Rector, Liles Take Over Cresa's Industrial Council at a Critical Time

This article originally appeared on CoStar News.

Steven Rector and Ted Liles have taken over Cresa’s industrial leadership council just as the coronavirus pandemic heightens awareness of the importance of supply chain management and logistics.

Earlier this year, Cresa appointed Rector, based in its Toronto office, and Liles in its Phoenix office, as co-chairs of the brokerage firm's industrial leadership council. Created about three years ago, the council helps direct Cresa's industrial real estate strategy as the sector grows at an incredible clip, thanks mostly to the increases in online ordering and e-commerce.

In the past four years, Cresa, which focuses solely on representing occupiers of space, has doubled the size of its global industrial team to more than 120 brokers in 38 locations. Revenue for the industrial team also grew as Cresa brokers worked with clients seeking distribution, logistics and warehouse space.

Rector and Liles, who both serve as principals of industrial services, will focus on ensuring continued growth for Cresa's industrial group.

"We'll try to take everything a couple of steps forward and grow headcount 2% to 3% per year," they said in an interview. "It's about taking baby steps."

The group also will focus on helping its clients navigate the industrial real estate world that has become much more expensive as giant companies such as Amazon, Home Depot and Kroger snap up new buildings.

“As the industrial sector expands from evolving and growing demand, one of the greatest challenges our clients face with high-growth models is space shortages and soaring rents," Rector said. "Some markets have risen as much as 20% year-over-year and are changing quarterly."

The new co-chairs spent their first two months establishing a more formal framework for the group that had grown quickly during an incredibly busy spell for commercial real estate. The group's initiatives include staying abreast of emerging industry trends, working together to pursue and celebrate major wins and increasing attendance by Cresa's industrial brokers on the council's regular calls.

Liles and Rector took the industrial council's leadership reins from Gary Gregg, Jeff Estep and Bradley Metzger, who led the group for the past two years. The leadership transfer occurred just as the world began to recognize how serious of a threat the coronavirus outbreak, now a pandemic, represented.

The pandemic has shined a spotlight on the importance of industrial real estate and logistics as people quarantine themselves at home and order food and supplies online and major retailers scramble to replenish hand sanitizer, toilet paper and groceries that sell out as soon as their stocked on shelves. Cresa works with large third- and fourth-party logistics providers and other major companies with large industrial footprints.

Rector said he is monitoring the coronavirus pandemic's impact on industrial real estate.

"We finally get a good grasp on how things are moving, and they throw in something like this to keep everyone on their toes," he said. "Everybody's just trying to get a sense of where everything's going right now."

He expects demand for industrial space among investors such as Blackstone, which made several major acquisitions in the past two years, and occupiers to remain strong throughout the year.

"Industrial is as sexy as it's ever been," Rector added.

The industrial leadership council is being supported by several Cresa brokers, including Jim Bob Taylor, Atlanta; Sean Heaton, Portland; Justin Walseth, San Diego; Will Condrey, Houston; Ed Lowenbaum, Chicago; Jeff Hartsook, Miami; Scott Dumler, Charlotte; Margo Mocarski, Philadelphia; Alison Scott, Corporate; and Destani Parker, Corporate.