I think my value is being the utility player, and in return I get the chance to be exposed to so many different aspects of the business.” © copyright MPmedia 2019 © copyright MPmedia 2019

Arizona’s Future

Looking ahead, Hoffman sees plenty of construction opportunities coming to Arizona, specifically Phoenix. /// “The last recession taught us a lot, and we have since grown from the shortcomings and mistakes of the past,” says Hoffman. “We are hopefully more conscious, thoughtful and sustainable with a ton of runway and potential to be one of the best cities in the country.”


Hoffman makes sure to make time for her other passion in life: her family. /// “I am most passionate about my family and the time we spend together. I love being a wife and a mom and these roles have been some of the most rewarding of my life,” says Hoffman. /// “Being a mother to one daughter (and soon to be two), it is important to lead by example, to teach them the value of a strong work ethic and to encourage them to reach their full potential.”

21 21

Broker of the Month Presented by Willmeng Construction

Jerry Noble Market Officer, DPC Companies

Jerry Noble was almost Dr. Jerry Noble, orthopedic specialist. “I finished Arizona State University with a science degree with intentions to go to medical school,” he says. “I had one class left to complete before being eligible to take the MCAT exams. I was fully convinced while in school that I would end up as an orthopedic doctor.” Over 20 years later, Noble, market officer at DPC Companies, Arizona, has no regrets about his decision to forego medicine for an opportunity to pursue a career in commercial real estate. “I had more than 30 friends entering or working in the industry,” he says. “Prior to graduation, I was offered and accepted an intern position at Grubb & Ellis in their research department working for Don Morrow and his team … and as they say, the rest is history. I never looked back.”

“We are excited to have Jerry on board to manage and expand our platform. His experience, knowledge and network will allow us to broaden our business and contribute meaningful projects to the city.” -Chris King

President and CEO, DPC Companies


© copyright MPmedia 2019


After two-plus decades as a successful broker in the Valley, Noble turned his attention toward DPC, a Denver-based, privately held company specializing in the acquisition and development of commercial property in Colorado, Arizona and the Rocky Mountain region. “DPC was an easy decision for me. I represented the firm for 10 years on projects such as Mesquite Corporate Center, Acacia Court and Biltmore Center,” he says. “I always appreciated their vision for repositioning assets, their ability to execute and experienced firsthand how good they are as an owner. When it came time for DPC to open their first market office outside of the corporate office in Denver, I was honored to be considered for the role.” © copyright MPmedia 2019


The stint at Grubb & Ellis served as a launching pad for Noble. His enthusiasm and energy for the business caught the attention of Mark Seale and Bill Dutton at Benchmark Realty Advisors. In 1997, Trammel Crow came calling, and in 2006 CBRE acquired the company. “All said, Trammell Crow and CBRE made up 18 years of my brokerage career,” he says. “In 2013, my team made the move to Cushman & Wakefield. I feel fortunate and can say that I worked with a great team and a great company, and that the business gave me a lot.”


With a footprint of holdings measuring 4 million square feet, DPC controls a premier mix of office, industrial and retail properties. “My role is to help manage asset responsibilities on the existing 1 million-square-foot portfolio in Phoenix, and to find value add and development opportunities in these sectors,” he says.


“My role is to help manage asset responsibilities on the existing 1 million-squarefoot portfolio in Phoenix, and to find value add and development opportunities in these sectors.” - Jerry Noble

Market Officer, DPC Companies

“We have several projects in the pipeline, including leases in our existing portfolio of projects, acquisition of new assets and two new development projects kicking off in 2019.” The roster of DPC’s positions includes notable properties: B7 | Block 7000, 3200 North Central, Hub 317 and Bell Plaza.


During his brokerage tenure as advisor to DPC, Noble worked closely with firm leadership. “The executive team at DPC have been there almost since the company’s inception,” he says. “Chris King is CEO and president of DPC and is very involved in all company projects including those in Phoenix. Along with Chris, we have Justin Lutgen, vice president; Tim Rose, executive vice president; and Tony Kill, vice president of development.” For Noble, the process of integrating with DPC team members has been smooth and efficient, given his extensive experience in representing their interests. “We have a great team in Denver, and many of them have serviced the Phoenix market,” he says. “The transition over the last three months has been seamless.”


© copyright MPmedia 2019

B7 | BLOCK 7000

One of the most interesting projects on Noble’s plate is the re-imagining of mixed-use property B7 |Block 7000 at the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard. Originally built in the early 1980s, the property lost luster amid competing high-profile designs. “As Scottsdale continued to grow and Kierland and Scottsdale Quarter came to be, this project fell to the wayside,” Noble says. “That said, Block 7000 has great bones. We are just now wrapping up the $14 million spent to reposition the property and will be breaking ground in a month on the new 10,000 square feet of retail fronting Shea Boulevard.” Consisting of approximately 150,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant capacity, DPC has brought a transformational vision to the endeavor. “Block 7000 has an incredible second level plaza that is unique to the property, and we have incorporated the feature into our creative workspace offering with roll-up doors, green space and outdoor furniture that is usable by all patrons,” he says. “When complete in the summer of 2019, this development will be a great win for Scottsdale by repositioning an underused infill location into a real creative office environment with retail offerings that will support the community.”


