Friday, June 10, 2022

Memorial Day Memories

Most of you are reading this on the day before Memorial Day. A day set aside to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Freedom to live in a great country with infinite opportunities to worship, work, and live without the threat of an oppressive government. For those - we give thanks. For others who’ve lost loved ones in this struggle, our heartfelt condolences. Today, I’d like to share with you some folks who’ve been instrumental in my commercial real estate career who sadly are no longer with us. To my knowledge, none served our country but are fondly remembered nevertheless.
Bill Lee. Bill left this world on April 5, 2021 surrounded by friends and loved ones. I wrote a column in this space about Bill’s life and impact on Commercial Real Estate. If you like, you can read it here - Location Advice - California Businesses: How to Become a Commercial Real Estate Legend? Simple! R.I.P. Bill Lee. Bill’s enthusiasm was contagious. I adored him the moment we met. His wheels were always turning and you’d sense it when you spoke to him. Always open to new ideas and keenly aware of opportunities - times with Bill were memorable. However, Bill was chronically late. I finally learned to tell Bill a meeting was thirty minutes before it’s actual commencement so that he’d show up on time. Fashionably late indeed! Because, I could never count on his punctuality - I was acutely aware of my meeting preparation. Thus, I was less reliant upon his presence. Maybe that was his intention all along - to train me to be prepared. Also gleaned was the importance of cooperation with your competitors. Please don’t misunderstand. Bill wanted to beat them for assignments but once the client decided - cooperation was tantamount.
My paternal grandfather, Sam Buchanan Sr. I had the privilege of knowing Samuel Abraham Buchanan, Sr. until his death on March 30, 1975. He was 71. I thought he was an old man. Now that I’m 65, I’ve revised my definition of old. Grandad founded the Buchanan Bottling Company in 1930. Texarkana, Texas was his location of choice. Relocated we’re his wife and two small boys and their new lives began. I marvel at his grit. To take a risk at that time - the Great Depression was in full swing and a World War was a decade away - form a business, move his family on hope and prayer was remarkable. Observing the joys and struggles our family business experienced prepared me well for a career advising family owned and operated manufacturing companies on their real estate decisions.
My father Sam Buchanan Jr. As many father son relationships can be - ours was strained at times. I spent far too much time concerned about his opinion of me. Shortly after he died on July 4, 2020 - I penned this final momento. “Dad, as an adult, I’ve been the best I could be. I celebrated forty years of marriage with the love of my life, raised three amazing college grads, have been blessed with five beautiful grands, live debt free, don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, have achieved success within one of the toughest industries in one of the most competitive markets, have a great relationship with all of our family and enjoy a strong faith in God.” I have Dad to thank for that - pressing me to achieve.
Sheldon McKnight. “Shelly” was one of my dearest friends and clients until his death in 2017. My first encounter in 1996 was a sign call. You see, folks - in need of a building - used to drive around and call agents whose names appeared on signs. He described his requirement like this - 4000 square feet of dock high space he’d prefer to lease month-to month. You brokers understand. Best case, this was a $200 pay check. And I should mention, had an availability rarer than a Big Foot siting. Something inside me said I should not shine this gentleman but should try to help him. His requirement morphed into a much larger deal - a 15,000 square foot sale. Many more would follow - 18 in all over the next decade and a half. He shared with me years later his strategy. He wanted to team with someone who was hungry and would work hard on his behalf. By describing an uber small deal - he knew he’d weed out those not interested in rolling up their sleeves.
So, there you go. Rest well dear ones. Our memories are still alive.
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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