Life at Sentry Commercial
Sentry Commercial’s Curt Gemme on Hartford’s Upstart Ecosystem
Twenty years ago I would describe the vibe in Hartford as non existent. Nobody lived downtown to speak of and at the end of the day it was like a ghost town.
Now getting back involved in Hartford over the past 5 months has been an amazing experience. I was excited to dig in and see just what was going on in Hartford today. I had dozens of lunches with Hartford’s business leaders and participated in a multitude of networking events through the BOMA and REFA organizations. I was asked by Devra Sisitsky, Executive Director, MakerspaceCT to be part of their Legacy Committee.
I attended some the best Christmas parties and talked with hundreds of people. The result I can tell you is that there is an ecosystem which exists. It’s about culture, community, collaboration and innovation. Businesses partnering with each other to effect change in how their industries, including Insurance, Healthcare, Commercial Real Estate, etc will work in the future.
What’s even more amazing is Hartford is culturally rich with companies and entrepreneurs coming into the city from over 50 countries. In fact, Hartford, for many of these entrepreneurs it is their first ever entry point into the United States. Grey Flynn, Director of Upward Hartford Labs and I were at an event at the Stanley Innovation Center in downtown and we were trying to determine just how many startups are coming through Hartford each year. We think it could now be close to 100 startups a year. Wow!
Hartford has become one of the top 10 markets for technology jobs and one of the top markets for college grads looking to find a job. University of Connecticut’s downtown campus is at maximum capacity with 1650 undergrads and 1650 graduate students. There are now over 2,500 downtown residents, with more coming to work in our City from all over the place. Not to mention new renovation apartment construction on Pearl Street, 101 units all leased in under 6 months.
So what is Hartford’s upstart ecosystem? Digital Health CT, Rainmaking, Startubootcamp, Nassau-Re, Re-set, Stanley Innovation Center, InsurTec, Medtec, Launch Hartford, MakerspaceCT. All organizations driving innovation through programs, mentoring, funding and leadership to give these entrepreneurs a better chance of success.
Just this week Digital Health CT held its Velocity Demo Day 2020 at the Bushnell and we had the opportunity to hear from 10 different medtec companies. With close to 600 people in attendance, this was an amazing event. Also, this week we’re humbled to be part of Upward Hartford Labs partner week where we meet with 5 CEO’s of PropTec companies that are looking to launch their businesses over the next year. So yes, Hartford has created a vibe and it’s unique and culturally diverse. Very exciting times for Hartford today and ahead…
Sentry Commercial’s Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE Becomes a RICS Fellow
Sentry Commercial’s Mark Duclos recently became a RICS Fellow, making his title now Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE, FRICS. This professional achievement entitles Duclos to influence policy and instill the standards of highly qualified trainees and professionals from significant financial markets.
RICS, or The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, is globally recognized for promoting their set of principles in the development and management of real estate, land, construction, and infrastructure. Governments, investors, consumers, and other stakeholders are impacted by the responsibility and commitment of this fellowship. With the use of trusted data and insight, the 134,000 qualified members aim to provide solutions to present challenges while making innovations for future generations.
Sentry Commercial’s team is honored to be part of an organization whose leadership represents positive change in the built and natural environments.
SIOR Inducts Sentry Commercial’s Duclos To 2020 Board of Directors
This article originally appeared in SIOR’s online publication
Interviewed by Roger Mecca & Alexis Fermanis – 10/16/2019
Appointment of New Members Made Official During Annual Fall World Conference in Portland, Ore.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® (SIOR), the world’s leading commercial real estate association, announced today they have installed a new Board of Directors to lead the organization’s efforts for the next twelve months. The new members were sworn in during SIOR’s Fall World Conference, held in Portland, OR, October 17-19, 2019, and will remain in their roles until the end of October 2020, after serving a one-year term. Mark J. Duclos, SIOR, CRE, assumed the role of global president, following his year as the board’s President-Elect. Duclos is currently the president of Sentry Commercial in Hartford, CT and has been an SIOR since 2003.
Patrick J. Sentner, SIOR, took office as SIOR’s president-elect. After serving in this role for one year, Sentner will assume his role as president of the Board in the fall of 2020. He is the executive vice president of CBRE, in Pittsburgh, PA and became an SIOR in 2002.
Patricia J. Loveall, SIOR, took control as the board’s vice-president. After serving a one-year term as Vice President, Loveall will serve as President-elect for a year and then step into the Presidency of SIOR in the fall of 2021. Loveall is an executive vice president and partner with Kidder Mathews in Seattle, WA and has been an SIOR since 1997.
Christopher Curtis, SIOR, took office as president of the SIOR Foundation. He will serve a one-year term. Curtis is currently principal with Nugent Curtis Real Estate in Kankakee, IL.
A complete list of SIOR leadership can be found HERE.
“Since becoming an SIOR over 15 years ago, I have been continually impressed with our members”, Duclos says. “Our members are not just talented at what they do…they are good people with a commitment to decency and doing things right. This is an exciting time for commercial real estate, with incredible growth in many markets. That growth, however, is simultaneously creating fresh challenges. New technology, e-commerce, shared workspaces, flex-office, last-mile warehousing – they are all creating new demands and challenges across the country. We believe that SIOR and our members are well-positioned to be the best resource for landlords, tenants, and investors looking for expertise and guidance as we approach 2020.”