Married to wife Stacey for 10 years, the couple has two daughters, Noelle and Neely. “They are so cool and always ready to rock. My wife is my best friend and has been incredibly supportive through the ups and downs of this crazy business.”


DPC’s brand in the Phoenix metro is poised for robust expansion with Noble at the helm. “Our team will continue to evolve in Arizona as we support our growth,” he says. “We believe the Valley offers enormous opportunity for DPC in the coming years. We are fully invested in the future.”

© copyright MPmedia 2019



SkySong 5 THE NEWEST OFFICE BUILDING AT SKYSONG, THE ASU SCOTTSDALE INNOVATION CENTER The Southwest’s premier economic engine continues to grow! With more than 570,000 square feet of office already developed, leasing is underway for SkySong 5 at SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, which will be complete in July 2019. SkySong is already be home to a collection of innovative, entrepreneurial companies looking for the best commercial office space in the Valley. Great spaces are now available at the next stunning building at this dynamic project.

For more information, visit or contact: Andrew Cheney | Lee & Associates | 602.956.7777 | SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center is a public-private partnership between ASU University Realty, the City of Scottsdale, Plaza Companies and Holualoa Companies.

SkySong 4


© copyright MPmedia 2019

Office Painting Specialists


CONTACT US © copyright MPmedia 2019

623.850.0459 | |


Humphrey Shin

“At FirstBank, we are aggressive on pricing, but steadfast on our philosophy on structure, which has led to many successful outcomes all around.” - Humphrey Shin

Executive Vice President, FirstBank

28 28


umphrey Shin, executive vice president at FirstBank, is no stranger to hard work. Over his past 15 years with the company, (7 years in Colorado and 8 years in Phoenix), Shin helped FirstBank increase its asset size from $187 million to more than $890 million today. Shin also helped propel FirstBank to achieve a major milestone in Arizona: originating more than $1 billion in loans.


How did he get to where he is now? “It certainly didn’t happen overnight,” says Shin. “When I first came to Phoenix in 2011, I had to cold call my way into meetings.” /// Fast forward to Shin’s leadership role today, where he credits his accomplishments to FirstBank’s resources. “I work for a company that gives me infinite resources I need to be successful,” says Shin. “For example, we are going through a leadership program initiative throughout our entire organization (from CEO to our frontline staff). I was assigned an executive coach who worked with me on very

© copyright MPmedia 2019

specific areas that were identified through intense questionnaires and a peer-assessment evaluation process,” he says. In addition to the company’s resources, Shin also recognizes his team and those he works with on a daily basis. “I’m fortunate to work with extremely talented people who are much smarter than I am,” Shin adds amusingly. “I also have close mentors who have advised me throughout my career.”


With Arizona continuing to be an attractive market for investors, Shin admits that competition is fierce among lenders. “At FirstBank, we are aggressive on pricing, but steadfast on our philosophy on structure, which has led to many successful outcomes all around,” says Shin. /// Though the market is competitive, Shin says that hasn’t affected the amount of deals they’re closing. “We’re seeing a lot of movement in the industrial and office sectors. We’re also seeing retail trading at low cap rates. Class A multifamily is still going strong, but mainly in infill areas.”

FirstBank Strategy

When talking lending strategies and processes, Shin says the company factors in the standard 5 C’s of credit: character, capacity, condition, capital and collateral. “We always start with the sponsor,” adds Shin. “Does the sponsor display good character, is competent and honest? How invested are they (skin in the game) vs. how much investor funds are being used? We always underwrite and evaluate the individuals or sponsor first and go from there.”


Shin’s passion for his work and being a leader in the CRE community stems from his natural ability to build relationships. “The best part of my job is mentoring others and working with a group of gifted people. Many of my clients have turned into lifelong friends,” says Shin. /// With excellent job and population growth numbers fueling the local economy, Shin sees a strong, healthy and vibrant CRE market for Phoenix through the end of the year. His goals for the future certainly seem attainable. “My goal is to be a good father (someday), and to continue championing the FirstBank brand in Phoenix and beyond.”

