Industrial Midwest

John Coleman of Transwestern's Chicago market, talks real estate experience and keeping busy outside of work

John Coleman spent the early days of his career reporting for a suburban newspaper, a career eventually led him to the real estate business. How did that happen? The executive vice president and industrial lead for Transwestern’s Chicago market, who also happens to be the director of AIRE and SIOR, a sports fanatic and a religious education teacher, recently traced his journey to real estate for Chicago Industrial Properties.

 

John Coleman spent the early days of his career reporting for a suburban newspaper, a career eventually led him to the real estate business. How did that happen? The executive vice president and industrial lead for Transwestern’s Chicago market, who also happens to be the director of AIRE and SIOR, a sports fanatic and a religious education teacher, recently traced his journey to real estate for Chicago Industrial Properties.

Today, Coleman currently leads a 25-person industrial practice group charged with drumming up new business opportunities. He also advises on deal strategy, maintains client relationships and fortifies the platform in Chicago, as well as nationally.

That sounds like a lot – and it is – but Coleman said that he works with a “dedicated team of pros that keeps the engine humming.”

Before joining Transwestern, though, Coleman said that reporting career lead him to a position with a Michigan Avenue public relations firm that represented real estate developers. This gave him a taste for commercial real estate. Coleman worked in the venture capital business briefly before joining a former developer client as that company’s marketing vice president. Eventually, he became a leasing and tenant broker. In 2008, he became a player and coach for a practice group at the company, and eventually became its spiritual and operational leader.

That group sold itself to Transwestern last year.

Coleman said that his new position suits him. He enjoys finding and developing young broker talent, growing and building the business platform and finding solutions for the tougher client assignments.

Coleman that his most memorable deal came when he sold a large multi-building package to an investor and then resold two of the properties to different users three months later. Coleman leased the third to a client a few months later and then finally sold that leased building to another investor.

“Everybody was happy and made money along the way,” he said.

Coleman, though, doesn’t count anything in his career as his top achievement. Instead, he says – and admits that it might sound corny -- his greatest accomplishment is raising his three kids with his wife. Yes, Coleman is one proud parent.

“They are becoming really solid citizens,” he said, “and I think they are destined to make the world a better place.”

Coleman likes to keep busy outside of work. He attends several lacrosse, feeder basketball and football games, show-choir concerts and student-film festivals. He also teaches religious education and leads a high school confirmation group.

But, that's not all.

“I play too little golf and drink too much red wine,” he added.

As for the company, Coleman shared that there are a few reasons why Transwestern sets itself apart from the other firms.

“We really try to be advisor brokers and not just space jockeys,” he said. “We consider ourselves ‘deal finders’ rather than ‘deal catchers’. It takes more effort to bring a workable solution to a client’s table, but we think it’s a better approach than waiting and hoping the answer comes to us.”

He also said that Transwestern has a differentiated business model, three separate companies working together as a collaborative unit.

“Transwestern Commercial Services delivers transaction brokerage, management and a full range of client services,” he said. “Transwestern Development Company is a very active developer of office, industrial, multi-family and special-purpose facilities operating in nearly 20 states. And Transwestern Investment Group is a billion-dollar institutional and pension fund advisory group that owns and operates real estate for its own account and for third-party clients.  Independent and objective, but together, a very powerful lifecycle solution.

Coleman said he’s remained in the industry because he gets to learn a little about a lot of different business sectors and sees how different operations run and what really drives the economy. He likes the people, too, and that has made a big difference.

“I have several very close friendships that started from beginning on opposite sides of a deal and had the great pleasure of recently recruiting one of those friends to our company.”

As for the market, he said he retains a positive outlook for the rest of the year and sees strong investment continuing. He also predicts a slight uptick in rents, vacancy dropping and an emphasis on in-fill development.

“Right now, it's nearly impossible to buy a quality 40,000-square-foot to 80,000-square-foot building anywhere from Elmhurst to Aurora,” Coleman said.

Coleman said he’s been blessed with a fulfilled life.

“My dreams are pretty grounded and my needs are uncomplicated,” he said.

But if he could do something he’s never done in his lifetime, he admits that he would like to fly in a private jet or take a four-week vacation and see what it’s like to really “unplug.”