Sentry Commercial’s Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE is Inducted as President of SIOR
On Thursday, October 17th, Sentry Commercial’s President, Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE was inducted as the President of the Society of Industrial and Office REALTORS® (SIOR) at the 2019 SIOR Fall World Conference.
Nearly 1,000 of the world’s most knowledgeable commercial real estate professionals met to discuss the trends, opportunities, and challenges in the CRE industry and were able to listen to Duclos’ vision for his new role.
The team at Sentry Commercial was proud to have attended this significant event! We would like to congratulate our President Mark on his induction and continued success for SIOR as well as send a special thank you to Robert Thornburgh, SIOR, CCIM, for his recent leadership of SIOR and continued support.
Duclos Discusses Making the Most of an SIOR Conference
Tips From Your President
SIOR Sits Down with Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE
Alexis Fermanis October 16, 2019
You’ve brought your business cards, you’ve scheduled your networking events, and you’re ready to mix, mingle, and learn. We’re ready to help you succeed and enjoy a fantastic event. We sat down with incoming SIOR Global President Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE for some insider tips on how to make the most of an SIOR conference.
SIOR: You’ve been to 32 conferences, and quite a few now as a member of the SIOR Board of Directors. How does it feel to now be leading the conference as the next SIOR President?
Duclos: It’s awesome! I remember coming to my first conference and I was scared to death. The content was great…the people were great…but I didn’t know anyone! But once I got out of my comfort zone and began meeting people, it became incredibly fulfilling. I stuck with it!!! Now 16 years later I am the President of SIOR and the rest is history! I am the President of THE organization that has made THE most significant impact on my professional career (and in many ways my company and my life)! President of an organization whose members humble me daily. Many members who I aspire to be like.
SIOR: What’s the one thing you never forget to pack for an SIOR event?
Duclos: It’s actually three items…my cards, my SIOR pin (wear it!) and ibuprofen (lots of great, long nights!). SIOR is about a lot of things, but first and foremost it’s about connections. Meeting people! Great people! And that can mean a late night or two…or three! Of course my business cards and my pin say EVERYTHING about WHO I AM!
SIOR: What’s the first thing you do when you arrive?
Duclos: My conference prep actually starts before I step on the plane. I review the schedule and the attendee list and make a plan for who I want to meet or reach out to while here. I try to schedule meetings in advance to carve out some time to meet.
SIOR: What advice would you give to a first-time conference attendee?
Duclos: Dive In! Everyone is likely here for the same reason…to meet people! The good news here is the people you meet are also here to help you! It’s here that we exchange meaningful discussions and build lasting relationships. It’s ALL about relationships!!! You get what you give. Don’t bury yourself in your room and don’t be afraid to start a conversation or join in and introduce yourself. Even let them know you are new! You’ll be amazed (or maybe you won’t) at how welcoming everyone is!
SIOR: What’s the biggest takeaway from any conference you’ve been to?
Duclos: People want it to happen now. But what you really are doing is investing in yourself — taking the time to learn something new; getting out of your comfort zone; making new connections and expanding your world. If I gave up on my first couple of experiences…I would not be here today and I certainly wouldn’t have close to the success I have had in my career. SIOR is first and foremost about PEOPLE. People who understand the BIG picture and people who are willing to invest in their future. And what’s really different…People who are willing to help YOU! My biggest takeaway from a conference? Invest in your future. Get out of your comfort zone!!
SIOR: What are you most excited for here in Portland? Is there a single session you are really looking forward to?
Duclos: I am so excited and totally honored to be the President of SIOR. So, Portland to me is a very different experience than any other conference. All our educational sessions always give me take-home value. It’s amazing to me how I will get home from these conferences and educational sessions and almost immediately help a client with something I learned at the SIOR conference. SIOR education gives you immediate street-cred with your clients…even here in little ole Hartford CT!
SIOR: Can you tell us three of your best tips for ensuring a successful event?
Duclos: 1. Be yourself. BUT, get out of your comfort zone. 2. Understand you get what you give. This is not an immediate return (although I did do a 580,000 SF lease, 3 years after being an SIOR). Don’t make it more complicated than it is…Go meet people!!! 3. When you meet someone new or catch up with someone, make some notes of some personal or professionally important details that you can follow up with later (I scribble notes on the back of the business cards I receive). Those extra personal touches go a long way in building lasting relationships.
SIOR: What are the biggest questions you expect to be asked at the conference? Or – what are the hottest topics you expect to be discussed at the conference?
Duclos: I expect a lot of chatter around the demise of WeWork (Is this the end of shared workspace?)! Also: What are the biggest challenges to CRE brokerage in today’s world?…E-Commerce! The “R” word! Technology…prop tech…CoStar and data!
Sentry Commercial’s Curt Gemme Joins the BOMA Greater Hartford Chapter
We’re proud to announce that Sentry Commercial’s Curt Gemme, Director of Business Development, will be joining The Greater Hartford BOMA Chapter!
The Greater Hartford BOMA Chapter is one of the most highly respected real estate organizations in the Greater Hartford Region and it attracts numerous real estate professionals, property managers, facility managers, brokers, building contractors, and vendors. Members include building owners, developers, property management companies, and a handful of major corporations and fortune 500 companies.
“I am excited the be joining this organization. I have been a big fan of BOMA throughout my real estate career and now look forward to getting Sentry Commercial and myself involved at the member and volunteer level.” – Curt Gemme, Director of Business Development.