© copyright MPmedia 2019

“I’m not afraid of hard work. When I first came to Phoenix, I had to cold call my way into meetings. It certainly didn’t happen overnight.” - Humphrey Shin

Executive Vice President, FirstBank

29 29

Women may not populate the commercial real estate industry to the degree that their male counterparts do; however, their accomplishments go far beyond gender. In our annual Women in Power feature, Commercial Executive Magazine is highlighting five women who are embracing every opportunity in the workplace and their fearless mindset when it comes to business. On the next few pages, read about their advice on advancing in their organizations, tried-and-true leadership strategies and how they achieve work-life balance. First Row (L to R): Amy Malloy, Jennifer Schrader Second Row (L to R): Kylie Fincham Cook, Grenee Celuch Third Row: Juanita Mebane


Š copyright MPmedia 2019

© copyright MPmedia 2019


Amy Malloy

Co-founder and Managing Principal, Evolve Ventures Amy Malloy, co-founder and managing principal of Evolve Ventures, founded the company earlier this year with Heather Personne. The female-owned real estate development and advisory group focuses on evolving its business to a more consumer-driven perspective. Prior to co-founding Evolve, Malloy was vice president of development for Pederson Group, senior development manager for Evergreen Devco Inc. and assistant vice president for Macerich. What impact do you hope to have as a woman in CRE? As a woman, I think we have a unique perspective and voice that we can share — one that’s resourceful, inclusive and resilient. Many times, it is reflective of what the industry needs to persevere through tough times and ride the waves through good ones. What was your biggest ‘A-ha’ moment? Early in my career, I had a leadership coach tell me that my supervisors perceived that my biggest obstacles to advancement were that I was young, a woman and enthusiastic. That’s when I realized that doing good, hard work and paying my dues was not going to be enough in this industry. I was also going to have to find a way to define it myself, to evolve it so that there would be a place for young female enthusiasts to be heard and to one day call the shots. I realized that I am the market I am trying to attract and that my voice is important, too.

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions in CRE? Stay hungry and humble. Quest for innovation and always remember what an honor it is to be in the industry. Don’t compromise. Be heard. Be active in groups like ULI, AZ CREW, Valley Partnership and AAED. Do the work and volunteer to serve on committees. The best network you can create is one built out of your good work. How do you achieve work-life balance? I don’t think I ever have balance, but perspective and selfawareness is always a goal. Exercise, wine, laughter and friendship keep me humble and grateful. Outside of work, what are your passions? Reading, running, traveling, laughing and just hanging around with my best friends in the whole world, my family — Brendan, Maddie and John Malloy.

32 32

© copyright MPmedia 2019

Juanita Mebane Operations Manager, CBRE

Juanita Mebane, operations manager at CBRE, landed at the company in 2004 when a temp agency placed her in an admin role with a six-month expiration date. Her employment status with CBRE quickly turned permanent when Mebane’s hard work caught the attention of a brokerage team. Over the next 10 years, Mebane was promoted to client services manager for the Phoenix market, responsible for managing, training and developing client services staff. She led the charge in transforming the client services role from an entry-level admin position to a vital part of a brokerage team’s success. Mebane’s success propelled her into her current role, where she oversees operations for Phoenix and Tucson, encompassing 500 employees. What impact do you hope to have as a woman in CRE? In my role, it’s not about how to compete with men, it’s about how to best work with them and build relationships on a foundation of mutual respect. This takes understanding where someone is coming from, staying true to what you know and having the courage to stand by your convictions. What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations? Knowledge is power. Learn your business — your niche — inside and out. There’s nothing more difficult than trying to argue a point or manage a project when you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know something, be honest and ask questions.

How do you achieve work-life balance? When the day is over, I like to work out, see friends or do something fun like go to the movies. I never let work consume me outside of work hours. I will address a situation if an urgent matter needs my attention, but otherwise, I think it’s important to shut off and take a break. Outside of work, what are your passions? Even though my days as a college basketball player and girls’ basketball coach are over, I still love playing the game. It’s my outlet, and I enjoy the competitive nature of the game. I also enjoy mentoring the younger generation of girls’ basketball coaches that I once coached myself. © copyright MPmedia 2019

33 33

Grenee Celuch Vice President, Concord General Contracting Inc.

Grenee Celuch, vice president of Concord General Contracting Inc., rose from marketing coordinator to marketing manager and then director of business development and marketing. She developed and implemented strategic plans that not only grew the firm but prepared it for the future. Celuch became a partner in 2012 and vice president in 2016. In 2018, Concord announced that Celuch would take the helm as the company’s first female CEO in January of 2020. What impact do you hope to have as a woman in CRE? I’m not out to necessarily impact the industry in any way as a woman, but I am out to prove that I work with and represent the best team in construction. We are unstoppable. We work toward our goals daily and represent our core values in everything we do. What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions in CRE? Find your leadership style, and once you know it, don’t waiver. I’ve been called everything from outspoken to direct in my approach, but that has benefitted me greatly because I’ve remained the same since day one.

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations? First, ask for what you want. Second, speak up. You got where you are because of what you can do. You have skills and ideas that need to be heard. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions, ever, regardless of who is in the room. There is nothing wrong with being outspoken and sharing your opinion. And third, set two personal and two professional goals each year. How do you achieve work-life balance? I don’t call it work-life balance, I call it work-life integration. I’ll be brutally honest. I don’t think there is a balance when you are a leader. It’s really learning how to integrate them so one doesn’t overtake the other. The secret is to take the break when you can and put in the long hours when necessary. If you hadn’t gone into this industry, which one would you have liked to be in? I would have been a pilot or flight attendant simply so I could always be flying somewhere new each day.

