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As the CRE Industry Adjusts to a Post COVID-19 World, SperryCGA Plans Global Expansion

By Meghan Hall – The Registry

While the COVID-19 pandemic raised many questions about the future of the commercial real estate industry, some firms are moving forward to expand their geographical reach. Irvine, Calif.-based SperryCGA, a commercial brokerage firm firm, is doing just that. In recent months, the firm has undertaken a slew of new hires and has restructured to accommodate its goals. The Registry recently spoke with Mark Hinkins, the company’s new president and Jamie Lung, SperryCGA’s recently promoted Manager of Franchise Operations, about the company’s plans for growth.

Mark & Jamie: Please tell The Registry a little bit about yourselves, and your careers prior to coming onto SperryCGA’s leadership team.

Mark: During my 30-year commercial real estate career, I have represented investors, institutions, lenders and borrowers in the acquisition, disposition, and leasing of commercial property across all sectors including office portfolios, industrial buildings, land, multi-family, medical office buildings high street retail, shopping centers and special use and mixed-use properties. Before affiliating with SperryCGA’s platform in 2017, I founded San Francisco’s Bay Area’s, ‘Trimark Commercial Real Estate’ (2016), and Hinkins Real Estate Analytics (2011-2016). I was an investment Broker with the Oakland, Calif. office of Grubb & Ellis Company (2001-2011), and prior to moving to the United States from the United Kingdom in 2001, I was a retail property investment specialist with publicly traded Lambert Smith Hampton “LSH” (1993-2001). I earned the prestigious CCIM designation (Certified Commercial Investment Member) in 2011, which recognizes experts in the commercial and investment real estate industry. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which is a professional body that accredits professionals within the land, property and construction sectors worldwide.

Jamie: I have been in the Real Estate industry since 2007. My career began in residential sales and lending and in 2011 I made the jump to commercial real estate when I joined Sperry Commercial. I was originally hired on as the executive assistant to the owners of the organization: Rand Sperry, Burton Young and Jack Carroll, however I quickly transitioned into the Transaction/Investor Coordinator role under the Equities division. In 2015 I was involved in the planning and launching of the Franchise platform we run today, Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates. I have more than 14 years combined experience in the commercial, residential and real estate finance industries. In 2020, I was promoted to Manager of Franchise Operations for Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates, overseeing new franchise development, compliance, systems management, Affiliate on-boarding, administration and daily operations.

Mark: How have your previous experiences prepared you for your new role as president? What attracted you to SperryCGA?

Mark: Having thirty years of ‘in the trenches’ brokerage experience as an agent and as a CRE brokerage business owner, and having sold and leased properties across all commercial property sectors, and in different markets and countries, allows me to relate to our affiliate franchisees and agents. I know the success, the challenges and what work ethics and tools it takes to succeed in the CRE brokerage business. I relate to our affiliate agents because of my previous experience.

Jamie: How has your previous time with Sperry prepared you to take on management of franchise operations?

Jamie: Having worked with the leaders of this incredible organization in different capacities, I have gained valuable experience and insights into the many sides of the real estate services industry from agency and direct property investment to company management and strategic planning. I have been able to develop an understanding of the rapport that is needed to create strong working relationships with our affiliate franchisees and agents, as well as across the corporate leadership team.

SperryCGA is growing quickly with a number of new hires and a greater restructuring of the organization. Can you discuss the firm’s strategy for growth?

Mark: SperryCGA’s mission is to be the leading commercial real estate provider on a global scale. Our new hires are all veterans in the world of commercial real estate, with deep knowledge and complimentary skills and are industry leaders in their own right. As we enter our sixth year, we have created a national network of affiliate offices from coast-to-coast and have begun our global expansion in 2021. Our affiliates are entrepreneurial, and leaders in their markets. Through our collaborative platform we have developed regional connectivity to empower our affiliates to work seamlessly within their market, or to collaborate with an affiliate office in a different market. Our investment into 3.0 CRE technology is allowing us to move to the next cycle referred to as 4.0 where our affiliates are putting these tools to work in real-time to win business and deliver results for our clients, with consistency around the world, on a common platform.