Sharing Gemme’s excitement is Jeannie, Executive Director, “we are excited to welcome Sentry Commercial as the newest member of Greater Hartford BOMA. BOMA is an association whose mission is to advance a vibrant commercial real estate industry through advocacy, influence, and knowledge by representing the owners and managers of all commercial property types. We believe Sentry will be a great fit in helping us uphold this mission. We’re looking forward to Curt becoming an active and valuable member, and thank Sentry for their support of BOMA. Greater Hartford BOMA is managed by S&S Management Services, a company that specializes in the management and administration of professional and trade associations.”
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE to Speak at REFA Hartford Event
Sentry Commercial’s Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE will be speaking at the REFA’s Hartford Chapter Event on Thursday, October 24th, 2019.
The event will be held at the Hartford Hilton, 315 Trumbull Street and will include fireside chats featuring leaders in National CRE Associations: Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE, Brad Hutensky, ICSC, and Holly Neber, CREW.
Sentry Commercial is proudly a Hartford Chapter 2019 Sponsor!
Schedule as follows:
5:00 pm Registration
5:30 pm Program
6:30 pm Reception
Register online at www.refact.org!
The Importance of Cleaning Your Commercial Property’s Gutters
Colder weather is upon us, are your property’s gutters prepared?
Clean your gutters! Without regular cleaning, the drainage system will become clogged and/or compromised.
This can result in:
- Sanitary hazards
- Electrical damage
- Structural damage to the building
- Unsightly building stains
- Damage to exterior appearances such as sidewalks and foundations
- Dangerous falling ice
Ignoring your gutters before the winter may cause the standing water within the gutters to freeze. This means more build-up and more freezes. The weight can eventually cause the gutters to shift, resulting in malfunction.
Commercial properties require different types of attention, but the most opportune time to prepare your gutters is in the fall and spring seasons when leaves, twigs, and other debris collect. A professional can assess your gutters efficiently and safely, making any repairs.
A property manager can help prevent your commercial property from experiencing a costly disaster. Understanding the value of your property and the utmost importance of maintaining and improving upon that value is vital.
Sentry Commercial’s Growth Continues – Curt Gemme Hired to Business Development Position
September 23, 2019 – Hartford, Connecticut – Sentry Commercial has experienced steady and continued growth across the Southern New England region in Commercial Real Estate markets. The company focuses on industrial, office and land availabilities, and has been a leading firm in the region since 1990.
The company announced today that it has added to its roster Curt Gemme, an experienced veteran of not only Commercial Real Estate but the Southern New England area. From approximately 1990 to 2001 Gemme worked at Sentry Commercial as the Director of Office Leasing and Investment Sales. During that time, he completed over 150 transactions with a total volume of over $250,000,000.
This tenure was followed by a founding partner and CEO position at Keller Williams of Greater Hartford from 2006-2010. Gemme built an executive team and recruited over 100 agents opening two franchises in Avon and West Hartford. Today, with 5 offices and 450 agents it has become one of the largest real estate companies in Connecticut.
From there, Gemme served as Vice President and Partner of the McLadden Restaurant Group. The new venture met with great success between 2010 and 2016, as McLadden’s became one of the most popular and recognizable establishments in the greater Hartford area, eventually expanding into Northampton, MA and Simsbury, CT. During that time, Gemme led the physical aspects of the enterprise, including construction management, plant operations, and equipment purchasing. Also, of note, Gemme managed human resources including recruiting, staffing, training, and investor relations.
Gemme now brings three decades of experience to the team at Sentry Commercial. His expertise and savvy in areas of marketing, technology, and leadership will build upon Sentry Commercial’s future-focused operation.
“Curt has the entrepreneurial spirit and leadership experience that we look for in our players,” explains Mark Duclos, SIOR, President of Sentry Commercial. “We have our eyes on the big picture for our clients, our partners and our community, and his vision will be a welcome complement to our team.”
Sentry Commercial’s core values revolve around concepts like camaraderie, collaboration, and teamwork. Gemme’s team-building experience will be a strong asset in this realm. Additionally, the firm’s focus on building partnerships around the region and across the country have enabled them to stay competitive amid worldwide players in the space.
Outside of work, Gemme spends time with his three children, renovating property, music, cooking, and staying healthy through personal training and indoor cycling. His energy and enthusiasm will be a positive addition to Sentry Commercial.
Sentry Commercial is a leading independent real estate firm in Hartford, CT focusing on brokerage and advisory, property management, and construction management services. The firm was established in 1991 and served Western Connecticut and all of Southern New England. Their unique partnership approach allows them to serve clients across the country. For more information, visit http://sentrycommercial.com.
“IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SUPPLY CHAIN”- REBusiness Interview with Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE
Proximity to transit hubs will remain a key driver of industrial real estate activity, says SIOR president-elect Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE
Interview by John Nelson
This article originally appeared in RE Business.
A month after terminating its agreement to carry Amazon’s air deliveries, FedEx has opted to not renew its contract with the eCommerce giant that ended Aug. 31 for ground deliveries. In recent years, Amazon has invested in its own delivery services such as fleets and cargo planes and now will have to recalibrate ahead of the 2019 holiday shopping season without support from FedEx.
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE, President-Elect of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), says the FedEx-Amazon fallout is the latest example of how e-commerce firms and their supporting companies are still figuring out how to best optimize their logistics networks. “It’s all about squeezing costs out of the supply chain,” says Duclos, who also serves as president of Sentry Commercial, a commercial real estate brokerage firm covering Southern New England. “Transportation is still the No. 1 cost for e-commerce companies, and they continue to try to squeeze dollars out of those costs.”
