Fun Facts about Lee Hester:
Favourite Restaurant Downtown: Italian Kitchen
Favourite Weekend Getaway: Whistler for snowboarding
Drink of Choice: Beer
Favourite item purchased on shopping trip with Shelley Hilliard: Red High Top Converse Shoes
Lee Hester is an award winning member of Cushman & Wakefield's Industrial Sales & Leasing Team. He has worked at Cushman for 23 years, starting in research and is now the VP of Industrial Brokerage in the Vancouver office. A member with CREW for over 3 years, Lee was first introduced to the organization by Hendrik Zessel, Cushman's Senior Managing Director of Brokerage in Vancouver.
Lee was the winner of our recent Membership Draw for a makeover experience with Shelley Hilliard. He participated in a full day of shopping with Shelley, visiting stores such as Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen and The Bay in Vancouver's Pacific Centre.
Q. What was your reaction to winning the draw?
"My initial reaction was to give it back because I felt it was a strange thing for a man to win and I felt a little guilty winning it knowing there were so many women in CREW. Then I spoke to my wife and we thought what a great opportunity, one that I wasn't even aware was available to me. So I said, I'm going to take advantage of it and I did."
Q. What did you think about Shelley's style and her picks for you?
"First of all I was a little nervous. I wasn't sure what to expect. We threw about one-third of my clothes away which was unnerving at first but she was honest, made me feel relaxed and comfortable which was the pleasant surprise of the day. We had a great time - we fought about what I should and shouldn't wear and in the end she won. The ultimate test is my wife and she loved everything Shelley picked out."
Q. How have you benefitted from being a member of CREW?
"While I know many women in the [real estate] business, I meet more women every time I go to a CREW event. It's nice to be connected to the female segment of the market because they know me through CREW. I stand out because I'm a guy - I'm known as one of the few men who belong to CREW."
Q. How do you find female leadership is promoted through corporate policy at Cushman & Wakefield?
"I think Cushman & Wakefield does an excellent job in the equality arena. We have hired a lot of women over the last several years. We have female brokers, including Anne Tanner, who is the Managing Director of our Victoria office. We are a global company and we do a very good job of including women in our business. However, I think there is a real place for women in our industry, particularly on the brokerage side. We don't have a lot of female brokers in our city and I don't know why that is. I think the time is right for more females to enter the brokerage industry and I would personally like to see more females in the brokerage industry. I think that's where CREW can really help."
Q. Tell me about your role at Cushman & Wakefield. How long have you been in industrial leasing and sales?
"I've been with Cushman & Wakefield for 23 years. I am 45, so I started when I was very, very young. I was in research for the first 18 months of my career. I've been in industrial real estate for 21 plus years and I am currently a Senior Vice President at Cushman & Wakefield."
Q. How has the industry changed since you started?
"The industry has dramatically changed since I started. It has become very competitive and is also a lot more professional and polished. The brokerage community is overall very educated and is now a mature industry. It used to be like the Wild West and now it's very organized. Many people from outside Vancouver comment on how professional and knowledgeable we are as an industry."
Q. What drew you, initially, to the industrial sector over the other options (e.g. retail, office)?
"When I started I wanted to sell big office towers. I gravitated towards industrial because I felt like there was more opportunity. Industrial is more straightforward and I feel more comfortable in this arena."
Q. What is your take on the South Fraser Perimeter Road and how it has impacted industrial leasing?
"I think the South Fraser Perimeter Road is a game-changer. It has altered how industrial users see Delta and the Tilbury Industrial area. It is an intricate part of the terminal, Deltaport, South Fraser River, Surrey docks. It is a major infrastructure upgrade to the region and allows us to compete with other markets, particularly Seattle. We have already seen price and lease rate increases due to the road and renewed interest in the Tilbury industrial Park."
Q. What can you tell us about the market direction and what areas are most in demand for industrial spaces?
"The industrial real estate market is at a high-water mark. Our values, sales prices, land costs are at a historic high. Our capitalization rates are at historic lows. The industrial market on an investment side is very healthy. I would describe the leasing side of the market as active to mild. It is not as busy as the sales side of the market; leasing still has some challenges."
Q. One of our initiatives at CREW is to reach out to students and young people who are interested in getting into real estate. We are interested in your experience – how you got started, your education, and so forth. What advice would you give to someone starting off in brokerage?
"I would advise them to start off in a research capacity with a reputable real estate firm because it is an excellent training ground. School may give you the tools, but research will give you the knowledge to be familiar with the market. I think it would be very difficult for you to jump into a commercial real estate role without a research background."
Q. What skillsets do you think are most important to brokers?
"I think the most important skillset is the ability to listen. Most people would say that it is the ability to talk, but I think brokers need to listen."
Cushman & Wakefield is a Pinnacle sponsor of CREW Vancouver and is one of the leading real estate firms globally. Through their extensive market knowledge from a platform of professionals, Cushman & Wakefield offers a full spectrum of services including leasing, sales and acquisitions, debt financing, project and property management, consulting and valuation advisory services across various asset types.