Life at Sentry Commercial
Why Industrial Strength is the Real Story Behind E-Commerce
Technological innovation has led to industrial transformation and a renewed race for space.
“Industrial design-build and spec development is at an all-time high throughout the country,” Mark Duclos said.
WASHINGTON, DC—The e-commerce effect on retail business may still get most of the headlines, but commercial real estate pros recognize the impressive impact on its behind-the-scenes counterpart. GlobeSt.com spoke to Mark Duclos, president-elect of the SIOR board of directors and president of Sentry Commercial, a Hartford, CT-based real estate advisory firm, to discuss industrial real estate strength and dynamics, from supply chains and site selection to labor pools and data centers.
“E-commerce has redefined logistics,” said the 30-year CRE veteran and past president of SIOR’s Connecticut chapter. “There’s been a huge impact on supply chains and logistics as it relates to air, ocean, trucking, rail and intermodal facilities. There’s really been a whole A to Z effect certainly on real estate, but also the modes of transportation and how product is delivered.”
Duclos noted that the overall national industrial vacancy rate last year was 4.3 percent, the lowest ever recorded. Meanwhile, rents rose 7.4 percent. Investment volumes also confirm the momentum. According to Duclos, there has been a 29 percent average annual investment increase in industrial real estate in the past five years versus only 1 percent average annually for the preceding 20 years.
“Industrial design-build and spec development is at an all-time high throughout the country,” he added. “There’s literally no long-term over-supply. There are a number of markets where vacancy is less than 2 percent, but typically you have a lot of supply in the pipeline in those markets, albeit not enough to keep up with demand.”
E-commerce site selection, including “last-mile” deployment, is really about proximity to the customer base, highway access, quality of real estate and labor pool. According to Duclos, “The first four are most critical by far. The cost of real estate, while certainly important, is fifth or sixth down on the priority list.”
Product needs have generally been high-bay, cross-dock facilities, but with last-mile delivery a priority, Class B space has moved up on investor radars. The demand within the sector, coupled with the general race for space in and around population centers, has spurred alternative site selection trends. To be near their customer base, e-commerce firms are increasingly looking to adaptive reuse and multi-story facilities.
Developers have had to change how they design spec facilities, and not just tweaking height and depth. How developers account for trucks at fulfillment centers is a major change.
The dynamic e-commerce drivers are such that entire asset classes have been transformed. Cold-storage space is actually becoming a market in of itself because of online grocers, said Duclos. And data centers are taking more of an edge computing approach, shifting total reliance on distant mega-facilities to more local and nimble sites.
E-commerce has been nothing short of a revolution, electrifying industrial investors while reshaping facilities, supply channels, site selection and more. One thing’s for sure: this isn’t your father’s industrial real estate sector.
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Sentry Commercial Property Management Division’s 10 Tips for Your Emergency Procedures Manual
Commercial property owners and managers can’t take it for granted that emergency procedures will be widely known or adhered to when the need arises.
That’s why it’s imperative to create an “emergency procedures manual” for the management and employees of your properties.
This becomes the basis for the plan of action that keeps tenants and properties safe while also ensuring that regulatory statutes are adhered to and owners and representatives avoid liability.
Here are 10 critical tips that rank high within any emergency procedures manual
1. While fire extinguisher inspections are a given, it’s important the manual includes locations and procedures for safe use, such as when to use and when not to use them.
2. In addition to signs being posted for extinguisher locations and exits, a map of your building with exit and fire extinguisher locations should also be included in your manual.
3. Defined evacuation procedures and the designated onsite personnel who will conduct the evacuation and/or coordinate with emergency services are key.
4. Procedures during electrical outages where protocols for things like stranded elevators/passengers, procedures in adverse weather conditions, handling health emergencies and tenant/emergency services communication protocols are vital to both tenant safety and owner liability.
5. Go beyond posted routes and procedures during electrical outages and adverse events i.e. fire) to outline procedures for assisting those with mobility and health conditions.
6. Manuals should include all points of electrical, gas ,and water shutoff in the event of emergencies like fire, flooding and other incidents.