34 34

© copyright MPmedia 2019

Your formula for growth.

At MidFirst Bank, we’re committed to local business. Through personalized service and unparalleled expertise, we offer one-of-a-kind solutions that help businesses like yours thrive. Discover how our lending solutions can add up for you. 602.801.5000 |

Member FDIC

Š copyright MPmedia 2019


Jennifer Schrader President and COO, Caliber

Jennifer Schrader, president and COO of Caliber – The Wealth Development Company, cofounded the company a decade ago. Since then, Caliber has grown into a full-service real estate investment firm with a private equity portfolio valued at more than $400 million in assets under management across the Southwest. Under Schrader’s leadership, Caliber joined an elite group of private businesses on the Inc. 5000 Honor Roll, having made the list of fastest-growing companies in America five years in a row. What impact do you hope to have as a woman in CRE? Forget about gender. I’m a strong, intelligent real estate executive who happens to be female. While I’m often the only female at the board table, I’ve never once felt out of place, or even thought about my gender impacting my ability to have a voice at the table. I encourage women to stop focusing on being the female in the room and instead use their voice to confidently express their opinions and share knowledge. What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations? Never walk into a situation thinking that gender limits your role. Get out in the field, on the jobsite and ask lots of questions – it’s the only way to truly understand the foundation of the business and how the projects run. Because I’m a woman, people often assume I don’t understand construction, but I do. It’s because I’ve been hands-on with our projects and have taken the time to learn the ins and outs of my business.

How do you achieve work-life balance? There is no magic formula. I find it’s super important to maintain a healthy lifestyle – both physical and mental. Exercise, diet, mediation or any spiritual connection you can make helps achieve balance. Outside of work, what are your passions? Travel is my absolute favorite thing to do. It helps me reset and provides a fresh perspective on my business. I’m always going to be thinking about work; that’s just how I’m wired. While traveling, I find myself inspired by new landscapes, designs and cultures. I inevitably bring back ideas that get incorporated into Caliber projects.

36 36

© copyright MPmedia 2019

Kylie Fincham Cook Director, Thomas Title & Escrow

Kylie Fincham Cook, director of commercial services at Thomas Title & Escrow, grew up in the commercial real estate world as the daughter of a broker. After starting her career in residential, she moved to commercial and quickly found her passion. Cook is established in the CRE community and is an advocate for various real estate organizations, committees and boards. What impact do you hope to have as a woman in CRE? I want to continue to recruit and encourage young women to enter the industry early in their careers and not be intimidated. I have two daughters, and my hope is by the time they are looking for their first job, there are just as many women as men in the CRE world. Women have different perspectives and bring a personal side to the business that I feel make the industry stronger. What was your biggest ‘A-ha’ moment? The biggest “A-ha” moment in my career is when I came to the conclusion that most days, I don’t even feel like I’m working. This is when I realized I have found my passion, and that helps me persist even on the difficult days. I love people and learning about their stories. Every day, I’m creating new relationships and connecting with others.

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions in CRE? Have a positive attitude and be persistent. It goes a long way. Pick some mentors and role models in the industry. Take them to lunch and interview them on their successes and solicit their advice. Join the boards they are on and observe how they lead and what makes them successful. How do you achieve work-life balance? Prioritization and time management is key. Learn how to pick and choose what is most important to you because there are only 24 hours in the day. I’ve had to learn a difficult word over the years “no.” I want to be involved in everything and don’t want to miss out on things, but I’ve learned to pick and choose what to be involved in personally and professionally. If you hadn’t gone into this industry, which one would you have liked to be in? I would love Oprah’s job – interviewing people, learning their stories and finding ways to inspire others. I also would have loved to be a professional matchmaker. © copyright MPmedia 2019


The word “legacy” has a special meaning to Jim Pierson and Keaton Merrell, managing directors at Walker & Dunlop.

Jim Pierson and Keaton Merrell came together at Johnson Capital in 1999, becoming partners in 2005. By 2009, though, the commercial real estate industry had taken a dive, and both lost family members – Merrell’s father succumbed to cancer that March, and in July, Pierson’s daughter died of restrictive lung disease. They left and formed Legacy Capital Advisors in January 2010, invoking the name “legacy” for Pierson’s daughter and Merrell’s father.


Keaton Merrell Shannon Hersker Jim Pierson In June 2016, the partners were sought out by Walker & Dunlop. “We were being approached by national commercial real estate debt and equity platforms, and we decided that it was time to expand our offerings by joining a national firm,” says Pierson. © copyright MPmedia 2019

Ultimately, they decided it was a good move for them and their clients. “Looking back, it is the best decision we ever made as a partnership,” says Merrell. “The company culture at Walker & Dunlop is amazing and the people here are outstanding. It is a public company with the feel of a family business.” Looking to expand their team, they hired Shannon Hersker from Fidelity National Title in January of 2018. “We had followed Shannon’s career since she entered commercial real estate and were always very impressed by her professionalism, competitiveness, networking abilities and maturity,” says Pierson. “She is a great addition to our team and has a bright future in mortgage banking,” adds Merrell.

