By Meghan Hall
Last week, Houston, TX.-based commercial real estate firm Transwestern announced that Jeff Moeller will take over managing the company’s presence in Northern California. Moeller, who has over 20 years of experience in the Bay Area commercial real estate market, plans to build upon the success he has had leading Transwestern’s San Francisco office by growing the firm’s talent base and taking advantage of the area’s changing market. The Registry spoke with Moeller on how he plans to lead Transwestern’s Northern California expansion.
Can you tell me a little bit about your career in commercial real estate and how that experience has helped you succeed at Transwestern?
I started my career in commercial real estate at Cushman & Wakefield, where I learned the ropes of office leasing and the dynamics of the San Francisco market. Then I came back to Cushman & Wakefield through the Cassidy Turley and DTZ roll up, until 2016 when I joined Transwestern. Having spent my entire career in San Francisco gave me insight into the strong technology presence and helped me identify where there were holes that needed to be filled. When I came to Transwestern, I had the freedom to address those concerns, which has made us a more collaborative and successful team.
Can you elaborate more widely on the role that you have played over the last several years as the Senior Managing Director for Transwestern’s San Francisco office?
Leading the San Francisco office has been a very exciting time in my career. We have built a strong team with diverse talents and perspectives so that we can provide a truly holistic approach to each assignment. During my time as Senior Managing Director, we’ve recruited 13 new team members, including Blake Peterson to oversee Asset Services for Northern California. This team has seen outstanding success, demonstrated by tripling our transaction volume and doubling our number of management assignments since 2016. I’m honored to work alongside such talented and driven individuals, and I’m excited to bring the rest of our Northern California team members under one umbrella.
What is your perspective on the current Bay Area commercial real estate market? How has your understanding of the market impacted how you have managed Transwestern’s San Francisco office?
The Bay Area continues to create jobs and, as a result, the commercial real estate market will continue to expand. The metro continues to have some of the highest rents nationwide due to high-profile companies, innovation efforts, major universities and talent. Next year, we will see unprecedented opportunities with the anticipated IPOs of some of the largest tech firms in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
To prepare for these opportunities, we have focused on providing high-quality, personalized service for clients. We found that building owners want the robust capability of a national platform with the flexibility and customized service of a boutique firm. Tenants in this market especially look for advisers who understand the technology and startup growth trajectory, and we have committed considerable time and effort to ensuring we know all the nuances and challenges of running a startup. Our extensive research, which has been regularly featured by The Registry, has made our advisers an invaluable resource to help tech companies and startups maximize their real estate value.
What specific strategies did you implement within the San Francisco office to grow Transwestern’s presence in the Bay Area?
We are highly focused on strategic long-term growth for the organization, which includes ensuring we are operating efficiently and productively. This required a recent assessment of our personnel to add capacity in specific areas. For example, we have hired key players including Blake Peterson, who has galvanized our position as a full-service brokerage firm throughout the region, and the appointment of Peter Conte to lead our biotech practice in the Bay Area. The complement between brokerage and asset services is an important differentiator for Transwestern, and we plan to continue leveraging that to drive value for clients.
What are your recruitment goals?
Transwestern is committed to hiring the right people who fit our unique culture. Our experts must be top-notch talent to provide the level of service Transwestern promises its clients. As we look to expand our headcount over the next year, we want to recruit individuals who appreciate our collaborative approach to real estate and exhibit an entrepreneurial mindset. We have big plans for 2019, and we are attracting an energetic, talented crew to help propel us toward those goals.
Tell us how you will work on growing the Transwestern brand and services across the region? Will the company take an organic growth perspective or look even to acquire teams in order to expand its base?
The most important thing that we can do to grow our brand is to attract and retain the best talent in the market to serve clients with a winning line-up of professional real estate service providers. To continue the growth we’ve enjoyed recently, we are primarily focused on recruiting individuals and teams, but we are always open to M&A opportunities that are a strong cultural fit with Transwestern.
As Transwestern entered the region a few years ago, it focused on breaking into the East Bay, with Silicon Valley and San Francisco following that. How will your focus on the entire region prioritize your goals, and do you see more energy spent in one specific submarket over others?
We have a healthy footprint in the East Bay, Silicon Valley and San Francisco, and we’ve had success in the North Bay this year. Blake and I are San Francisco market experts, so that makes it a natural target. However, many of our clients in San Francisco have locations throughout Northern California. We want to leverage and expand those relationships to earn more business in other areas of the region as well. Specifically, we see significant opportunity in the life science and biotech space.
Are there specific geographic or service areas where you are looking to grow?
We are intently focused on continuing to grow our management and leasing portfolio, which has seen significant growth through the valuable guidance of Blake Peterson, who we brought on in May to oversee our Asset Services initiatives. We are targeting San Francisco, the East Bay and Silicon Valley, where we see the most potential opportunity to grow that portfolio.
What are some of the key short-term goals for Transwestern’s Northern California operations?
We are streamlining our internal operations, so we can efficiently and effectively pool our talent resources throughout the Bay Area to provide creative and customized solutions for clients. Many of our clients have locations throughout the Bay Area, and this cohesive approach allows us to collaborate across disciplines and markets to serve our clients holistically. A simple example of that is physically relocating our Oakland team to our Walnut Creek office to solidify the East Bay team. We are in business for the long term and are making decisions today to ensure that success.
In any business these days, a company has to be able to differentiate itself from the competition. In a market that has the national and global attention, such as the Bay Area does, what will differentiate Transwestern from other brokerage houses?
We identified a need in the market for a company that provides the scale and resources of a national platform with the ability to provide customized, flexible solutions and practices to meet the needs of each unique assignment. Transwestern has struck that balance perfectly and is exactly the right fit for clients seeking a fine-tuned and tailored service approach. Under private ownership, Transwestern is inherently nimble and can quickly adapt to investment strategy and market dynamics. This flexibility allows us to keep our clients’ needs at the forefront of everything we do and consistently deliver on what we promise.
If you are a landlord or an end user looking for space that will fit my specific needs, I want to work with Transwestern because…
We provide better service through a collaborative, entrepreneurial, people-driven and client-focused approach. All brokerages know buildings and market stats, but we are dedicated to being real estate business consultants for our clients in every sense. We want to help clients build their businesses by making smart real estate decisions. In short, there are no silos with our clients, everyone of them has access to every service in our team. In many ways they don’t realize that they even need them until we present the different option and inputs.
I am a broker in the industry, and I want to join Transwestern because…
Our culture. We are purposeful about creating an environment that is collaborative, entrepreneurial and, quite simply, a great place to be. We have numerous community service events a year where team members give back to the amazing communities we serve, such as our annual charity golf tournament that raised almost $20,000 this year. Our young professionals have a dedicated group that coordinates professional development and networking events, including an evening boat cruise recently, and NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences. We believe that being a best place to work makes us the best place to do business. We recognize that when our team members enjoy the office atmosphere and culture, they provide the best service to clients. That is the true value for our people and perspective team members; we put the clients first in all ways.