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From Rising Star to Raising the Bar

David Perez • 3/3/2020
Q&A with Cushman & Wakefield Industrial Broker - David Perez.

David Perez

You joined Cushman & Wakefield in 2012 and were named one of the firm’s Industrial Rising Stars in 2015. Jump ahead five years and you are consistently a top producer in your region. Can you tell us a little bit about how your career has evolved over the years?
I have been very fortunate by a confluence of unique events: a great partnership that has allowed me to develop at a pace I couldn’t predict, continued emergence of Cushman & Wakefield as a top-tier global services provider, population growth in Central Florida, as well as the impact of eCommerce on supply chain and changing consumer service-level demands. When beginning in the industry you seek ways to differentiate yourself and once you find unique strengths, the goal then becomes to maximize opportunity. Now, I still practice a sort of “day one” philosophy and work to enhance our business in as many ways as possible, while continuing to seek opportunities to scale the business in a sustainable manner.

What made you decide to go into industrial commercial real estate?
I sought to integrate my experience within real estate and my finance background in a challenging job market. Fortunately, intuition drove me into industrial at a time when it was in the early stages of tailwinds generated by eCommerce, as well as evolving consumer trends. I feel lucky every day for the opportunity to have been in the right place at the right time.

Do you have a mentor? If so, who is it and what makes them great?
I have many people who have influenced me over my life, but if I had to name one it would be my business partner, Jared Bonshire. Everyone has a different strategy within this business, and what I would say makes Jared “great” would be the fact that he can see things from various perspectives simultaneously, which helps to find mutually agreeable solutions to even the most complex problems.

Is there a transaction you are most proud of in your career so far?
We sold a 175-acre site in Lakeland in 2018 on behalf of a financial institution, which was a highly complex multi-year assignment with many ups and downs. Parallel to executing the sale, the I-4 corridor was in the early stages of transition from a light industrial market to a bulk market, which has seen sustained growth. A buyer was selected and our team was retained to handle the leasing of a speculative state-of-the-art 713,000 sf building, which is expandable to over 1 msf, which we are approaching delivery on in the coming months with significant demand. This deal was rewarding for a few reasons:

  1. We were able to relieve a significant financial burden for the customer we were servicing on the disposition.
  2. A developer customer we had history with had faith in us, saw the potential in the deal, and was able to enter with a highly competitive basis relative to market. Thus, securing the vision we had for the site early on. This is now one of the largest speculative industrial projects in the history of Florida, and we firmly believe it will prove to be a tremendous success.
  3. It has provided a unique view into the demand for bulk inventory which exists along the I-4 corridor, which is invaluable for a variety of reasons. If nothing else, it has instilled a deeper confidence in the potential of the Central Florida market.

How do you handle work-life balance? Any tips?
I’m relatively unique in the fact I have no children (yet), have much of my family within the immediate area, and can basically envelope my work around my life. I’m very passionate about my career, so I have deliberately streamlined my work-life balance in order to never really feel like I am working. I have an office in my home, live within walking distance of the Orlando Cushman & Wakefield office, and am usually connected at some level. All of that said, I forcefully choose to disconnect for short periods to ensure things never become too overwhelming, and work to preserve a manageable flow. Everyone has a different routine and that is the strategy that has worked for me – although it may not be for everyone.

As far as tips, I think the single-biggest would be to travel as much as possible, as soon as possible. It is a big world out there and the perspective gained has greatly benefitted me in my personal and professional life. It is difficult to quantify the value of perspective and unique experiences, but both can be differentiators that help propel you over a lifetime. Particularly in industries involving significant social interaction.

What do you like most about working for Cushman & Wakefield?
My favorite part about working for Cushman & Wakefield is the great people. From the top down, there are top tier professionals that have afforded me with a culture and resources to perform – without them, my career would be in a very different place. This starts with my business partner and spans the local market leaders, national service line leaders, research/marketing, and fellow professionals across service lines. I have been a significant beneficiary of the talent of those around me.

Any advice for people who are new to the CRE industry?
A few things:

  • Create value and ask questions later - In entering the business people tend to focus on the financial benefit – though important, compensation is often commensurate to value-creation, which can be difficult to accomplish meaningfully in the early years. Be sensitive to the needs of others, find the unique strengths you possess and utilize them to create synergies amongst your team. If you can continue to develop those strengths, opportunities will come, and you will be rewarded.
  • Play the long-game from day one – This business requires a tremendous amount of vision, patience, and hard work. You must go in with the understanding you are not necessarily working for this year’s income, but rather your income over the coming five-year horizon. Plan strategically and stay patient through the ups and downs.
    Sacrifice your integrity for no one – It can take years to build a reputation, and merely moments to lose it. Your reputation is the most valuable asset within the industry. We work in a business of relationships and mutual trust built over a lifetime, so the more people in your corner, the further you can go.
  • Treat everyone as if they are important – Everyone deserves respect, so treat them as such. You never know whose life you can impact in a positive way, who may be watching, or the value of the future support.
  • Learn constantly – There is always somewhere to go when you need information. This can range from books, professional publications, peers, competitors, people you admire, superiors, friends, or even Google. By educating yourself as early as possible, the ability to create value can be greatly accelerated.