7. Well-defined protocols for handling and reporting injuries to staff, tenants, and visitors. This includes protocols based on injury type and severity. This is critically important for insurance and liability purposes.
8. Manuals should include updated onsite personnel with first aid training and the locations of stocked first aid kits.
9. Designated personnel should be instructed on how to deal with criminal activity. This includes emergency service contact numbers, protocols for dealing with tenant and occupant safety and designated safe spaces.
10. Designate procedures for tornado and hurricane evacuation to onsite or community designated shelters with information and procedures for designated civilian supervisors and transport if necessary.
Not every scenario or possible emergency can be predicted or covered in your emergency procedures manual, but creating policies for the most common types of occurrences can help make sure you and your staff are prepared!
Sentry Commercial’s 5 Tips for Commercial HVAC Maintenance
HVAC systems can be an expensive investment in your property regardless of any repair and maintenance lease arrangement you negotiate with your tenant(s). That’s why it’s in your best interest to be actively involved in general maintenance and visual inspections to ensure the longest HVAC lifecycle and tenant comfort. Here are 5 Tips for commercial HVAC maintenance that can help you achieve that goal.
- Be vigilant about air filter maintenance and utilize the highest ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers) MERV rated filters possible.
- Document which filters are needed and how often they need to be replaced for each system. Record each time new filters are installed.
- Conduct visual inspections of your system, regularly recording results, and report any issues such as leaks, water damage and unusual odors that could signal future mold growth.
- Keep detailed documentation on all equipment, parts, repairs, and maintenance to ensure continuity if you switch HVAC professionals.
- Ensure your HVAC professional provides a checklist of all procedures they complete in a full maintenance inspection.
Professional checkups in the spring and fall will encompass far more in-depth inspections. To make the most of these inspections, property managers should speak regularly with tenants. This is the best way to identify any unusual sounds, smells, or operational issues with the HVAC that might be useful knowledge for your HVAC professional.
It’s very common for all – besides the most seasoned commercial property owners and managers – to lack a longstanding relationship with vendors like HVAC contractors. While you certainly want to let the professionals do their job, the more you know about your own HVAC system’s history and operation as well as their procedures, the better off you are.
Keep in mind that your goal is to always have a well-tuned and maintained HVAC system. This will lower your utility bills, improve efficiency, prevent safety issues, and reduce the chances of a major breakdown. This ultimately plays a big part in your property value and keeping good tenants for years to come.
Keeping Pace with Rapid Change is a Challenge—and a Must, Says SIOR’s Duclos
SIOR confers one of the most valued designations attainable on office and industrial brokers who earn it. Yet, it does considerably more for its members than simply give them the right to put the acronym SIOR after their names.
SIOR connects the world’s most influential and knowledgeable commercial real estate professionals to countless resources, including education, events, and people. One such way it facilitates connections is through its annual Spring World Conference, taking place April 10-13 in Washington, D.C. Mark Duclos, president of Sentry Commercial and President-Elect of SIOR, takes Connect Media readers behind the scenes.
Q: The industrial market is evolving rapidly, from both a user standpoint and a technology/design standpoint. What do industrial brokers need to do in order to stay current, and how does SIOR help them do this?
A: One of the biggest challenges in brokerage today is keeping current on all the changing needs and priorities of our clients. The e-commerce revolution, the refinement of logistics, and the acceleration of automation (thus efficiencies) in the warehouse and manufacturing process are just a few of the items today’s broker needs to understand. Technology has certainly played a central role in these changes, both from an operations standpoint (how our clients operate their facilities), and from the standpoint of how clients use technology to make facilities decisions (availability of suitable labor, cost of labor, operating expenses like utilities). Not to mention, how brokers use technology to serve their clients.
SIOR continues to play a significant role in our members’ careers by providing consistent, valuable content on industry trends and forward-looking insight. This is accomplished in many ways—through educational classes, website portals, webinars, specialty practice groups and content and education provided at our local chapter meetings and events, regional conferences and world conferences, just to name a few.
Q: The Spring World Conference is coming up in April. How is this year’s content especially timely?
