Decades of experience, innovative thinking put to work, multiple success stories and well-earned expertise on the industry battlefield have allowed these leaders to hone their skills and earn become grandmasters of the CRE game.

 

Joseph F. Coradino, The Virtuoso

The retail industry is facing some harsh challenges right now. This is not to say these issues are insurmountable—there are many, many examples that show otherwise. But they do require a special mindset, a special finesse, to navigate. In short, to master the retail industry right now requires being a virtuoso of sorts, much like Joseph Coradino, CEO of PREIT.

Coradino’s unofficial motto could well be “find a way to make it work,” a lesson he learned at an early age. A self-made man, Coradino lost his father as a young boy. To help make ends meet, he held various jobs working as a janitor, a delivery man and a bartender, among others. He then joined the army to get a college education, after which he put him through graduate school.

Coradino took the helm of PREIT in 2012. It was a far easier time for the retail industry, but Coradino moved forward with a plan to shore up the REIT’s balance sheet and improve the overall quality of the portfolio. He went on to execute a large-scale disposition program in which PREIT sold 17 underperforming properties that came to nearly 40% of its then-portfolio. The sales generated $800 million in gross proceeds, which was invested in redevelopment and remerchandising of the stronger assets. As for those 17 malls that were sold—25 of their anchor stores have closed since then.

Fast forward to 2017 and PREIT had proactively recaptured 11 anchors. By May of 2018 five of these anchors were replaced with operating tenants with leases signed for four additional anchor replacements and pending leases at two remaining properties. The bottom line for Coradino’s efforts: 17 sought-after tenants in diverse uses paying rents that are eight times greater than their respective spaces were previously generating.

 

Steven E. McCraney, The Visionary

If you are touring industrial facilities in the Southeast US, you’ll probably come across a Steven McCraney creation. McCraney is president and CEO of McCraney Property Co., a company he founded 28 years ago. He and his team have since developed more than 15 million square feet of industrial/distribution and office-flex properties—many of which are uniquely designed. The exteriors of the industrial buildings are reminiscent of retail storefronts, with modern high-end finishes and landscaping similar to what you’d see in front of a retail store.

To understand why, one must first remember that design within industrial has traditionally been an afterthought with efficiencies emphasized without regard to aesthetics. To determine what industrial users’ needs might be in five years, McCraney met with execs in the traditional industrial, e-commerce and freight-forwarding industries. He came away from these meetings convinced that industrial real estate, given its growing importance in the supply chain and overall level of activity, will one day be another retail outpost. Few can say he was mistaken.

In general, McCraney is a believer in the concept that the work environment is as important as the way and type of work one does. From the architecture to the egress and ingress, design elements are incorporated into his properties to enhance the feeling of place.

Of course the work itself is integral to McCraney’s belief system, which has been imparted to his employees. As a company, success is not just by client satisfaction, but by the firm’s commitment to the core principles the CEO put down: Building Relationships. Building Communities. Building Value. Driving Customer Service.

Sr. property manager Michael Lanford testifies, “I am a 100% different person than I was my first day. The experience and knowledge I’ve gained is unbelievable. I don’t want to work anywhere else because of the satisfaction I get from my work.” The firm has been recognized multiple times and across multiple platforms for its customer-service oriented team and its best-in-class industrial product.

As for McCraney himself, he lives his life by the Helen Keller quote: “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” As such, he is an active alpine climber and has scaled many of the world’s tallest peaks for the children’s charity, “Place of Hope.”

 

Daniel M. Palmier, The Maverick

When UC Funds’ president and CEO, Daniel Palmier, founded the commercial real estate specialty finance firm in 2010, his goal was to create new financing solutions to offer quick and customized loans throughout the entire capital stack. It was an inauspicious time to be a lender for CRE, much less one that would go against the norms in lending. But as an alternative to the traditional bank, Palmier was determined to create products that were anything but traditional. He was determined, in other words, to be a maverick.

He and his team went on to create fast and flexible loans for redevelopment without having to tackle the tightening bank regulations of the time. Then, he did it again last year. Observing that commercial banks were pulling back on real estate lending due to additional banking regulations, Palmier created UC GO, a variable rate non-recourse commercial mortgage bridge loan, in partnership with Barclays. UC GO offers 0.5 debt service coverage ratio, which is twice as competitive as other products on the market, according to UC Funds. The loan also provides 85% loan to value (LTV), compared with the more common 60 to 75% LTV for competing products.

In one of its first deals, UC GO provided a $5.8 million first mortgage bridge loan for the refinancing of a 89,008-square-foot Kohl’s in Texarkana, TX. UC Funds has closed eight deals in less than a year from the product’s launch and has many more transactions in the pipeline. UC Funds has a wide range of products created with this kind of entrepreneurial perspective. A national balance sheet provider of both debt and equity capital solutions, UC Funds has provided over $2 billion of capital solutions to date, including joint venture equity.

Palmier has implemented his outside-the-box thinking to his philanthropic venture, the Palmier Foundation, as well. The foundation has formed many partnerships including the Haiti Self Sustainability Project, St. Christopher’s School and UGAFCA. The most recent one was for the Asian Christian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the first Christian university in India. UC Funds donated $325,000, with $100,000 going directly to the design and construction of the college.

 

Angela Tucci, The Diplomat

From the very start, Angela Tucci was well aware she was stepping into some big shoes as she took over as CEO of Apto. The software company’s founder, Tanner McGraw, was transitioning to a new role but was still involved in the company, and his employees were very loyal to him. But Tucci forged ahead, determined to earn the same for herself.

She started by being transparent at every stage of the handover and by ensuring she had employee buy-in at all times of the process. Her manner helped, too: Tucci is known for going out of her way to put people at ease while eliciting their best work.

Her efforts paid off. Today, Tucci is at the help of a company whose employees are united and motivated. Not to mention, the firm’s board is pleased as well.

It is worth highlighting a few of the measures that Tucci put in place that went far in establishing her creds as the company’s top diplomat. She initiated day-long quarterly business planning meetings in which employees are able to recommend strategic initiatives and identify areas where they can add value. She also leads the company’s monthly Town Halls in which employees are able to submit anonymous questions about the business and the leadership team addresses them in a forum for the entire company. The Town Halls are a particular favorite with employees as they are able to ask questions, voice concerns and gain better insight into the company’s operations.

Tucci came to Apto with a wealth of experience in the technology sector, having served as general manager of the Agile management business unit at CA Technologies before joining the company. In the early 1990s, she was one of the pioneers of the CRM (customer relationship management) software industry and has led both public and private companies over the years, not only in CRM but in a variety of tech sectors. She has held executive positions at Rally Software, Symantec and NEON. She has also founded two venture-backed technology companies.

 

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