This SIOR Pulse blog series connects with SIOR members across the globe to discuss business and market conditions, while discovering the current events and issues impacting their daily lives.
In this edition, we speak with Rob Glaser, SIOR, principal of industrial properties at Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services in Tuscon, Ariz. With a recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the state, Rob shares some thoughts on the market and conditions in his area.
SIOR: Right this very minute, where are you working? And who or what (i.e. a pet perhaps) dictates your current work location?
Rob Glaser, SIOR: I’m working from my office in Lake Tahoe. The weather in Tucson [102-108 degrees] helps me decide where I want to work from this time of year. In Tahoe it’s a splendid 72 degrees. It’s also easier to social distance in the Tahoe area.
SIOR: What one change has been the most difficult to confront as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
RG: Personally, I’ve been very intentional about wanting to slow down a bit, only working with clients and projects that are substantial, collaborative, and that I enjoy working with. With the onset of the pandemic, I had different ideas of what I would be working on. Now I’m putting whatever I have to into completing leases that are six months to a year. Not exactly what I had in mind.
SIOR: What strategies have you used to cope with remote work and the current state of affairs?
RG: I’m finding it more important than ever to take care of myself and find time to exercise. In some of the community work I do, I’m reminded of how fortunate I am and this helps me gain perspective.
SIOR: What community work are you currently doing and why is it so rewarding to you?
RG: For the past 11 years I’ve been a Board member of a workforce development agency, JobPath. Our mission is to assist those in poverty pursue an advanced degree [usually first in family to do so], graduate, and find a job paying a living wage. It’s been inspiring seeing these efforts help 130 people graduate and elevate their lives.
SIOR: How is your company encouraging collaboration and unity during these times?
RG: We have a weekly zoom call for each of the divisions to check in with each other. We have partner zoom meetings once a week and we have the entire company meet around the virtual watercooler just to see each other. Otherwise we emphasize that in uncertain times, it is more critical than ever to reach out to clients and see how they are doing.
SIOR: Have any areas of your business come to a standstill?
RG: In April it seemed like all industrial activity had come to a standstill but since then it has been picking up momentum with each passing week.
SIOR: Are there areas of your business that are still going strong? What deals have you managed to continue to push through, if any?
RG: Multi-Tenant Flex Lease activity is currently and surprisingly strong. Still most of these are more tentative in nature with shorter lease terms.
SIOR: What changes are you seeing in your market that you expect will remain after the pandemic subsides?
RG: I think more brokers will be working from home. E-commerce platforms are accelerating which should lead to more absorption of industrial space. Telemedicine may become more popular. My dog thinks he’s part of our brokerage team and I think that will continue.
SIOR: What is your confidence level in your industry and what most keeps you up at night?
RG: I am very confident that when a vaccine is found and the broad population can be vaccinated, that industrial real estate will be one of, if not the top commercial assets moving forward. What keeps me up at night is when will that be.
SIOR: What do you predict reopening businesses and workplaces to look like and what needs to happen—or what is currently happening—to facilitate that in your area?
RG: Businesses are reopening in our area with varying degrees of caution and results. It’s not unusual to see bars and restaurants with young and older patrons without masks nor concern for the spreading of the virus. Our office has opened with a number of protocols in place and many agents and employees are still choosing to work remotely. So it’s a mixed bag.
SIOR: Prior to COVID, how was the market in your area?
RG: The industrial market was strong, with a 5.2% vacancy and strong economic development activity on all levels.
SIOR: How do you expect the market to look two months from now? Six months from now?
RG: Don’t know and don’t know. Until a vaccine is developed or rampant testing, I think there will be a high degree of caution, commitments will be tentative [shorter lease terms], and generally less activity.
SIOR: Are there any changes you’ve implemented that you personally hope will continue?
RG: For me it is more important than ever that the relationships that I have or pursue are collaborative, financially worthwhile, and with sophisticated people I enjoy being around.
SIOR: What has been your biggest takeaway from all of this? What’s the one thing you have learned that has impacted you the most?
RG: How important the health of the people I care about is, that I take care of myself, and my strong desire outside of work to help those in need.
SIOR: If you could go back in time one year, what is one thing you would tell yourself to best prepare for this upcoming year?
RG: This may be more of something I try to remind myself of frequently: life is tentative, my visit here on Earth is short, so make it count, love deeply, compassionately, and attend as many SIOR conferences as possible!
Rob Glaser, SIOR, is principal of industrial properties at Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services. He has been a member of SIOR since 1990 and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.