A: There are so many moving parts in our world right now that it is impossible to cover all the “timely” issues in a two-and-a-half-day event. That said, at our conference in Washington, D.C., we have content that covers a number of cutting-edge topics. These topics include: how demographics affect our future; the future of transportation; urban development (where our cities are headed); real estate sales tax strategies; how to do business with the GSA; emotional intelligence; investment; and industrial national market updates. All these topics affect our members and their clients every day!
Furthermore, “content” is not limited to the formal presentations, speeches and roundtables. Content includes the exchange of ideas and information among leading brokers from around the world.
Q: One of the key themes in this year’s conference is change. How can SIOR membership help brokers to navigate and thrive in a changing environment?
A: If someone tells you they know exactly where we are going and how we are all getting there, then I would turn around and run! The reality is that none of us know exactly where this is all headed. However, SIOR leadership and its members, collectively, spend countless hours seeking insight from corporate America, industry (and non-industry) thought leaders, strategic partners, industry experts etc. on what they are doing, the tools they are using to get there, and the tools they believe they will be using in the future. Whether it’s how our world is affected by automated intelligence, automated cars, edge computing or remote manufacturing, we are talking with those in the know, and developing insight that will help our members make educated decisions that will enhance their business.
Furthermore, and just as importantly, we continually develop better ways to deliver that message to our members, tailored to their specific interests.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just getting started in commercial real estate?
A: Whether they are with a local, regional, or international brokerage firm, I would first and foremost tell them to open their eyes beyond the market they are in. Far too many times I see practitioners believe their universe is limited to the immediate area they practice, but it’s not. Your practice will be affected by events, trends and people that are not located in your market.
The second piece of advice would be to focus on your client. All too often I see practitioners spending most of their time finding new business, instead of taking the time to take care of the business (clients) they already have. Brokerage has changed drastically in the 33 years I have been in it. It used to be about doing deals. And, while we all still need to “do deals,” we only “do deals” if we are taking care of our clients.
Lastly, because we need to serve our clients, find a brokerage firm that provides you the tools you will need to support the services you require to serve your clients. We aren’t writings deals on the back of napkins anymore, but there are still some firms that try to. Find yourself a firm that stays on top of… actually no… that keeps ahead of the technology needed to do your business in a professional and productive way.
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Sentry Commercial Property Management Division’s 10 Tasks That Keep Fire Marshalls Happy & Tenants Safe
One of the most crucial responsibilities of commercial property managers (and owners) is to ensure the safety of their tenants in every way possible. When it comes to fire safety, the goal of the annual inspection by the Fire Marshall is to do more than pass. It’s an opportunity to constantly improve in terms of vigilance to keep people and property safe. To that end, here are 10 things that your Fire Marshall shouldn’t have to tell you to do.
1. Fire extinguishers should be inspected annually with appropriate inspection tags attached.
2. Choose a highly rated fire alarm system that is professionally installed and annually inspected and tested.
3. Have a highly rated fire suppression system installed and inspected annually.
4. Flammable or combustible materials storage is forbidden indoors if not contained properly in a designated area – with good reason.
5. Emergency lighting should be inspected regularly to ensure all units are working properly.
6. Make sure that the fire department serving your area has easy access to documented information on all fire alarms and suppression systems as well as building occupants, floor plans and exit locations.
7. Prepare and post escape routes in easily visible places.
8. Conduct annual fire drills that include a request to your Fire Marshal to attend, observe and offer insight.
9. Designate gathering areas for groups during fire drills and actual emergencies. Designate group leaders among tenant, management and maintenance populations and provide instructions/training and easy access to all information like escape routes and plans that they will need.
10. Secure any rugs or carpeting near fire exits and make sure all paths leading to and beyond fire exits are kept clear for safe egress
As a commercial property owner and/or property manager, you have a legal, moral, and fiscal responsibility to do everything in your power to ensure the safety of the property and its occupants. While this list is a sound way to start, the annual inspection by the Fire Marshall is an opportunity to refine and improve upon these features in ways that increase tenant safety and happiness that translates to higher property values.