E-commerce companies are cutting down on transportation costs by strategically locating their facilities both closer to their customers and also near transportation hubs such as seaports and airports. For example, Boston-based e-commerce giant Wayfair is investing heavily in port submarkets, including a new 1.1 million-square-foot facility near Port of Savannah that will create 1,000 jobs. “Where is the product coming from and how do you get it to the end-user?” says Duclos. “Obviously air and sea are two significant links in the supply chain, so airports and ports will continue to be busy areas for industrial development.”
REBusinessOnline.com recently caught up with Duclos, who will take over as SIOR president at the organization’s 2019 Fall World Conference in October. Duclos will serve his one-year term immediately as he replaces outgoing president Robert Thornburgh of Kidder Matthews. What follows is an edited transcript of the Q&A with Duclos:
REBO: In our 2018 interview with SIOR past president Del Markward, he said the biggest emerging trend was developers taking older urban warehouses and multi-story properties and converting them into last-mile fulfillment and storage facilities. A year-and-a-half later, is that an established trend?
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE: It’s still a trend as e-commerce companies are trying to get closer to the consumer. In populated cities, there’s not an awful lot of available real estate so companies are looking at alternative options, which includes an existing single-story product or brand new multi-story properties. We’re absolutely seeing that driving up the cost for a product that was obsolete but has now become relevant. As far as multi-story development, we’re not seeing that in tertiary markets. It’s more in the major markets where there is a massive population that these companies are trying to reach. That type of development is not running rampant across the country.
REBO: What are some of the pros and cons of industrial real estate perhaps “going vertical” in bigger markets?
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE: The cost to develop a multi-story project is much more expensive than a single-story project. The positive is that companies are getting closer to the consumer base so they’re not giving up the preference geographically. The cons are functionality. Companies have learned how to make multi-story work, but that’s not the preferred method of distribution. The preference is still to distribute out of single-story facilities. The capital markets are still questioning the viability of multi-story distribution and warehouses. That’s something they’ll get more comfortable with over time, but they’re worried that if that user transitions and goes to another facility, what are they left with?
REBO: Talk for a minute about how Amazon and other e-commerce companies are continuing to push the need for warehouses, distribution centers and fulfillment centers around the country.
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE: It’s more of the same, it’s not a recent phenomenon. Here in Connecticut, Amazon just opened another 1 million-square-foot distribution center in the southern part of the state. The company has a couple lastmile facilities and another 1.5 million square feet in northern Connecticut. Amazon also has a 200,000-square-foot sortation center in central Connecticut. Those facilities have all come on line in the past three or four years. The pressure on warehouse and distribution product in just about every market that’s populated will continue to see the same from the Amazons and Wayfairs of the world. The requirements might change, but there’s going to be a continual need for those facilities moving forward.
REBO: Outside of e-commerce, what other industries or drivers are spurring demand for industrial real estate?
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE: E-commerce is a universal driver, but outside of that a lot of the other industries driving demand are pretty market-specific. For instance, in Connecticut, our top drivers are arguably aerospace and healthcare/bioscience. But that may not be the same for Cincinnati. Industrial is a very local business.
REBO: How have automation and robotics impacted industrial real estate on the ground level? Have there been any fundamental design changes to accommodate new technology?
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE: Robotics and automation have changed the internal processes for these users and it has changed the way e-commerce users are utilizing their warehouses and manufacturing facilities. There is no question that the design of the distribution center three years ago is different than the design of that same company’s distribution center today. Accounting for robotics and automation is not as much of a challenge for the build-to-suit market because they’re designing these warehouse facilities based on those new specs. The real challenge is for developers that are building speculative buildings coming on line in 12 to 18 months. They might be building a spec project that may not be suitable for these companies because of the changes in robotics and what that process is changing in the design of the building. We’ve had national meetings with a lot of knowledgeable people, and there will be discussions on topics such as the ideal clear height for a warehouse or the ideal column spacing. If there are 10 people in that room, you’ll probably get five different answers. The other major question is truck parking. About five or six years ago it was not a big deal, but now truck parking is one of the largest components of a spec development. There is a need for excess truck parking, whether directly at the facility or on a separate site near the facility. We get calls sometimes from sellers that want to convert their building downtown to a warehouse but they have zero parking, so it’s not going to work.
REBO: Is there a growing demand for cold storage facilities as grocery delivery becomes more prominent in the United States?
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE: Yes, absolutely. But it’s still such a small part of the overall industrial market. The Food Marketing Institute and research firm Nielsen are projecting 100 million square feet of cold storage will be built in the next five years. That’s pretty significant, especially since I haven’t seen any new cold storage development for most of my career. Online grocery is driving that growth in demand. The largest percentage of cold storage demand will be in gateway cities like Los Angeles and New York. In Connecticut, we have two cold storage requirements that my firm is handling, but we have zero product available to put the users in. So if we do place them, it’ll have to be new product.
REBO: How is the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use in many states affecting demand for industrial space?
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE: Generally, legalization of medical and recreational cannabis has had a positive effect on industrial real estate. However, the significance of that impact varies from state to state depending on when they changed their marijuana policies. SIOR held its Fall World Conference in Denver in the fall of 2018, and some of the attendees were treated to a tour of the Denver industrial market. The effect on industrial real estate in that market was significant. In comparison, the State of Massachusetts legalized marijuana in December 2016, but the effect on the real estate market, while positive, has not yet been significant.
