HOUSTON-A combination of a strengthening industry and revved-up internal growth was the catalyst driving change at Transwestern. In an interview with GlobeSt.com, Transwestern chairman Robert Duncan shared the reason why Chip Clarke and Kevin Roberts were promoted, why the organization itself is undergoing structural changes and why expansion nationally and internationally is in play.
From a macro viewpoint, Duncan says the internal shifts made sense, given what’s going on with the commercial real estate market these days. The industry continues to gradually shake off the issues plaguing it from the late 2000s. As such, “the markets are beginning to cooperate with us,” Duncan observes. “Most of them around the country are well into recovery, or are stabilized, or are moving in that direction.” As such, Transwestern is taking steps to, as Duncan puts it, expand its service delivery system to current and future clients.
One of those steps involved promoting from within. As GlobeSt.com reported on Friday, Clarke is taking on the role of President, Americas, while Roberts has been named to the position of President, Southwest. Both promotions became effective Jan. 1, and come with reorganization, namely, Transwestern’s nine U.S. regional offices combined into seven territories; with those territorial leaders reporting to Clarke and firm COO Mark Doran. Roberts, in the meantime, will oversee the new southwest region.
Duncan points out that Clarke and Roberts were the obvious choices to take on these new responsibilities partly because of their longevity with the company (22 years and 20 years, respectively) and partly because of their consistency while with the firm.
“If you look at Chip and Kevin, you see that their responsibilities have been growing over the years,” Duncan says. “It’s not a brand-new thing for them to see upward mobility; their areas of responsibility have expanded multiple times, and they’ve been consistent in their performance, delivery and results for operations under their purview.”
Then there is Transwestern’s continued international push, with plans to further boost its activity in Latin America. Transwestern, incidentally, is no stranger to this region; the Transwestern Investment Group has been active in South America, which has led to a Transwestern-sponsored fund in conjunction with Latin American investors that is targeting value-add real estate in the United States. “We began on the investment side with those investors,” Duncan says. “We forged various relationships that are now allowing us to expand our service delivery system in those countries.”
Transwestern is also no stranger to international business; in 2012, it struck a partnership with BNP Paribas Real Estate in Paris to operate in Europe and, the year before, launched Transwestern MENA, a joint venture based in Riyadh that operates in the Middle East. But this time around, Transwestern is diving into Latin America directly.
“We felt as though we needed a more focused, dedicated leadership and strategic plan to grow that area, which is showing itself as a bright spot in our system,” Duncan explains. Part of that plan will involve opening offices in Latin America. Though Duncan didn’t elaborate, specifically, on where this growth would take place, he did say Colombia was one target area, as are countries in South America.
Transwestern is also eyeing potential markets in the United States as well. Duncan points out that it’s been several years since the company opened shop in the northeast. The next potential spot on the map could be the northwest. In addition to geographic expansion, Transwestern is likely to experience platform expansion as well. As such, the company is recruiting new blood, and is focused on moving its internal talent along the growth path. Duncan uses the promotions of Clarke and Roberts as examples of such promotions. “This new plan will enhance career paths and upward mobility throughout the company,” he says. “It’ll be a good thing for our existing people. There will be more opportunities across the system for our proven performers.”
All of these changes are taking place with what Duncan dubs as three legs of the Transwestern stool – the services, investment and development platforms. Transwestern has worked to seamlessly integrate these components under one umbrella; Larry Heard, as CEO of Transwestern, is responsible for continuing to build those platforms.
Duncan says these moves are another step in doing just that. ”All three of these components are moving on all cylinders here,” he notes. “The strong results we’ve been seeing with that helped solidify and finalize these arrangements for us.”