Walker & Dunlop has been riding the multifamily wave in the Valley, and Pierson and Merrell see the trend continuing. “Phoenix is one of the top multifamily markets in the country, which is supported by rent growth, stable occupancy and employment growth,” says Pierson. Merrell says he also sees growth in the office and industrial markets. “Phoenix also continues to benefit from the high cost of doing business and high taxes in California,” he says. Pierson is upbeat about the near future. “We predict that the Phoenix market will continue to lead the country in terms of population and employment growth, which will positively impact all areas of the commercial and residential markets,” he says.

“We couldn’t accomplish the great things we do and keep growing at this pace if it weren’t for great teams like Jim and Keaton. Since joining in 2016, their team has consistently earned muchdeserved industry awards and originated over $500 million in transaction volume – all with smiles on their faces.” - Willy Walker © copyright MPmedia 2019

Willy Walker, chairman and chief executive officer of Walker & Dunlop, has seen a lot of Southwest growth under his leadership—with more on the way. “Since our expansion to the Southwest in 2014, we’ve grown our annual originations from $11.3 billion to $25.3 billion, increased our annual revenues from $361 million to $725 million, and our adjusted EBITDA has jumped from $84 million to $220 million,” Walker says. He says he didn’t know much about CRE when he took over his father’s role in the company in 2003. “The last thing on my mind was legacy — all I really wanted to do was not screw up! But I also wanted to make my mark,” he says. “When I decided to join, I made a personal commitment that I’d grow and expand the company dramatically so I could see the impact I had on the organization.” What’s next for Walker & Dunlop? “We are always looking to expand and grow,” Walker says. “We have done eight acquisitions since 2009, and in the process have become experts in acquiring and integrating companies.” Walker credits the growth to his leadership strategy. “I love what I do, and I am fortunate to work with an incredible group of people who feel the same way about their jobs.”

39 39






Chandler Crossroads

Chandler Corporate Center IV

2900 S. Gilbert Road Chandler, AZ • 100,243 s.f. flex/industrial for sale or lease • Divisibility from 15,788 s.f. • 8.4 acres for sale or build-to-suit • Available now

4100 W. Galveston Street Chandler, AZ • 43,007 s.f. available for lease • Divisibility from 8,513 s.f. • Enterprise Holdings occupies half the building • 86,797 s.f. available for sale • Available now


E X C L U S I V E A G E NT Office:

James V. Camp

Mark Singerman, LEED AP

Senior Vice President and Regional Development Officer

Vice President Regional Director - Arizona



Phil Breidenbach, SIOR 602-222-5073

Industrial: Paul Sieczkowski, SIOR 602-222-5085

2390 E. Camelback Road, Rob Martensen, SIOR, CCIM Suite 100 Phoenix, AZ 85016 602-222-5082 602-222-5000© copyright MPmedia 2019



HUB 317

7OOO E Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ

317 S 48th St., Phoenix, AZ

Mixed Use Retail and Office Development 10,000SF Retail, 1,600-12,400SF Office Space Available

182,950SF Industrial/Warehouse Space Available



4907 W Bell Rd., Glendale, AZ

3200 N Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Mixed Use Retail and Office Center 1,200-6,900SF Office & Retail Space Available © copyright MPmedia 2019

830-15,400SF Office Space Available



SkySong SkySong 5 will open in the fall and represents a major milestone for the development. The building will bring the total project to more than 750,000 square feet of commercial office capacity. The cost of the building and the accompanying parking structure that will be built will exceed $45 million. In addition to SkySong 5, the new Element Hotel at SkySong on the Southwest corner is scheduled to open in June 2019.

42 42

Š copyright MPmedia 2019 Illustration of SkySong created by MPmedia’s in-house designer

A partnership between ASU and Plaza Companies creating a culture in our own backyard of imagination, innovation and vision. Transformational. No better word describes the innovation hub that is SkySong. “The Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center is a true public/private partnership at the highest level,” says Sethuraman Panchanathan (Panch), executive vice president of knowledge enterprise development and chief research and innovation officer at ASU. “SkySong exemplifies collaboration, creativity, imagination and the entrepreneurial mindset. There is nothing else like this dynamic place anywhere in the nation.”


In 2008 amid the tumult of the Great Recession, SkySong emerged on a 42-acre site at the corner of Scottsdale Road and McDowell Road. “Leaders from ASU, Plaza Companies, Holualoa Companies and the City of Scottsdale came together with a vision to create a vibrant economic, technology and innovation campus,” says Sharon Harper, president and CEO of Plaza Companies, the entity responsible for the master development of the project. “Over a decade ago, SkySong launched as two buildings, and now SkySong 5 and the Element Hotel open in the second and third quarter of this year. SkySong has superseded our expectations.”

