Executive of the Year:
D CEO’s Commercial Real Estate Awards
By CHRISTINE PEREZ
March 21st, 2013 6:59am
D CEO created its Real Estate Executive of the Year award to recognize the vital role that these industry leaders have in Dallas-Fort Worth. After all, along with the projects they develop and the deals they broker, they’re also CEOs of hugely successful companies themselves. They’re a driving force in the success and growth of the North Texas economy.
Here’s a look at the three finalists:
Ralph Hawkins, HKS Inc.
HKS Inc. is a true Dallas success story. Launched here in 1939, it now has 30 offices and more than 900 employees. HKS has designed iconic structures around the world, and some a little closer to home—like Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, the W Hotel and Residences, and Cowboys Stadium. The company has always had a strong commitment to Dallas. In the late 1990s, HKS was one of the first companies to move its corporate headquarters to Uptown.
Having now outgrown its space, and with Uptown thriving, the firm now hopes to spur redevelopment momentum in the Central Business District with a move to One Dallas Center on Pearl Street. Not only does it fill up a huge chunk of vacant space, but planned renovations will take a distressed property and turn it into a valuable asset for the city of Dallas.
Under Ralph’s leadership, HKS has flourished, even during the economic downturn. The firm responded by embarking on an acquisition tear, initiating new practice areas, and investing in technology. As Hawkins says, “Extreme challenges can create great opportunities.”
Jack Matthews, Matthews Southwest
The CEO of Matthews Southwest has had a profound effect on southern downtown Dallas. A native of Canada, Matthews didn’t share biases other developers had, and led pioneering efforts there with South Side on Lamar. Projects since then include Gilley’s, South Side Studios, where the television showDallasis filmed, and the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel, where Matthews is now working on bringing in four new restaurants.
Last year was another active year, with the opening of the NYLO Dallas South Side—and the acquisition of 157 acres for a new $1 billion mixed-use development in Prosper, a project that’s sure to transform Far North Dallas.
But it’s not just what he does, it’s how he does it that makes Matthews stand out. He is known for creating quality projects where everyone involved wins. The developer has high praise for his adopted hometown, especially the sunny weather and the friendliness of North Texans. “The attitude of the people here—it changes you,” he says.
Steve Lieberman and Alan Shor, The Retail Connection
Steve Lieberman, left, and Alan Shor
Steve Lieberman and Alan Shor joined forces in 2003, intent on creating a company that would reinvent how landlords and tenants work together—intent on making the connection at every point where retail and real estate meet. Thus the name, The Retail Connection, which formally launched in January of 2004.
“Our approach to running TRC is totally collaborative, as we completely appreciate how connected every aspect of our business is,” Lieberman said. “Our core focus is and always will be driving the expansion plans of our retail clients; everything we do serves to extend the reach of their real estate programs.”
Today, The Retail Connection has 92 employees, represents 235 retail and restaurant clients and more than 25 million square feet of retail projects. Through affiliates, it’s also a retail developer and investor and per their tenant-driven investment collaborations, they have acquired 1.3 million sf of centers and triggered over 3 million sf of new developments in the past 18 months. It’s also in the capital business and, in the past year alone, saw the successful IPOs of two of its portfolio companies. In 2012, it opened an office in Austin and grew both its headcount and brokerage business by an impressive 20 percent, representing its clients in $1 billion in transactions, including monetizing over $200 million of TRC’s own investments.
“Our competitive advantage starts with our team, clients, and culture,” Shor says. “The TRC team is deeply connected to our retail clients.”