Broker Spotlight: Zac Buckley

How did you become interested in commercial real estate?

Before I began my career at Crunkleton, I was working as a banker/financial advisor. One day, Wesley called me—I’d known him for a few years—and he asked me if I’d be interested in joining his team. I met with Richard and Wesley both to discuss the business. After a few days of thinking it over I decided to dive in, and here I am today.

What do you enjoy about your job at Crunkleton?

The process of negotiation is something I’ve always enjoyed. Whether it’s a lease or sale, helping two parties come to a mutually beneficial agreement is very rewarding. It’s not about putting a tenant into a space and just moving on to the next deal. It’s about looking at all of the facts, knowing what’s ahead, and determining where my clients will find the most long-term success. Landlords and tenants have to be on the same page and working together for everyone to be successful.

Zac Buckley

What challenges do you face on the job?

Allocating my time and resources so that each client gets due attention is something that takes effort. I have to constantly make sure that I am working efficiently and understanding what leads are worth pursuing. I also have to make the lease or sale process as smooth as possible. It’s all about using your time effectively and not chasing deals when there are signs on the front end that it won’t be beneficial for your client.

You specialize in retail brokerage, what does that entail?

In the retail sector of commercial real estate, you are dealing directly with shopping, dining, grocery, and much more. I work with a lot of developments that are anchored by grocery store chains like Kroger and Publix. Even the service tenants within the development—like hair salons and insurance businesses—are considered retail real estate. It’s my job to put together a successful tenant mix that allows both the landlord and business owners to be profitable.

Crunkleton has brokers that focus on specific types of commercial real estate to ensure we are experts in a particular area. It keeps us hyper-focused on a specific market.

What do you do to stay on top of your game?

For retail brokerage on a regional and national level, staying active in the community is important. Taking part in events like the ICSC Conference in Las Vegas every year allows me to stay informed about what’s going on with the state of retail. I use that time to connect with brokers and businesses outside of the Huntsville market and bring that expertise back with me to Crunkleton.

What value do you hope to bring to your clients?

When I’m working as a tenant representative, I want to find a place where my client will find long-term success. By understanding terms from both the tenant and landlord side, reviewing the area’s demographics, and knowing their future clientele, I am able to put them in the best position to be around their customer base.

I continually work to know tenants’ specific markets and review current trends so my clients are paying a fair rate. When working for the landlord, I make sure they are getting market rates for their property as well.

It’s also valuable to look to the future when making a deal. A certain location may seem like a good fit for now, but if things are happening there that would negatively affect business it’s my job to steer my client in the right direction. You can’t just think about today, you have to be looking to the horizon—two or three years down the road.

Why is Huntsville an ideal place to work in commercial real estate?

Our city is a rapidly growing market. Huntsville is getting more and more national retail chains interested in the area. We have a good, solid economy that weathers downturn better than a lot of places, and we have a community and local government that is supportive of bringing in new businesses.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in commercial real estate?

If you want to be successful as a broker, you have to be outgoing and remain confident even after you hear several rejections. If someone told me they wanted to enter into this career path, I’d tell them that it would be beneficial to work in property management first. Take a few years to understand the process from that side—learn what goes on after the lease is signed.

Being a property manager would help them understand what lease terms really mean and what’s important to the client moving forward. I also think it would help a future broker make the connections they need with tenants and landlords to build up their network and make positive relationships in the commercial real estate world.

I’d also suggest finding a team that you work well with once you get in the business. The success we have as individual brokers at Crunkleton stems from our work as a team. We are constantly bouncing ideas off each other and helping one another with a deal. We work at it together.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

I enjoy any time I get to spend outdoors. I also love to read and spend time with my family. I’m very thankful for the time I get with my nieces and nephews.

You can contact Zac at zac@crunkletonassociates.com, or by calling 256-536-8809.

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HALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

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Broker Spotlight: Eric St. John

How did you become interested in commercial real estate?

My interest in commercial real estate grew from my passion for entrepreneurship.

As a student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), I was very focused on classes and groups that fostered a future in entrepreneurship. I ended up earning a double major in corporate finance and taxation accounting—that’s the closest I could get to an entrepreneurship degree locally. I was also the President of the Entrepreneurship Club at UAH during my time there.

When I graduated, I was considering a career in private equity or venture capital because it covered many of my passions—sales, networking, mentorship, and dealing with small businesses.

Crunkleton thought that my background, skills, and interests made me an ideal fit for the job. Turns out they were right, and I have been here working in the industry for more than four years.

The job covers all of my interests and even presented me with the chance to experience new ones of which I wasn’t aware.

What were you doing before you joined Crunkleton?

Like I said, I have always had an interest in being an entrepreneur. When I was in high school, I opened my own landscaping business. It started out by mowing lawns but continued to grow into a full-service company that offered landscape and hardscape work. I ended up closing down the company my junior year of college and purchased a retail business in Chattanooga that sold supplies to landscape contractors. After that business venture was complete, it wasn’t long until the opportunity at Crunkleton presented itself.

It has turned out to be a very fulfilling career, and I feel like I have the personality for it. Even as a kid, I made business cards and would visit everyone in my neighborhood to sell whatever fundraiser was happening at school. I’ve never been shy.

What do you love about your job?

It’s not hard to guess that my favorite part of this job is talking to people. Meeting and interacting with a wide variety of people across different industries keeps things interesting.

Sometimes it’s a challenge to match up two totally different visions for a property, but it’s also fun to make it happen. When you get everyone on the same wavelength, you know you are about to accomplish something great.

Eric St. John

What makes Huntsville a wonderful destination for new business?

Huntsville is a great spot for growing businesses because it is so well connected. The workforce is also well educated and we have seen significant growth in a number of industries here.

You specialize in office leasing—what are some recent projects you’ve worked on?

First, I will say that all deals are rewarding in different ways. Some are plain and simple and some require different negotiation tactics and terms. That’s another thing that’s enjoyable about the job.

Most recently, I worked on a very involved project with Dr. Uptagrafft and Innova Primary Care. Being a part of the project every step of the way made it one of the more comprehensive transactions I’ve worked on. I was able to help them with selecting an architect, determining the right foundation of financing, and choosing a contractor that fit their needs.

I think the final product turned out very well. We were able to take their original vision and build upon it to create something everyone was excited about.

What do you find most rewarding about your career?

The most rewarding part is seeing projects come to a conclusion. Whether it’s a large-scale job where we update the entire space or a smaller project, I like to ensure the whole process runs smoothly. I consider myself a quarterback for every deal, and I make sure the right professional team is put together for each transaction.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in commercial real estate?

I’d give the same advice I give anyone who is considering this career. You have to be dedicated, motivated, and patient. If you aren’t patient, this isn’t for you because business doesn’t happen overnight. You have to stick with it and know you are going to encounter problems. You can’t throw up your hands and walk away. Work through them and understand commercial real estate careers are a long-term personal investment.

What do you do to stay on top of your game?

The most important thing I do to grow my skillset is consistent networking. I maintain my network and I’m constantly asking questions about new businesses and industries. By taking the time to dig deep and figure out how different businesses operate, it helps me improve.

What value do you hope to bring to your clients?

When doing business with a client, I like to make sure we approach everything in a logical way and ask plenty of questions. I do my best to make sure things are handled in a way that always benefits them. We may need to do things differently than they have been done before. Just because the traditional approach has worked for others, doesn’t mean it always will. I want to make sure they are protected and every deal is handled with care.

What do you enjoy doing outside the office?

Food! I am a big foodie and I love traveling to different cities and trying new dishes. Experiencing new places, meeting new people, and asking questions is something I am always up for. And of course, I enjoy hanging out with my friends. But really, I love anything to do with food.

I’m on the board of Care Assurance Systems for the Aging and Homebound (CASA) and currently serving as the Secretary. I’ve been a part of CASA’s board for three years and it’s an organization that’s near to my heart due to my own personal experiences.

2017-2018 Alumni Association Board of Directors (Photo Credit: UAH Alumni Association)

I’m also involved with the UAH Alumni Association where I’m the First Vice President and serve as Chair of the Career and Professional Development Committee. The largest task of the group is to start a formal mentorship program for alumni-to-student interaction. This gives them a chance to work directly with professionals in the field and gain valuable work and professional experience.

My passions are mentorship and giving back, and I follow through with that by staying involved in these organizations.

You can contact Eric by email at eric@crunkletonassociates.com or by phone at 256-536-8809.

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HALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

Broker Spotlight: Anusha Alapati

How did you become interested in commercial real estate?

That’s an interesting story—I sort of fell into it. When I graduated college I was offered a job at my great uncle’s company, Yedla Management, that develops hotels across the Southeast. I became very interested in the development side of the business and he suggested that commercial real estate might be something that would fit me. He was right.

I wake up every day feeling blessed to be in my position. It’s challenging, fun, and very rewarding.

Anusha Alapati

What do you love most about your job as a commercial real estate broker?

Being able to help the City of Huntsville grow and thrive is something that never gets old. We are a big city with a small-town feel, and it’s amazing to watch new businesses be supported by the community with such enthusiasm.

Even the challenges are enjoyable—they can end up being the most fun. Creating retail synergy is a giant puzzle, and I have the privilege of thinking through those challenges and helping produce something out-of-the-box, memorable, and highly successful. And of course, the relationships I’ve built through my position have been a major highlight.

What makes Huntsville a wonderful destination for new businesses?

We are starting to see the urbanization of Huntsville as our city is embracing the live, work, play lifestyle. Like I said, the support that the community gives is unmatched. Huntsville is on the rise, and new concepts are welcomed here with open arms.

The city shares a passion for development and growth, and that’s reflected in the way we encourage new business ventures. I hope to bring more interesting retail concepts to the Rocket City.

You specialize in retail leasing—what does that mean?

Focusing on a particular area of commercial real estate is something that differentiates Crunkleton. We have brokers that specialize in certain types of leasing, allowing them to stay hyper-focused on a specific side of the business. My specialty is retail.

I understand the landscape of boutique, restaurant, and specialty retail leasing and what it takes to be successful in those areas. It’s something that has always clicked with me and it’s where my passion is.

What projects have you found especially rewarding?

That’s too difficult to answer; every project is unique. I do love the challenging projects, because they make you stay on top of your game and expand your skillset. You are never stagnant in this line of work. It requires you to keep growing.

That being said, it has been a privilege to be a part of the revitalization of Downtown Huntsville. Wesley Crunkleton did an amazing job of executing his vision for The Garage at Clinton Row, and I was given the opportunity to lease the development. Working with Charlie and Sasha Sealy on The Avenue was also an exciting undertaking because it was one of the first large-scale mixed-use developments in the downtown area.

But it’s not just about downtown, projects like Central Park Village, 2700 Capitol Park in Tuscaloosa, and the chance to work with retailers in expanding to other cities has been very fulfilling too.

Anusha worked on major Downtown Huntsville projects like The Garage at Clinton Row. Here she is in her favorite dress from Elitaire Boutique, a tenant at The Garage!

What piece of advice would you give to someone considering a career in commercial real estate?

It takes grit, persistence, leaving your comfort zone, and developing meaningful relationships to be successful.

Be ready to work hard. It involves constant research and putting yourself out there to make sure the job is done.

How do you stay on top of your game?

In this business, you have to stay ahead of the trends. What do people want? Where do people want to shop? What experience can you deliver to a retail consumer that leaves a lasting impression? I am always researching trends—Business Insider, Forbes, Shopping Centers Today, you name it. I also attend major conferences like ICSC and I travel to research new concepts.

It’s important to understand how millennials live, work, and find entertainment. Trends change rapidly and are vastly different today than 5 years ago, or even 2 years ago.

What value do you hope to bring to your clients?

I want to ensure a seamless process and be a resource for them. I want to be there to connect them to the people and assets they need for a prosperous business. Watching my clients grow and flourish is why I do what I do.

Enjoying a day of fly fishing in Blue Ridge, GA.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

Staying active in the community is important to me, which is why I try to spend my free time volunteering with organizations like Mayfair Inner City Church and Junior League of Huntsville. I’m also a member of Committee 100 YP and a newly elected member of the Huntsville Museum of Art Foundation Board.

I also love fly fishing, spending time with my family, my boyfriend Matt, and my dog Charlie.

You can contact Anusha by email at anusha@crunkletonassociates.com or by calling 256-536-8809.

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HALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM