Jason West, executive managing director of brokerage services with the Rosemont, Illinois, office of Cushman & Wakefield, has worked in commercial real estate for more than two decades. And like others, he was drawn to this business by the entrepreneurial nature of it.
West recently spoke with Midwest Real Estate News about the passion he has for commercial real estate – especially his specialty of industrial – and the reasons why this career never gets boring.
Midwest Real Estate News: What do you enjoy so much about this business?
Jason West: The industrial brokerage business is so fast-paced and rewarding. You control your own destiny in terms of controlling your own success. So much of your success is based on how hard you work. What you put into it is a direct result or correlation, at least, to what you get out of it. I like to control my own destiny. It’s a business that allows you to do that.
It’s very entrepreneurial. You make your own hours and you control your own schedule. You are able to control how much or how little time and effort you put into this business. It’s like running your own company. Even though you might work for a bigger company, you are running your own business within that bigger business.
MREN: You specialize in the industrial side of the business. What do you enjoy about that side of commercial real estate?
West: In commercial real estate, you have a lot of different choices in terms of what type of product to focus on, in terms of what specifically you want to do. Industrial, though, has always fascinated me. Every company you work with in industrial is doing something a little different. It all goes back to that fast-paced part of the business. We are dealing with warehousing, distribution, manufacturing and, of course, e-commerce. There are a lot of different facets that make things interesting every day.
MREN: Why do you think this career has been such a good fit for you and your personality?
West: You need a certain level of tenacity in this business. You need to be persistent. You need to be creative. And you need a certain level of likeability. You want people to want to do business with you. Fortunately, I have been able to develop a nice roster of clients during my career. I have made a lot of friends in this business over the years. I have had very few negative interactions.
MREN: Are there any industrial deals that you’ve closed that you’re particularly proud of during your career?
West: There are so many. It’s tough to pinpoint any one particular deal. The ones that are the most rewarding are the ones that take the most time and effort to develop. There was a deal a few years ago, a very complicated food-processing deal. That transaction was five years in the making. I had put so much time and effort into that transaction by the end of it, that it was especially satisfying when that one finally got done. Those don’t come along too often. But any time there is a transaction or project you’ve worked on for a prolonged period of time, it is satisfying when you are able to get it to fruition. That gives you a certain level of satisfaction and pride that you are able to get that project over the goal line after sticking with it so long.
Rcently we have worked on about a dozen e-commerce transactions. That is the area in which we see the highest level of growth coming over the next several years. It is exciting to be involved in forging new territory in the e-commerce space. We have worked on about a dozen e-commerce transactions over the past two years. That is an exciting new area of focus.
MREN: It’s not easy to predict the future, but what do you see for the immediate future of the local industrial market? Do you think we’ll see activity in industrial continue at a healthy clip? You’ll be speaking at Rejournals’ 15 annual Commercial Real Estate Forecast Conference this Jan. 18 in Chicago. What will you be telling attendees about the strength of the market?
West: I think the market is still fairly healthy, and that we will continue to see a steady supply of new product being built by developers and investors. There is a steady supply of new speculative development. That combined with demand for industrial product means that 2017 is going to continue to be steady. We have had several good years in a row. I expect 2017 to be another solid year for industrial.
MREN: Why is Chicago such a strong industrial market?
West: Logistically it is the center of the country. You have a large population density around the Chicago metro area. You also have several major interstates and major railroad lines that all converge into Chicago. There is a very diverse economy and population base here and a diverse mix of skilled and unskilled labor. All that plays into the recipe for success.
MREN: When you’re not working, what are some ways in which you like to spend your time?
West: I have three daughters, so like to spend time with my family. I love watching them play sports, and we love to travel as a family and experience new places and see new things. I also love to play poker. I’d say I’m a decent poker player. I know what I’m doing. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.
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