REBO: Since the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, are industrial owners and developers taking advantage of the opportunity zone program?
Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE: I haven’t seen much talk about opportunity zone transactions taking place yet nationally. In Connecticut, we’re seeing a lot of interest in opportunity zones, but we’re not seeing any transactions that were specifically driven by the federal program. People are still trying to completely understand the benefits of opportunity zones. There is more information coming out about the program and how investors can utilize it to generate deals, but I don’t see those transactions happening yet. However, we are seeing marketing from brokers, landlords and developers that are incorporating opportunity zones into their advertising for sites.
SIOR is a global professional office and industrial real estate association based in Washington, D.C. The organization has more than 3,300 members in 686 cities and 36 countries. Learn more about membership at go.sior.com/results.
This Q&A was also featured on the following publications:
An Inside Look at Sentry Commercial’s Self-Review, Renew, Rebrand & Growth Strategy
Self-reflection for a business that puts its clients at the center of everything they do means finding ways to improve. With that goal in mind, Sentry Commercial just completed its three-year strategic plan (albeit it took 43 months!). Here’s a look at how we’ve changed to serve you better!
Review and Renew
As a customer-centric firm, our approach is all about ensuring our people, processes and technology work holistically and efficiently to best serve every client. We have just completed a full transition of our customer relationship management system that gives our staff improved and seamless access to client, project and property data wherever they may be, via smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
Growth that Serves Our Clients
The Sentry Commercial Advantage is based on our ability to deliver the services our clients need. To that end, we acquired a property management firm in 2017 and we’ve increased our portfolio by 250 percent.
In 2018 we expanded again by adding our Construction Management group. This has also proven to be a rousing success with 75 percent of the business for this new service coming from our current clients.
A New Day and a Renewed Brand
Two things have always defined our brand: being customer-centric and constantly refining a culture of collaboration and care. The completion of our three-year strategic plan makes us a new and more efficient company that’s better positioned to fulfill that brand promise.
To further convey that it’s a new day for Sentry Commercial and our clients, we topped off our three-year strategic plan with a brand refresh that reflects who we are today and what we will be tomorrow. By providing better tools and technologies that spur staff collaboration coupled with vertically integrated service expansion, we’ve renewed our promise to put your needs at the center of everything we do.
Start With Someone Who Cares
Start with Someone Who Cares™ – What Does It Really Mean?
A few months ago, Sentry Commercial’s Start with Someone Who Cares™ tagline was trademarked. It took some time and effort to make things official, but it is official, and we are very proud with how the trademark represents our company.
This endeavor was a part of our 3-Year Strategic Plan which involved conducting a deep dive into our company, the services we offer, and quantifying the difference between Sentry Commercial and our competition.
You may be reading this and wondering “what does Start with Someone Who Cares™” mean?
At Sentry Commercial, we believe in starting with the “who” and the “why”, not the “what.” It’s important for our team to understand WHO we are before focusing on WHAT we do. While it is very important to be good at WHAT you do individually, we believe we first need to know WHY we do it, individually and collectively!
Because of this, we believe there has to be a core value within our company and how we operate our business. One of the resounding results of our 3-Year Strategic Plan was that all our employees had a core value of CARING – as they care deeply about their clients, their associates, and their community.
Company President Mark Duclos says, “We need to be sure that we wake up every day and think about our clients and what we can do to make them successful. Therefore, we need to be sure the people who work for our company value that approach.”
At Sentry Commercial, we compete every day against very different types of companies – multinationals with large corporate services platforms, small brokerage companies who do business the old-school way, and locally-based, technologically advanced niche players. Despite the competition, Sentry Commercial has stood out due to our collaborative approach and our level of care of the people we serve. While we are equipped with advanced technology and data, that doesn’t mean anything unless you use it for the betterment of your clients and your people.
We are not for everyone. While most companies (including Sentry Commercial) place value on the quality of work, not all companies (or employees) place such a high value on caring and collaboration. We respect that. However, for those who do (clients and employees), we believe a relationship with Sentry Commercial will create unmatched, long-term success and long-term, lasting relationships.
Sentry Commercial is proud of our clients and our people and their success. As we grow, we are continuously seeking likeminded clients and associates who appreciate our approach to our business!
At Sentry Commercial, we understand we need to deliver professional services (tools, information, data, tech, communication, etc.) to our clients for them to be successful. But we believe it’s more than that. We believe it’s HOW you deliver those services that counts. That’s more care per square foot.
Contact us today if you’d like a different approach and relationship with your commercial real estate services provider.
Sentry Commercial Grounds Maintenance Primer
The transition to summer brings a new set of commercial property grounds maintenance challenges. Property owners will have to anticipate and plan for expected and unexpected challenges with project schedules based on a host of criteria.
That’s because commercial property grounds maintenance has a lot of moving parts. They can range from hard and soft surfaces, trees, plants, and lawns to architectural landscaping elements, like railings, seating, walkways, paths and more.
Grounds maintenance is a mix of creating and maintaining the aesthetic while enabling the practical such as routing, safety, and privacy. This grounds maintenance primer assumes you have (or will have) a great landscaping crew or company in place.
While you can handle the details of getting the job done with the proper tools and expertise, it’s up to you and your property manager to have a plan and oversight to direct them. This primer goes over some of those bigger picture elements that you should be considering.