© copyright MPmedia 2019



SkySong is unquestionably one of the Valley’s and the region’s prime assets. Upon completion, the mixed-use property consisting of Class A office, multifamily retail, hotel and culinary will encompass 1.2 million square feet. “After Building 5 opens, 750,000 square feet will be active,” says Harper. “SkySong 6 and 7 are in design phase and will complete the footprint.” The development accounts for $32 billion of economic value over a 30-year window, and houses over 50 companies ranging from Fortune 500 to startup ventures. “This is an enterprise platform designed to foster growth, knowledge, learning and productivity,” says Panch. “SkySong offers a model for the nation and the world through its ecosystem of collaboration between community stakeholders.”

1.2M $32B Square feet at SkySong

Estimated 30-year economic impact



Panch and Harper note that the SkySong model attracts considerable attention from leaders nationwide. “We have mayors, governors, business owners, academics and institutional executives tour the property to better understand why SkySong is so successful, and how they can replicate the architecture in their cities, states and organizations,” says Harper. “This is a template for the future,” says Panch. “The SkySong theme is ‘The Intersection of Innovation, Technology and Imagination.’”


People currently working at SkySong


Companies based at SkySong

The success of SkySong did not come easily in the years following the 2008 crisis. Commercial and residential real estate prices sank dramatically, liquidity and credit markets tightened massively, and economic confidence crumbled. Through it all, leadership remained committed to their vision. “There were obstacles for sure,” says Panch. “Yet, our team believed in the mantra that with every challenge there is an opportunity.”

It is not hyperbole to say that SkySong’s impact on the state has been nothing short of phenomenal. “The Greater Phoenix Economic Council is working on quantifying the transformation of an entire region, because of a single project,” says Harper. “The culture of creativity and ingenuity at SkySong emanates from ASU, which U.S. News & World Report ranked as the number one school for innovation in four consecutive years.”

One of those roadblocks was the South Scottsdale property. “Two previous development ideas in the late 1990s and early 2000s did not come to fruition,” says Harper. “Other firms could not make the site work, but we had a blueprint for the real estate that we trusted.”



Building 5 exceeds 150,000 square feet and the occupancy rate before completion approaches 75 percent. As for the Element Hotel, the Marriott brand debuts 157 rooms on approximately


100,000 square feet. “Both Building 5 and the Element will add more excitement and momentum to the SkySong story,” says Harper. “The property boasts phenomenal workplaces, robust amenities, entertainment options and an electric culture. SkySong is a magnet for companies and growth.”

The SkySong shade is one of the region’s most iconic structures, but more importantly it stands as a symbol of innovation, technology and imagination. “The shade captures the spirit of SkySong,” says Panch. “We want to always encourage prosperity and growth through visionary leadership, and commitment to strong and long-lasting partnerships.”

© copyright MPmedia 2019

“We have mayors, governors, business owners, academics and institutional executives tour the property to better understand why SkySong is so successful, and how they can replicate the architecture in their cities, states and organizations,” -

Sharon Harper President & CEO Plaza Companies

Sharon Harper & Sethuraman Panchanathan (Panch)

“SkySong offers a model for the nation and the world through its ecosystem of collaboration between community stakeholders.” Sethuraman Panchanathan (Panch)

Executive Vice President, ASU

SkySong 5 Rendering © copyright MPmedia 2019


De Rito Partners is Making Waves

“Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world,” according to the iconic Beach Boys tune. Marty De Rito, founder and CEO of De Rito Partners, has certainly navigated the waves with success since the company’s inception in 1992. “We have been a great surfer,” says De Rito. “We would not be good in this business if there were no waves. We ride the surf.”

46 46

© copyright MPmedia 2019 © copyright MPmedia 2019

© copyright MPmedia 2019 © copyright MPmedia 2019

47 47


Over its history, De Rito Partners has earned a sterling reputation as one of the region’s premier commercial real estate companies. The full-service firm provides service and product offerings in brokerage, development, acquisition and property management. “Our footprint includes the purchase of 46 retail properties and 23 groundup retail and auto park developments,” says De Rito. “We want to continue to position the company as one of Arizona’s dominant players in the retail space and auto parks.”


The De Rito retail brand can be found in communities across the Valley with a dazzling array of designs, properties and offerings. “Our objective is to line up the best of everything in the specific neighborhoods we serve,” he says. “That starts with securing the right anchor tenant for a property and then finding the correct mix of ‘valueadd’ tenants to the trade area.” Mesa Riverview, Chandler 202 Auto Park and Arcadia Fiesta are just a few of the high-profile properties in the De Rito portfolio over the years. Yet, the flagship position may very well be The Pavilions at Talking Stick. “In order to be successful in the retail sphere, you have to be a great operator,” he says. “As a company, we need to be right in the middle of the action, and at Pavilions, we are in the center of 1.3 million square feet with ± 100 tenants.”


