How Cresa Houston's recent recruit plans to grow new industrial division

Will Condrey isn't the first person to leave a larger brokerage for a smaller one in order to make a bigger impact.

But starting a firm's industrial division from scratch? That's a whole different ball game.

"It’s definitely exciting and a little bit nerve racking … (there's) definitely a risk," Condrey said. "But, there’s already a lot of upside to the Houston market."

Last week, Condrey left Cushman and Wakefield and joined Cresa, where he'll be launching the firm's industrial division from the ground up. During his seven years at Cushman and Wakefield, Condrey worked alongside Cushman's prominent industrial team that included Jeff Peden and Scott Miller.

He has represented major industrial tenants including Silver Eagle Distributors, the nation’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributor, MetroBank NA, Composites One LLC and more. He executed roughly 1 million square feet in new leases and more than 270 land sales worth a collective $823 million, per a Cresa announcement.

Condrey spoke to the Houston Business Journal about his new role at Cresa, bringing on more executives and chasing industrial demand in Houston.

What led to the move? I wasn’t looking to move. It was more the fact that Andre (Granello, managing principal of Cresa's Houston office) talked to me, and after talking to him and meeting with (Cresa CEO) Jim Underhill, it was a deal I couldn't pass up. The opportunity to build an industrial team – and, ultimately, a department – was attractive.

Are you going to be bringing many clients over from Cushman and Wakefield, or are you starting from scratch? Primarily, I'll be starting from scratch. The land business doesn’t allow you to have clients, per se – it’s more transactional work. There are a few client relationships that I was able to maintain, but I left a lot of deals at Cushman and Wakefield that were Cushman and Wakefield-oriented clients.

How do you plan on growing Cresa's industrial division? It's going to be organic growth. We’re going to hire young and train. … Nationally, Cresa has built up its war chest, and we’re going to make some other big hires. …. But my focus will be on organic growth.

Can we expect to see more executive-level or senior vice president-level recruits joining Cresa? There'scertainly the capacity to do that, but we'll have to see. We’re looking for the right fit. We're talking to some high-level industrial brokers about coming over, but it depends.

Will you be growing the industrial practice through small acquisitions? Again, it depends. There are some smaller brokerages that are trending upward that we would have interest in (acquiring), and there are some other small shops that we have no desire to chase.

Where's demand for industrial space and land specifically concentrated?There's a lot of growth in the east market. There's a lot of demand for space there, but not a lot of vacancy. The northwest market has recovered, and we're starting to see more expansion in that market.

What can you tell us about the deals you're currently working on? We’re working on a couple of distribution center deals. Nationally, Cresa has secured some clients that need refrigerator warehouse space, so we’re beginning projects that involve finding cold storage, and I have a lot of experience in that regard. … There’s also the effort to grow the land business, and I’m working on a few deals in that regard. It’s all positive.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.