To facilitate our domestic U.S expansion we hired a National Franchise Sales Director who brings substantial CRE experience, not just in real estate but also in Capital markets, which enables us to cross collaborate with our newly formed Sperry RE Capital venture, headquartered in NYC, which provides debt origination for our SperryCGA clients and is a source of new business for affiliate agents. Strategic partnerships are key to our growth and creation of a powerful organization that delivers results around the globe. Institutional Real Estate Partners (IREP) headquartered in Dubai, U.A.E., operates facilities management services for global clients around the world and has offices in 32 countries. At SperryCGA we see facilities management as another service towards increasing the value-add component of asset ownership, which investors seek. IREP have committed to acquire and open 21 SperryCGA franchises in 16 international markets from 2021 through 2025 during phase I of our global expansion. This will greatly expand our global capabilities to offer clients transaction and facilities management services through both platforms no matter where our clients are located, anywhere in the world.

How do your new roles fit in with the company’s plans for expansion?

Mark: As President of SperryCGA, I steer our brand development and expansion plans forward and maintain and develop relationships with our affiliates and strategic partners, as well as being the spokesperson for the global brand. SperryCGA has never been better positioned as we are today to deliver on our mission, and to elevate and empower the careers and business of our affiliates, whether they are a small boutique brokerage practice or a larger office, our platform is designed to support and elevate all sizes of CRE business from small to large, and from primary MSA’s to secondary and tertiary markets.

Jamie: We will be working together with our new sales director to grow our domestic coverage and our strategic international partner, IREP, to grow the franchises.

Are there any geographical markets or CRE sectors that the firm is looking to specifically target? If so, why?

Mark: Our growth plan for 2021 and 2022 will build on our domestic affiliate network of 59 offices from coast-to-coast and expand the SperryCGA brand into markets where we have yet to have a SperryCGA affiliate office. There are amazing opportunities for independent brokerage companies to join us in over 80 U.S markets. Internationally we will have affiliate offices opening in 21 global cities in 16 countries by 2024, located in Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Our transaction services are always expanding, just this year in addition to our primary sales and leasing brokerage services, we have added business brokerage and consultancy, cannabis sector consulting, capital markets and we have several burgeoning CRE service sectors in our sights where new service consultancy lines are being developed. Globally our network of SperryCGA offices will offer these transaction services seamlessly around the world.

What are you most excited about in your new roles? Why?

Mark: I am most excited about the opportunity to empower and elevate the independently owned and operated commercial real estate business and make a real difference in every agent’s career and personal life. As the owner of my independent business, after 20 years of brokering under large stock-exchange listed corporations, the ability to own my business and control my destiny was one of the most liberating achievements of my career. As president of SperryCGA I bring that experience and passion to my position.

Jamie: I am most excited about our growth in the near future, both national and internationally. My role is to help achieve that goal by working with our corporate advisors on international trademarks and working with our international partners on global operations.

What is your current perception of the commercial real estate market? What fundamentals, market influences and metrics are you both specifically paying attention to, and why?

Mark: Post Covid-19 pandemic, the world will settle back into its rhythm, with a slightly different beat. Fundamentals will remain consistent over the long term, however the lessons learned on working practices and office utilization will and are resulting in changes to how companies interact and provide a working environment for their employees. And employees have taken stock of their priorities and made shifts in their lifestyles, particularly those working in white-collar positions in major conurbations. Despite the pandemic the CRE market has performed beyond expectations in certain sectors such as industrial, warehousing, distribution and logistics, medial and multi- family, all of which are responding to shifts and increased demand. Obviously, hospitality and retail were hit hard, but they are bouncing back as pent-up demand is being released.

The fundamentals we are paying attention to at SperryCGA are interest rates and inflation, and the economy’s capabilities to get workers engaged and back into productivity. Risk to productivity at this time includes our aging infrastructure, over stretched power grid and more frequently occurring climatic challenges.