- It’s imperative to have someone with experience visually inspecting the grounds once a month to take notes about what needs doing and what is being done.
- A good grounds maintenance company can also help to ensure that your business’ exterior is safe and poses no risk to customers.
- Commercial property grounds improvements are always part of the long-term mix, so creating a plan based on priorities, time, and budget allocations will help determine the framework for execution.
- While grounds maintenance priorities always have an aesthetic component, they are also driven by safety/security, usability, privacy and the costs associated with long-term neglect. In other words, don’t put off repairs of cracks, potholes, splintering and other problems for too long. This can result in much bigger and expensive problems when a situation goes from “somewhat unsightly” to hazardous, unusable, and non-compliant.
- Work with your grounds maintenance company to develop the plan for improvements and repairs that includes safety, security, privacy, usability and aesthetics.
- Grounds maintenance recommendations for your grass are dependent upon climate, soils, water restrictions, grass types, amount of foot traffic and landscaping. This can mean the inclusion of berms, different types of grass based on foot traffic and exposure, privacy hedges and shading trees (removal as well as planting).
- Upgrades to your irrigation system can save you a lot of money on water and help you direct water to all the plants around the property.
- It’s a good idea for property owners without a seasoned property manager to get familiar with the benefits and methods of irrigation system upgrades via this EPA WaterSense Management Guide before choosing a reputable irrigation company.
- Things like railings for safety as well as short seat walls and other surfaces of various heights can direct traffic around the property or be used as transitions from one area to another. These all have practical, safety, and aesthetic components that can help improve the bottom line, safety and security in the long term.
Grounds maintenance encompasses much more than choosing the best company to handle it. To be cost effective and responsive, you’ll need a seasoned property management company to interface with them, plan and budget projects, and ensure that inspections are carried out regularly.
The look and functionality of your property and its grounds are the baseline for desirability, occupancy, compliance, safety, and functionality. Remember that “curb appeal” for a commercial property can have bigger ramifications than even a residential property as it can mean the difference between higher rents, happy tenants and full long-term occupancy on the one hand and fines, low income, and tenant turnover on the other.
Why Industrial Strength is the Real Story Behind E-Commerce
Technological innovation has led to industrial transformation and a renewed race for space.
“Industrial design-build and spec development is at an all-time high throughout the country,” Mark Duclos said.
WASHINGTON, DC—The e-commerce effect on retail business may still get most of the headlines, but commercial real estate pros recognize the impressive impact on its behind-the-scenes counterpart. GlobeSt.com spoke to Mark Duclos, president-elect of the SIOR board of directors and president of Sentry Commercial, a Hartford, CT-based real estate advisory firm, to discuss industrial real estate strength and dynamics, from supply chains and site selection to labor pools and data centers.
“E-commerce has redefined logistics,” said the 30-year CRE veteran and past president of SIOR’s Connecticut chapter. “There’s been a huge impact on supply chains and logistics as it relates to air, ocean, trucking, rail and intermodal facilities. There’s really been a whole A to Z effect certainly on real estate, but also the modes of transportation and how product is delivered.”
Duclos noted that the overall national industrial vacancy rate last year was 4.3 percent, the lowest ever recorded. Meanwhile, rents rose 7.4 percent. Investment volumes also confirm the momentum. According to Duclos, there has been a 29 percent average annual investment increase in industrial real estate in the past five years versus only 1 percent average annually for the preceding 20 years.
“Industrial design-build and spec development is at an all-time high throughout the country,” he added. “There’s literally no long-term over-supply. There are a number of markets where vacancy is less than 2 percent, but typically you have a lot of supply in the pipeline in those markets, albeit not enough to keep up with demand.”
E-commerce site selection, including “last-mile” deployment, is really about proximity to the customer base, highway access, quality of real estate and labor pool. According to Duclos, “The first four are most critical by far. The cost of real estate, while certainly important, is fifth or sixth down on the priority list.”
Product needs have generally been high-bay, cross-dock facilities, but with last-mile delivery a priority, Class B space has moved up on investor radars. The demand within the sector, coupled with the general race for space in and around population centers, has spurred alternative site selection trends. To be near their customer base, e-commerce firms are increasingly looking to adaptive reuse and multi-story facilities.
Developers have had to change how they design spec facilities, and not just tweaking height and depth. How developers account for trucks at fulfillment centers is a major change.
The dynamic e-commerce drivers are such that entire asset classes have been transformed. Cold-storage space is actually becoming a market in of itself because of online grocers, said Duclos. And data centers are taking more of an edge computing approach, shifting total reliance on distant mega-facilities to more local and nimble sites.
E-commerce has been nothing short of a revolution, electrifying industrial investors while reshaping facilities, supply channels, site selection and more. One thing’s for sure: this isn’t your father’s industrial real estate sector.
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Sentry Commercial Property Management Division’s 10 Tips for Your Emergency Procedures Manual
Commercial property owners and managers can’t take it for granted that emergency procedures will be widely known or adhered to when the need arises.
That’s why it’s imperative to create an “emergency procedures manual” for the management and employees of your properties.
This becomes the basis for the plan of action that keeps tenants and properties safe while also ensuring that regulatory statutes are adhered to and owners and representatives avoid liability.
Here are 10 critical tips that rank high within any emergency procedures manual
1. While fire extinguisher inspections are a given, it’s important the manual includes locations and procedures for safe use, such as when to use and when not to use them.