E-commerce sales in 2018 accounted for 9.7% of total retail sales, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. And while the world of online transactions is steadily growing, the data point


reveals that 90% of sales still occur in the brick-and-mortar environment. “The traditional storefront will always exist, because we are social individuals, which is why you see standard and experiential retail doing so well,” says De Rito. “That said, the sector is always changing and with great velocity. It’s definitely not boring.”


De Rito sees the retail sphere benefiting from a robust economy and durable fundamentals. “The consumer is financially healthy, and that means they are spending,” he says. “Couple that strong demand with a tighter supply of properties, and the conditions are positive for strong growth.”


De Rito’s dedicated energy for the retail business can best be seen in his passion for development. “I absolutely love it,” he says. “The process is the most complicated and intense in commercial real estate.” Development, redevelopment and acquisitions will continue to be a key driver of company growth, although today’s economy and demand isn’t there for larger retail developments. However, De Rito sees opportunity across the firm’s lines of business. “As a company, we are blessed with talented people,” he says. “We are excited for the future of the business.”


With a powerful brand, access to capital and a bold vision, De Rito is optimistic about the company’s prospects. “We have all the pieces in place to remain one of the dominant players,” he says.

© copyright MPmedia 2019

L to R: Charles R. Carlise, Iver A. Bowden, Martin De Rito, Douglas R. Himmelberger, Cheryl R. Buchholtz

Certainly, those are some Good Vibrations! ©©copyright copyrightMPmedia MPmedia2019 2019



Layton Construction is a diverse group of women and men constructing vibrant commercial spaces across Arizona every day. We are committed to supporting our trade partners and suppliers as we continue to evolve as one of Arizona’s leading general contractors. 2355 E Camelback Rd | Suite 800 | Phoenix, AZ 85016 | (602) 840-8655 |


Š copyright MPmedia 2019









© copyright MPmedia 2019


Blake Curtis E M E R G I N G


Although young, Blake Curtis, director of capital markets & dispositions with SimonCRE, serves as a mentor for the younger talent within the company. Curtis not only looks for opportunities to improve at SimonCRE but helps foster opportunity for growth with other individuals within the industry and CRE community. How did you get into commercial real estate? Through high school and college, I caddied at PV Country Club. I had the opportunity to interface with the great movers and shakers here in the Valley. The relationships I developed during that time ultimately guided me toward the industry. By good fortune, I landed a summer internship with Cole and was elated to know my days of scrubbing clubs were over! What do you like most about your position at SimonCRE? I am proud to work for an organization that isn’t afraid to challenge conventional real estate wisdom. We approach things differently relative to the rest of the commercial real estate industry. In addition, SimonCRE boasts a national presence. With development projects in more than 20 states, I am transacting with a national audience. SimonCRE is retailcentric, which means the company constantly maintains a pulse on consumer preference. I like that my job gives me the ability to be at the forefront of paradigm shifts within the industry. In today’s capital markets, there is so much noise! We must continue to innovate and find new strategies to develop product to the marketplace. This in and of itself is a unique set of challenges that very few developers experience. How have you been a mentor to young talent? SimonCRE does a wonderful job of supporting the younger talent at the firm through our internship program. We all have different work styles, and it’s important to discover what works and (equally as important) what does not. This is how I learned, and I think it’s important I instill the same values in my mentees. During my time here, I’ve helped coach some of those individuals on how to land jobs upon graduation. I enjoy gaining perspective from my mentees and do this by making myself readily available. One of the more recent ventures I’ve created is a nonprofit called Pre-Con, designed to foster young talent. The goal of this venture is to empower young CRE professionals to lead the path forward within the retail industry. We have five SimonCRE professionals serving on the committee. Within the first year, the nonprofit gained support from 11 national sponsors and raised more than $17,000. Pre-Con is now a cohort comprised of more than 50 real estate professionals.


© copyright MPmedia 2019

© copyright MPmedia 2019


ICSC With Ed Beeh

Executive Vice President & Managing Principal SRS Real Estate Partners

54 54

© copyright MPmedia 2019 © copyright MPmedia 2019


nother RECon has come and gone. What is RECon anyway? RECon is the largest retail real estate convention in the world. It takes place every May in Las Vegas, and over 30,000 real estate developers, brokers, owners, retailers and vendors descend upon the Las Vegas Convention Center for three days of networking and deal-making. International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has a deep history that goes back to March 15, 1957. The organization was established by seven men who each contributed $500 with the intention of creating a shopping center trade association. Their first ICSC convention was held in New York City in February 1958 with 122 attendees. The convention traveled to various cities such as New Orleans and Toronto but settled in Las Vegas. In the spring of 1982, the convention celebrated its 25th anniversary by adapting to the leasing mall format we are familiar with today. This move consolidated deal-making activity under one roof at the Las Vegas Convention Center. By 2004, ICSC membership exceeded 54,000, and in 2006 the Spring Convention drew record-breaking attendance of over 48,000. In 2009, the Spring Convention was renamed “RECon” to distinguish itself from the many regional conventions. Through the ups and downs of the real estate market, ICSC has maintained a consistent membership and today boasts over 70,000 members. Takeaways from this year’s RECon: There is no retail apocalypse. We are just experiencing a major shift in how business is transacted. The rapid technological advances are forcing brick-and-mortar to adapt to E-commerce strategies. However, E-commerce is finding that it needs brick-and-mortar locations to advance growth. Retailers that do not adapt to this new way of thinking will go by the wayside. More closures are on the horizon, and landlords are trying to figure out how to position their centers to solve for the new paradigm. This paradigm involves creating new formats to satisfy consumers’ desire and demand for experience and convenience. Investors still value retail assets, especially in Phoenix and other West Coast markets. Healthcare tenants continue to become more attractive to landlords, and fitness clubs are becoming the #1 go-to use to backfill the vacant anchor spaces. I consider this year’s RECon a success. Attendance was consistent with prior years, the mood was positive and deals were being discussed. The big bonus for all attendees was the weather … possibly the coolest RECon I remember attending.

© copyright MPmedia 2019 © copyright MPmedia 2019

55 55

Transwestern MARK STRATZ & JIM FIJAN 56

© copyright MPmedia 2019

“A successful team is all about the people. Together, Mark and I are working to curate talent with a focus on a diverse set of competencies.” - Jim Fijan

Mark Stratz, managing director and Phoenix leader for Transwestern Commercial Services, is breaking the mold of conventional brokerage. Hired by Transwestern in January 2018, Stratz brings a modern direction to the global and privately held commercial real estate firm. “The team in Phoenix starts with we,” he says. “CRE has historically been a lone wolf business, but here our focus is developing Transwestern’s entrepreneurial culture by promoting team: engagement, trust, camaraderie and communication.”


Stratz spent his first six years at CBRE in Seattle, Washington, before deciding to pick up his life and move to Phoenix. “My wife and I had been to Phoenix once for a conference, but six months later we took a leap of faith and moved to the Valley,” he says. “For the next dozen years, I served as a director for Cushman & Wakefield.”


Transactions, price per square foot and deal flow. All are important for the success of the organization, but Stratz and his veteran colleague Jim Fijan know that the key to the brand’s growth trajectory depends on attracting premier professionals. “A successful team is all about the people,” says Fijan, executive managing partner. Fijan and his team joined Transwestern recently after a long successful career at CBRE and founding Fijan Advisors. “Together, Mark and I are working to curate talent with a focus on a diverse set of competencies. Partnering with Mark has been a great fit, as we assemble an effective and quality team.” And Stratz and Fijan are in no rush to ramp up their roster, opting instead for handpicked excellence, not volume. “We believe 25 will ultimately be the right number,” Fijan says. “We will have a great composition of youth and experience with a major focus on positive energy and collaboration.”


For Fijan and Stratz, pursuing top talent and fostering brand expansion meant securing a new location, which inspired dynamism, collaboration and creativity. “We needed a © copyright MPmedia 2019

participatory space that could speak to our team members and the community,” says Stratz. Once again taking a novel approach, Stratz signed a 9,000-square-foot lease on the ground floor of the Esplanade on Camelback. “Morton’s Steakhouse once occupied the space,” says Stratz. Vacant for over seven years, Stratz saw an opportunity in an urban setting to maximize Transwestern brand identity. “This is a high-visibility locale with a social/retail atmosphere,” Stratz says. “There is a vibe here, which will motivate our team members, and the outside patio will allow us to host client and networking events and invite guests to learn about Transwestern and our family of companies.”/// With Gensler handling the design and Layton Construction the renovation, Transwestern will claim a flagship property and location in the Camelback district. “We believe this space will differentiate our firm and create a ‘clubhouse’ feel for the team,” Stratz says. “From a recruitment and retention perspective, this office will deliver a personality of its own, further facilitating engagement and camaraderie for the brokers,” Fijan says.


Transwestern has two phenomenal leaders at the helm of the organization, and both have a strong desire to deliver a robust value proposition to clients. “Jim and I are passionate about mentoring and helping our team succeed,” Stratz says. “Mark and I are philosophically aligned,” says Fijan. “With his positive nature and competitive drive, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.”



© copyright MPmedia 2019

© copyright MPmedia 2019



© copyright MPmedia 2019

Profile for Commercial Executive Magazine

CEM3-19 Women in Power Issue  

In Commercial Executive Magazine’s annual Women in Power issue, five bold women grace the cover for an inside look at their courageous leade...

CEM3-19 Women in Power Issue  

In Commercial Executive Magazine’s annual Women in Power issue, five bold women grace the cover for an inside look at their courageous leade...

Profile for cem-az