Colliers International Tampa Bay Managing Director talks recruiting, technology and the next downturn
Colliers International Tampa Bay, Central and Southwest Florida
Tampa and Orlando
Danny Rice has been commercial real estate brokerage firm Colliers International Tampa Bay, Central and Southwest Florida’s managing director and market leader since May 2018. Though based in Orlando, Rice oversees some 70 brokers stretching from Clearwater to Fort Myers. Rice joined Colliers International from now-defunct real estate research firm Xceligent Inc., where he was a vice president and became its chief revenue officer. Before Xceligent, he was with Colliers International for eight years.
The average commercial real estate broker is in his or her mid-fifties nationwide, and at the same time, there have been a great number of intrafirm moves of late in the Tampa Bay area. How is Colliers International recruiting?
Let’s start with the aging population dilemma, for lack of a better description. So yes, I think in general there are a great many real estate brokers who have been in the business for a long time and who might qualify as being five to 10 years away from retirement. Our shop tends to skew a little bit younger than many firms, though we’re fortunate to balance that out with some seasoned veterans, but it is an issue. What we’ve done is to try and partner senior people with the next generation, a junior broker, to provide the client the expertise and coverage they need. I think a lot of firms are doing that now, but Colliers has been engaged in that for a long time. As far as recruiting, we’ve learned that in many cases agents are less concerned with their splits and more concerned with the culture they’re a part of, the collaborative environment, and being part of a platform that can best enable their success, so we’ve tried to build that at Colliers. One big thing we focus on is collaboration, so agents are working together and not stepping on one another’s toes.
How important is technology as a tool for the industry? And how do you see Colliers leveraging the tech that’s out there?
Technology is moving so fast; look at the past five to 10 years, and how much more invested in technology the commercial real estate industry is, not just in the brokerage arena but also in construction, appraisal and property management. Five years from now I think you’re going to see artificial intelligence and virtual reality become a much more apparent part of how properties are marketed. Virtual reality will be how we bring people into a building. And I think we’ll see data being used to leverage more efficiency and to make agents more successful than ever before, and drones and video will be used more to connect people to properties visually. But at the same time, we have to maintain relationships and not allow tech to be used in place of relationships.
The Tampa Bay area has undergone so much growth this protracted cycle. What sectors do you think still have some runway left at this point?
My belief is that all of Florida, and especially the Tampa Bay area, is well positioned for future growth based on continued increases in population and employment. A positive business environment allows all asset types to reap benefits. But if I had to pin down a sector I’d say industrial is especially poised for future growth. With e-commerce and the way logistics people look at distribution more as an integral part of the supply chain now, I think growth will continue for at least the next 24 to 36 months. Retail, too. That sector is a lot stronger than many people realize. You hear a lot about store closings, but vacancy continues to remain steady because there’s been a paradigm shift. Instead of big box retail, today there are smaller, more experiential retail opportunities.
“We have to maintain relationships and not allow tech to be used in place of relationships.”
How are you preparing now for the next downturn or economic recession, whenever that will be?
I think everyone in this business realizes that it’s cyclical and there are ups and downs, but what we’re trying to focus on is that regardless of the point in the cycle, there are always opportunities, it just depends on the client base you have and the needs of the client at that particular time. So we have a lot of conversations centered around educating clients in relation to the point in the cycle and what drives conditions, and how we can support client initiatives regardless.