2. In addition to signs being posted for extinguisher locations and exits, a map of your building with exit and fire extinguisher locations should also be included in your manual.
3. Defined evacuation procedures and the designated onsite personnel who will conduct the evacuation and/or coordinate with emergency services are key.
4. Procedures during electrical outages where protocols for things like stranded elevators/passengers, procedures in adverse weather conditions, handling health emergencies and tenant/emergency services communication protocols are vital to both tenant safety and owner liability.
5. Go beyond posted routes and procedures during electrical outages and adverse events i.e. fire) to outline procedures for assisting those with mobility and health conditions.
6. Manuals should include all points of electrical, gas ,and water shutoff in the event of emergencies like fire, flooding and other incidents.
7. Well-defined protocols for handling and reporting injuries to staff, tenants, and visitors. This includes protocols based on injury type and severity. This is critically important for insurance and liability purposes.
8. Manuals should include updated onsite personnel with first aid training and the locations of stocked first aid kits.
9. Designated personnel should be instructed on how to deal with criminal activity. This includes emergency service contact numbers, protocols for dealing with tenant and occupant safety and designated safe spaces.
10. Designate procedures for tornado and hurricane evacuation to onsite or community designated shelters with information and procedures for designated civilian supervisors and transport if necessary.
Not every scenario or possible emergency can be predicted or covered in your emergency procedures manual, but creating policies for the most common types of occurrences can help make sure you and your staff are prepared!
Sentry Commercial’s 5 Tips for Commercial HVAC Maintenance
HVAC systems can be an expensive investment in your property regardless of any repair and maintenance lease arrangement you negotiate with your tenant(s). That’s why it’s in your best interest to be actively involved in general maintenance and visual inspections to ensure the longest HVAC lifecycle and tenant comfort. Here are 5 Tips for commercial HVAC maintenance that can help you achieve that goal.
- Be vigilant about air filter maintenance and utilize the highest ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers) MERV rated filters possible.
- Document which filters are needed and how often they need to be replaced for each system. Record each time new filters are installed.
- Conduct visual inspections of your system, regularly recording results, and report any issues such as leaks, water damage and unusual odors that could signal future mold growth.
- Keep detailed documentation on all equipment, parts, repairs, and maintenance to ensure continuity if you switch HVAC professionals.
- Ensure your HVAC professional provides a checklist of all procedures they complete in a full maintenance inspection.
Professional checkups in the spring and fall will encompass far more in-depth inspections. To make the most of these inspections, property managers should speak regularly with tenants. This is the best way to identify any unusual sounds, smells, or operational issues with the HVAC that might be useful knowledge for your HVAC professional.
It’s very common for all – besides the most seasoned commercial property owners and managers – to lack a longstanding relationship with vendors like HVAC contractors. While you certainly want to let the professionals do their job, the more you know about your own HVAC system’s history and operation as well as their procedures, the better off you are.
Keep in mind that your goal is to always have a well-tuned and maintained HVAC system. This will lower your utility bills, improve efficiency, prevent safety issues, and reduce the chances of a major breakdown. This ultimately plays a big part in your property value and keeping good tenants for years to come.
Keeping Pace with Rapid Change is a Challenge—and a Must, Says SIOR’s Duclos
SIOR confers one of the most valued designations attainable on office and industrial brokers who earn it. Yet, it does considerably more for its members than simply give them the right to put the acronym SIOR after their names.
SIOR connects the world’s most influential and knowledgeable commercial real estate professionals to countless resources, including education, events, and people. One such way it facilitates connections is through its annual Spring World Conference, taking place April 10-13 in Washington, D.C. Mark Duclos, president of Sentry Commercial and President-Elect of SIOR, takes Connect Media readers behind the scenes.
Q: The industrial market is evolving rapidly, from both a user standpoint and a technology/design standpoint. What do industrial brokers need to do in order to stay current, and how does SIOR help them do this?
A: One of the biggest challenges in brokerage today is keeping current on all the changing needs and priorities of our clients. The e-commerce revolution, the refinement of logistics, and the acceleration of automation (thus efficiencies) in the warehouse and manufacturing process are just a few of the items today’s broker needs to understand. Technology has certainly played a central role in these changes, both from an operations standpoint (how our clients operate their facilities), and from the standpoint of how clients use technology to make facilities decisions (availability of suitable labor, cost of labor, operating expenses like utilities). Not to mention, how brokers use technology to serve their clients.
SIOR continues to play a significant role in our members’ careers by providing consistent, valuable content on industry trends and forward-looking insight. This is accomplished in many ways—through educational classes, website portals, webinars, specialty practice groups and content and education provided at our local chapter meetings and events, regional conferences and world conferences, just to name a few.
Q: The Spring World Conference is coming up in April. How is this year’s content especially timely?
A: There are so many moving parts in our world right now that it is impossible to cover all the “timely” issues in a two-and-a-half-day event. That said, at our conference in Washington, D.C., we have content that covers a number of cutting-edge topics. These topics include: how demographics affect our future; the future of transportation; urban development (where our cities are headed); real estate sales tax strategies; how to do business with the GSA; emotional intelligence; investment; and industrial national market updates. All these topics affect our members and their clients every day!
Furthermore, “content” is not limited to the formal presentations, speeches and roundtables. Content includes the exchange of ideas and information among leading brokers from around the world.
Q: One of the key themes in this year’s conference is change. How can SIOR membership help brokers to navigate and thrive in a changing environment?
