Friday, November 13, 2020

Location Advice for Transitioning Companies

Recently, I described several changes that occur during the life of a family operated business - specifically, manufacturing and logistics interests. These outfits are owned by your neighbors next door and employ millions around the United States. To review - a transition could be; acquiring a competitor, the death of a matriarch, exponential growth, loss of a key customer, sale of the operating unit via stock or asset purchase, or a move out-of-state. Sadly, it could also be the end of the road because of a changing market.

 This week alone - I met with three such companies. Yep! All experiencing a change. Below is the commercial real estate advice I gave them. You see - whenever a transition occurs - a commercial real estate requirement soon follows.

 Better returns out-of-state. In 2014 a family owned aerospace tooling entity was sold and the real estate that housed the company retained. A couple of years later, it was time to sell the buildings. Concern was - the new owner of the business ran the day-to-day differently. Could the rent be replaced if the group bolted? Sale of the real estate and the purchase of three investments through a tax deferred exchange quickly followed. Then, as 2020 dawned, a decision to sell was made on one of three 2016 buys. After all, activity was robust, pricing was at an all time high, and belief was - higher returns and reduced taxes could be garnered out of California. Meanwhile, all of the partners had vacated the Golden State. In addition, there was uncertainty with near term roll over of half the tenancy. And if that wasn’t enough - after launching in February and just in time to receive a great offer - the Novel Coronavirus ravaged the national economy! The buyer paused and then cancelled. After the buyer exited - due to the uncertainty - guidance was sought on which direction was best. We were able to provide clarity, create best in class collateral, and re-launch the offering. Closing happened on time! The net proceeds of the sale allowed a 1031 tax deferred exchange into properties in tax friendly states and with a greater overall return and reduction of risk. The last of the four upleg purchases closed this week.

 Structuring for the future. Maybe one of my favorite stories of owner occupied commercial real estate enjoyed a new chapter this week. Two of my dear manufacturing clients purchased their business home in 1995. In the ensuing twenty-five years exponential appreciation has occurred. By their admission - the address is worth three times the value of the business it houses. Finally, a suitor for the company has gained favor. A sale of the assets may occur soon. The terms and conditions of the leaseback are critical. Potential investors for their real estate holdings will look at the lease rate in comparison to market, the length of the lease, and the maintenance expected of the owner. Even if there is no interest in spinning the parcel today - these issues need discussion.

 Everyone is agreeable - until they aren’t. One of my clients was approached by his neighbor. They struck a handshake deal. Unfortunately - the agreed upon rate, term of lease, and extension rights don’t provide my client with a lot of latitude. He’s bound to dealing with the expanding neighbor if he wants or has to sell - at a pre-determined price and time.

 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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