Friday, April 17, 2020

Bright Spots in a Dark Commercial Real Estate World

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Those of you who know me realize I’m a “half full” guy - an optimist. After all, commercial real estate brokerage requires us to be upbeat. Transactions can be clipping along nicely when something unforeseen derails them. Needed to return deals to the track is a belief things will work out for the best through a solid resolve and problem solving attitude.

Frankly, I was a bit down last month when our world morphed into the reality of Covid-19 quarantines, a precipitous drop in business, working remotely, and staff furloughs. We were bombarded every day with a torrent of terrible tales, increased body counts, and venue closures. I had to turn off the news, pull myself up, and return to my daily routine of advising commercial real estate owners and occupants. By what should I say to them - amidst the uncertainty?

Well. As thin as these words appear - we are all in this together. No one’s to blame. In order to survive we must cooperate. Communication is key. Our clients want solutions. Thus, I pivoted into a resource. Developed were talking points to discuss rent forgiveness. Strategies were outlined to request mortgage relief. Numerous webinars educated me on the CARES Act. Attended were ZOOM calls with strategic partners such as wealth managers, bankers, commercial insurance brokers, mergers and acquisitions, accounting, human resources, and legal professionals. What developed was a nice list of assistance I could provide. So I started dialing the phone.

As the completed dials compounded - what I didn’t anticipate were the bright spots in an otherwise dark world. Indulge me while I share a few.

One of my clients applies adhesives to rolls of tape. His business is booming! Why? Admittance wrist bands to hospitals are supplied by his main customer.

Aerospace tooling operations are bustling. Military airplanes are still flying. Parts are replaced. Plus, many make ventilator components.

Received yesterday was a request from one of my colleagues. A company has countless drums of hand sanitizer scattered across the nation. Needed was a plastic bottle manufacturer who could blow mold the bottles and fill them - immediately. Speaking of sanitizer. How about my client who builds the metal bases on which the sanitizing stations rest. Yep. Crushing it!

You’d believe pool chemicals might be a bit of a luxury. Not so! Pools must be kept clean and germ free lest the bad virus starts to grow. My supplier of pool chemicals has benefitted from a pop in sales.

Construction crosses many subsets of industrial occupants. All are essential to keep the infrastructure humming - heating, cooling, electricity, roofs and the like.

As our society adjusts to on-line ordering and home delivery - operations such as e-commerce, transportation, and maintenance of vehicles are slammed. Empty store shelves require replenishment. Anyone along the supply chain - manufacturers of toilet paper, warehousers, truckers, and grocery store personnel are working non-stop.

Akin to the aftermath of those devastating brush fires which blacken the landscape - green shoots of do appear.

Stay well, dear readers! This too shall pass and we will be stronger and better as a result.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104. His website is

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