A: If someone tells you they know exactly where we are going and how we are all getting there, then I would turn around and run! The reality is that none of us know exactly where this is all headed. However, SIOR leadership and its members, collectively, spend countless hours seeking insight from corporate America, industry (and non-industry) thought leaders, strategic partners, industry experts etc. on what they are doing, the tools they are using to get there, and the tools they believe they will be using in the future. Whether it’s how our world is affected by automated intelligence, automated cars, edge computing or remote manufacturing, we are talking with those in the know, and developing insight that will help our members make educated decisions that will enhance their business.
Furthermore, and just as importantly, we continually develop better ways to deliver that message to our members, tailored to their specific interests.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just getting started in commercial real estate?
A: Whether they are with a local, regional, or international brokerage firm, I would first and foremost tell them to open their eyes beyond the market they are in. Far too many times I see practitioners believe their universe is limited to the immediate area they practice, but it’s not. Your practice will be affected by events, trends and people that are not located in your market.
The second piece of advice would be to focus on your client. All too often I see practitioners spending most of their time finding new business, instead of taking the time to take care of the business (clients) they already have. Brokerage has changed drastically in the 33 years I have been in it. It used to be about doing deals. And, while we all still need to “do deals,” we only “do deals” if we are taking care of our clients.
Lastly, because we need to serve our clients, find a brokerage firm that provides you the tools you will need to support the services you require to serve your clients. We aren’t writings deals on the back of napkins anymore, but there are still some firms that try to. Find yourself a firm that stays on top of… actually no… that keeps ahead of the technology needed to do your business in a professional and productive way.
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Sentry Commercial Property Management Division’s 10 Tasks That Keep Fire Marshalls Happy & Tenants Safe
One of the most crucial responsibilities of commercial property managers (and owners) is to ensure the safety of their tenants in every way possible. When it comes to fire safety, the goal of the annual inspection by the Fire Marshall is to do more than pass. It’s an opportunity to constantly improve in terms of vigilance to keep people and property safe. To that end, here are 10 things that your Fire Marshall shouldn’t have to tell you to do.
1. Fire extinguishers should be inspected annually with appropriate inspection tags attached.
2. Choose a highly rated fire alarm system that is professionally installed and annually inspected and tested.
3. Have a highly rated fire suppression system installed and inspected annually.
4. Flammable or combustible materials storage is forbidden indoors if not contained properly in a designated area – with good reason.
5. Emergency lighting should be inspected regularly to ensure all units are working properly.
6. Make sure that the fire department serving your area has easy access to documented information on all fire alarms and suppression systems as well as building occupants, floor plans and exit locations.
7. Prepare and post escape routes in easily visible places.
8. Conduct annual fire drills that include a request to your Fire Marshal to attend, observe and offer insight.
9. Designate gathering areas for groups during fire drills and actual emergencies. Designate group leaders among tenant, management and maintenance populations and provide instructions/training and easy access to all information like escape routes and plans that they will need.
10. Secure any rugs or carpeting near fire exits and make sure all paths leading to and beyond fire exits are kept clear for safe egress
As a commercial property owner and/or property manager, you have a legal, moral, and fiscal responsibility to do everything in your power to ensure the safety of the property and its occupants. While this list is a sound way to start, the annual inspection by the Fire Marshall is an opportunity to refine and improve upon these features in ways that increase tenant safety and happiness that translates to higher property values.
Start with Someone Who Cares™ is Trademarked!
At Sentry Commercial we succeed when our clients succeed. We believe in our commitment to our clients, our community and our people – and we believe in it so much that we trademarked this commitment!
We’re thrilled to announce the trademark: Start with Someone Who Cares™. We don’t just say it…we LIVE it! It’s the core of our company.
Sentry Commercial Property Management Video Surveillance Basics
Commercial property owners have far-reaching responsibilities that affect their tenants, physical and intellectual property, and the general public that may enter that property.
That’s why surveillance systems play a major part in reducing liability while helping to meet a variety of legal and regulatory compliance statutes.
While owners with seasoned property management support can rely on their experience in dealing with surveillance systems and system integrators, owners without this support may be at a disadvantage. But no matter their support, all owners should have at least a basic understanding of property surveillance systems and developing a security plan.
The first step is to develop a video surveillance system plan that will determine the following:
- Security vulnerabilities and identifying key access points
- Size and type of security system to address those vulnerability and access point needs
- Types of security cameras to meet the needs (indoor/outdoor, wired/wireless, infrared)
- Camera placement (coverage area, weather exposure, inaccessibility, lighting and more)
- Monitoring (onsite or off location via internet, in-camera recording or cloud storage)
Depending on the property area or usage case property owners will need a combination of the following:
- Onsite and/or remote security monitoring personnel
- A detailed and documented incident response plan
- Maintenance and regular system checks
- Surveillance signage to meet legal requirements and deter low level vandalism
- A written policy for footage access rights in the event of a crime.
Surveillance video can be important in the event of slip and fall incidents, property damage or theft in terms of investigations and prosecutions of alleged perpetrators. The video recording can be reviewed by the police or provided to your insurance company to defend claims.
Many commercial property owners rely on instincts or a security company to balance video surveillance system budgeting, monitoring, and upkeep. An experienced property management firm can bring collaborative relationships with security firms and system integrators. This can bring the balance of minimum cost with maximum security and legal obligation fulfillment that keeps people and property safe.