Start with Someone Who Cares™ is Trademarked!
At Sentry Commercial we succeed when our clients succeed. We believe in our commitment to our clients, our community and our people – and we believe in it so much that we trademarked this commitment!
We’re thrilled to announce the trademark: Start with Someone Who Cares™. We don’t just say it…we LIVE it! It’s the core of our company.
Sentry Commercial Property Management Video Surveillance Basics
Commercial property owners have far-reaching responsibilities that affect their tenants, physical and intellectual property, and the general public that may enter that property.
That’s why surveillance systems play a major part in reducing liability while helping to meet a variety of legal and regulatory compliance statutes.
While owners with seasoned property management support can rely on their experience in dealing with surveillance systems and system integrators, owners without this support may be at a disadvantage. But no matter their support, all owners should have at least a basic understanding of property surveillance systems and developing a security plan.
The first step is to develop a video surveillance system plan that will determine the following:
- Security vulnerabilities and identifying key access points
- Size and type of security system to address those vulnerability and access point needs
- Types of security cameras to meet the needs (indoor/outdoor, wired/wireless, infrared)
- Camera placement (coverage area, weather exposure, inaccessibility, lighting and more)
- Monitoring (onsite or off location via internet, in-camera recording or cloud storage)
Depending on the property area or usage case property owners will need a combination of the following:
- Onsite and/or remote security monitoring personnel
- A detailed and documented incident response plan
- Maintenance and regular system checks
- Surveillance signage to meet legal requirements and deter low level vandalism
- A written policy for footage access rights in the event of a crime.
Surveillance video can be important in the event of slip and fall incidents, property damage or theft in terms of investigations and prosecutions of alleged perpetrators. The video recording can be reviewed by the police or provided to your insurance company to defend claims.
Many commercial property owners rely on instincts or a security company to balance video surveillance system budgeting, monitoring, and upkeep. An experienced property management firm can bring collaborative relationships with security firms and system integrators. This can bring the balance of minimum cost with maximum security and legal obligation fulfillment that keeps people and property safe.
Sentry Commercial Property Management’s Snow Removal Safety Tips
Winters without a property manager can be challenging! Keeping your tenants and their visitors safe is paramount!
Proper snow removal and maintaining clear pathways is always a challenge. Property owners have to go beyond just making sure the job is done. They have to make sure the job is done correctly and safely…
SNOW BLOWER AND SNOWPLOW SAFETY
Snow removal planning is just as crucial to safety as is operational knowledge with snow blowers and snow plows. This includes:
- Pre-planning of where snow will be thrown and piled to consider pedestrian and vehicle traffic viewpoints, and avoid access hazards
- Snowblower and plow pre-inspection to remove objects that may cause surface damage or become projectiles
- Inspection of roofs, eaves powerlines and tree limbs that may cause falling snow or ice hazards
- Develop clear protocols for how and when the property will be plowed following a fresh snowfall.
The goal is to clear the way for your tenants without blocking them in with snowbanks or creating a situation where injuries or damage can happen to people, vehicles or property.
SAFE SALTING AND SNOW REMOVAL CONTRACTS
Salting and snow removal contracts can have hidden safety issues that may not be top of mind with commercial property owners. Here are the most important considerations requiring careful planning:
- Avoid excess salt that can be harmful to vegetation and enter water tables
- Have someone on site to monitor snowfall events and the snow removal process for quick problem resolution
- Define all details of the frequency, promptness, and process in third-party snow removal contracts
- Insert a termination clause to avoid major penalties for clear quality or that addresses prompt guideline violations
- Ensure the snow removal process and the contract meet city regulations to ensure safety and legal responsibilities are met or exceeded
Winter property maintenance is a challenging full-time job, which is why many owners turn to an experienced commercial property management firm. They have the track record, contractor partnerships, and experienced personnel to handle these aspects in ways that save you money and keep your tenants happy.
In fact, Sentry Commercial’s Commercial Property Advisors, Property Management Division has been helping property owners with maintenance, management and strategic support since 1984.
