Exclusive: Cresa Expands Industrial Team in Houston

Between demand for industrial product from the revitalization of the oil and gas industry, the development of the logistics industry as e-commerce explodes, and the strength of Port Houston, Cresa saw an opportunity.

The tenant representation-only firm has relaunched its industrial team based in Houston and has added five employees this year, including poaching principal Will Condrey, a real estate heavyweight formerly of Cushman & Wakefield. Now the industrial team is on a path to triple its revenue in short order.

In April, the company hired Condrey and adviser Gary Truver Jr. to relaunch Cresa's industrial division, which was dissolved after Cresa acquired Gibson & Granello in 2011.

Condrey said he set out to build an industrial team that connected a younger generation with experienced real estate veterans. He handpicked Kayla Black and Ben Sample as advisers and Tim Thomas as vice president in the past few weeks.

“Kayla and Ben are much more attuned to the purchasing habits of Generation X and Y2Kers," Condrey said. "The effect that e-commerce has had on the industry market is immense. They provide insight on that regard. That coupled by the real estate know-how of the senior guys creates an effective team for our clients.”

One of those senior guys is Thomas, with more than 20 years of experience, including a decade at Cushman & Wakefield, who has completed more than 250 transactions totaling more than 20,000 acres and 1M SF.

One of the biggest deals of his career was the sale of Cedar Crossing Industrial Park, now called Cedar Port Industrial Park. Thomas and his team won the 2014 NAIOP Industrial Deal of the Year for the 11,000-acre transaction.  

“I feel strongly that Cresa’s tenant-only platform and in-house resources will enable me to even better service my clients and help expand my client base,” Thomas said. “Cresa is focused on continuing to grow globally and I am excited to be a part of that growth here in Houston.”

Also previously of Cushman & Wakefield on the landlord representative side, Black brings more than four years of experience and will focus on transaction management and business development in her new role.

Unlike his counterparts, Sample doesn't come from real estate but the oil and gas industry. He worked in sales and client relations for Cameron, a Schlumberger company.

Condrey said he believes Sample's background in the energy sector will provide a unique insight into the many drivers affecting oil and oilfield services companies today, especially in Houston — the energy capital of the world. In his new role, Sample will focus transactions management and business development.

With the core team assembled and the possibility of adding more professionals in the future, Condrey is creating a three-year strategic plan to double or triple the department's revenue.

Cresa needed to relaunch and expand its industrial team to better serve its national and international clients with manufacturing and distribution needs, Condrey said.

The department's goal is to help clients minimize occupancy cost in a rising rate environment through a variety of services. Beyond leasing representation, the firm can perform lease audits, occupancy cost analysis, financial analysis and business intelligence reports.

Condrey also addressed a need to invest in market analysis tools and learn to cultivate live data to benefit its clients.

“We think our experience coupled with our superior market knowledge and real estate expertise, we will be able to significantly increase the industrial market share," he said.

The industrial team is looking to close four or five deals before the end of the year.  That may be tricky — while demand for land within the city's core remains on fire, it has become increasingly scarce and too expensive for industrial development.

“By in large, we always thought of Houston as a non-land constraint market, and we are finding that not to be the case," Condrey said. "There is a shortage of developable land for development, particularly within a certain drive time or mileage radius of the two major ports."   

To capitalize on demand, areas like Northwest Houston and the suburbs along Grand Parkway are introducing new land plays for industrial developers and investors.

The Katy submarket has grown in the number of manufacturing and distribution buildings. Baytown and Chamber County are also picking up in industrial demand thanks to the reduced tax rates, lower cost of living and shorter permitting times, Condrey said.

“There is now infrastructure where there is available land that can support industrial use," he said.