Today we are highlighting a Houston VoxLink Partner, Thompson Green with GRI Commercial Real Estate. Thompson has a wealth of both commercial real estate experiences as well a restaurant management background. It’s a unique mix that allows him to serve the needs of many tenants in the Greater Houston area and beyond.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Thompson a few weeks ago and are excited to add him to our growing community of experienced and high-quality tenant representatives.
Tell us a little bit about how you got started in commercial real estate…
I got started in commercial real estate after 13 years in the restaurant industry with Pappas Restaurants. I worked my way up through the ranks during and post-graduation and achieved a GM position within the Pappasito’s Cantina concept. When I decided to explore a career outside of restaurants, I asked several former colleagues who had made the switch and transferred into commercial real estate. They had made successful transitions because there are a lot of transferable skills between the two.
That’s not the usual path into the CRE business, how does it impact your approach?
If you have ever worked in a restaurant, it’s extremely high-paced and exciting. It’s also a ton of pressure. You are juggling multiple moving pieces, working diligently to ensure customers have a great experience and that along with knowing how to execute are the two best skills I took away from my time there. I bring that hustle-first, straight-shooter and execution-based approach to my clients.
Where did you start in commercial real estate?
I broke into the business with the local firm Yancey Hausman, and then moved to a national platform with Studley. From there, I moved to Mohr Partners where I worked on the Corporate Services side of the business and managed portfolios of real estate, consisting of 25-300+ locations across the US and Canada.
Did you start off in Tenant Representation?
Yes. I found that most brokerage professionals work on the Landlord side to get their feet wet. I’ve been a Tenant Rep my whole career and I truly believe it’s an advantage. Working on behalf of the end-user is my passion and I believe it shows with my clients and efforts over my 15 year career.
Some of the problems in our industry stem from the “refer” down model that pushes deals from a corporate office in another state down to a local office here, which has the effect of reducing the motivations for the local broker just by virtue of keeping things in the same brokerages ecosystem. Being able to work with complete independence gives me the freedom to focus only on my client’s interest and the reason why I started GRI.
Let’s talk about GRI; pretend I am a Tenant, what is your approach?
So GRI is me, you’re not getting referred to anyone; you get Thompson Green and my undivided attention and effort. I start with a needs assessment which allows me to provide you with the full landscape of your best options in short order. Once we have alignment then we will move to do a more formal market study. This process allows me to get you to the answer you are looking for fairly quickly, thus allowing you to return to your focus on your company.
In fact, my first deal I did for Tenavox was completed in just a couple weeks because I knew exactly what fit the client best which allowed me to finalize the lease in a really efficient manner. Streamlining that process of understanding what’s available, what’s affordable, etc.… is what I am delivering to my clients.
GRI is great because it allows me to control the culture, methodology and time I put into my clients deals which is everything I have. The GRI difference is you get me, 100% of the time. It is also the speed to market, I’m here and you’re the priority.
Give us an example of a challenging deal you just completed
GRI was engaged to locate and facilitate an expansion that would create a modern space, defining it as the “flagship” facility for the company. Two locations were identified. The challenge faced was that the landlord broker represented both properties, but with different ownerships. Thus the broker knew where we stood as two proposals were being traded. I protected my client and we worked on the improvement allowance side and term length of the deal, which were focal points to my client. We ended up with a shorter term lease with an increase in TI allowance. This trade shaved off 3 years of commitment placing more dollars into the space. The end result was a deal that packaged additional square footage, increased TI allowance, decreased rent term expense and provided desirable flexibility as my client grows their business.
How is the market, what are you looking for?
The Office market has turned into a Tenant market, pure and simple. Concessions are abundant; TI Allowances have increased and abated rent is being considered and shopped. It’s a good time for tenants. I’m advising clients to renew early and shop the market as Landlords are fighting for deals and are competing with the abundance of Sublease space on the market. Tenants are in the driver’s seat forcing Landlords to make deals to increase their occupancy.
Furthermore, newer buildings are far more efficient from space planning and parking ratio perspectives. We did a deal where we saved 10,000 SF from a planned 38,000 SF need with efficient space planning and parking ratios.
There is plenty of sublease space with large floor plates, but it’s tough to split, so direct is usually best for smaller tenants. Make sure to work with someone whether it's GRI or other experienced tenant representative you can trust. It’s essential to understand how to get a deal that meets your economic and space objectives.
Does this impact a Landlord in your opinion if someone hires you?
No, Landlords want to work with brokers; they appreciate the knowledge and efficiencies a tenant representative brings to the table on behalf of the tenant. Tenants need to understand that Landlords employ their own broker (a fiduciary for their side), so without a tenant rep, you are leaving yourself open to not meeting your economic and space requirement objectives. Most tenants are not well versed in current market trends for concessions being offered, how to create flexible lease options and reasonable parking ratios which can affect your desired square footage. Tenants don’t usually think that in depth because they are focused on their core business, GRI does. Landlords appreciate that because they know we’re bringing real value and understand the market realities.
Thompson is the founder of GRI Commercial Real Estate and serves the needs of Office and Industrial tenants all over Texas, he is located in Houston. You can reach Thompson at: