Perspectives

Preparing for Change

Ashley Powell

AT BENTALL KENNEDY, we are focused on the themes I have written about this year: millennials, sustainability and thoughtful preparation for success regardless of where we are in the real estate cycle. We invest heavily on behalf of our clients with leading developers to build environmentally and financially sustainable office, industrial, multifamily and retail projects in key markets with highly educated and innovative labor forces.

As we edge closer to the end of the year, and the end of my term as chairman, I’d like to share some thoughts on how best to strategize and prepare for the next cycle.

Change is inevitable. To stay ahead of the pack, we commercial real estate professionals must quicken our speed of adaptation. NAIOP is steadfast in its commitment to prepare us for the future with its three pillars of membership — education, advocacy and connections — that allow us to capitalize on today’s market, prosper through any future downturn and accelerate into the next cycle.

NAIOP education — whether it’s a conference, online course, on-demand offering or chapter program — fuels exciting discussions and creative solutions that keep us on the cutting edge. The U.S. will elect a new president this fall, and new policymakers will be arriving on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the nation. They may attempt to change the rules by which the “game” of real estate is played, and NAIOP’s legislative staff will provide a consistent and effective voice to protect our interests. Meeting industry leaders at NAIOP events and forming relationships through our National Forums connect us to the people and ideas that will propel us forward.

Change demands preparation. Paul William “Bear” Bryant, legendary football coach and player, once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters — everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

Some of the tactical moves I see industry leaders implementing to best position themselves and their companies for the market’s next phase include:

1) Putting a padlock on income by extending leases and/or accepting a lower rental rate to fill vacancies in exchange for term and credit.
2) Avoiding new acquisitions where the leases will roll in the near to medium term (three to five years).
3) Pruning assets that will be difficult to lease when demand slows down.

Change demands the best people. As I have visited chapters across North America this year, I’ve been impressed by the caliber of people NAIOP attracts. Many own their own companies. Many are leaders transforming their communities. In particular, it is the Developing Leaders, those age 35 and under, who distinguish NAIOP from competing organizations. Developing Leaders comprise nearly one-third of all NAIOP members and are stepping up to the leadership bench by serving as chapter presidents or as leaders of critical chapter committees. As I’ve discussed in this space before, millennials are the largest demographic in the workforce and continue to influence space design, location and amenities. Their voice in association leadership is growing, and their fresh perspectives are valuable as NAIOP prepares us for change.

I hope NAIOP can be the match that lights a flash of inspiration in your mind and makes you better at what you do. I look forward to seeing you in Scottsdale, September 26-28, for the Commercial Real Estate Conference 2016, and in Los Angeles, November 1-2, for an in-depth look at the office sector at O.CON ‘16: The Office Conference.

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