Keep these tips in the pack of your mind and stay safe this winter!
Sentry Commercial Construction Management is now an Authorized Mesco Building Solutions Builder
We’re excited to announce that we are now an authorized Mesco Building Solution Builder!
Our team is thrilled about working with Mesco Building Solutions, a leader in pre-engineered metal building systems. Pre-engineered metal buildings are the most cost-effective solution when it comes to schedule and cost.
At Sentry Commercial, we can provide a complete turnkey package including all engineering or we can supply and erect a pre-engineered building on your foundation. For more information, contact us here.
Hiring Michael Parrott to Sentry Commercial’s New Construction Management Division
Sentry Commercial is pleased to announce the hiring of Michael Parrott to its new Sentry Commercial Construction Management Division.
Michael has over 25 years of experience in the business managing client construction needs. His primary focus is marketing and project development with end users, construction companies, Architects, and Engineers.
Sentry Commercial recently opened its Construction Management Division to provide its clients with full, turnkey commercial real estate services, now offering our clients brokerage, advisory, property management, and construction management services. We look forward to working with you!
What is the Sentry Commercial Advantage?
At Sentry Commercial, we believe in a collaborative, caring culture that focuses relentlessly on the long-term success of our team, our clients and our community.
1. A company specifically started in 1991 to change the delivery of locally-based commercial real estate brokerage and advisory services by creating a collaborative culture that leverages the use of technology and collective human capital/expertise to the benefit of our clients.
2. While our competitors can utilize new technology, because their culture operates from an outdated approach to brokerage and advisory services, they can not leverage that technology for the benefit of the broker or, more importantly, the client. (i.e. their culture encourages individualism, not collaboration).
3.CRE brokerage firms use terms like customer-centric, care, collaboration and focus to convey a feeling of trust. At Sentry Commercial, these are the words by which we measure our success. How do we measure success?
- Do we retain our client base?
- Do we receive client referrals?
- Do our service providers have the necessary technological tools to provide timely, accurate data to our clients?
- Are our service providers trained on the technological tools being provided?
- Do our service providers provide the relevant data necessary for them to provide our clients?
- Are our clients being provided the CRE services required to simplify their commercial real estate decisions and maximize their CRE performance?
There’s nothing special about the specific tools we use for constant collaboration. The special part is how we integrate, apply and use them. By giving our CRE team access and control over a true collaboration environment, they can always know and share the information affecting every client.
True client focus requires knowing how information affects clients on a business, regulatory and human level.
It’s vital to show how it impacts them in the region, neighborhood, and street where they work and collaborate with the broader community. We talked about one of many real-world examples in a recent Sentry Scoop blog about our long-term relationship with our client Hands Up.
Few brokerage firms know how to really take advantage of computer networks to make their firm’s culture customer-centric, collaborative and focused.
We’ve created a business culture that makes it easier for people, processes, and technology to work together seamlessly, and that is the heart of the Sentry Commercial Advantage.
You’ll only need to look at our success stories and talk to our clients to see that we are the CRE firm partner you want to work and collaborate with.
Keep this in the back of your mind and let us know how we can help!
Mark Duclos Begins Term as 2019 President-Elect of The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®
During the SIOR Fall World Conference in Denver, CO on October 10, 2018, Sentry Commercial’s President Mark Duclos, SIOR, was installed as President-Elect of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors ® (SIOR).
Duclos will serve a 1-year term on the SIOR Board of Directors this upcoming year and then will begin his term as President in Fall of 2019.
Our team is absolutely thrilled about this accomplishment for Duclos and we’re very excited to see him in action, giving back to the organization he loves and admires!
9 Quick Tips To Achieve The Best Relationships in Real Estate
At Sentry Commercial, the relationships we create are the foundation of our business. Every success story starts with a solid relationship. Instead of just trying to “do a deal”, we develop long-term relationships and assist our clients well beyond any single transaction…
Sounds easy, right?
Although the concept itself seems effortless, it is actually a very long-term approach that requires patience.
Here’s our quick start guide on building relationships in real estate!
1. Join a Real Estate Association
Let’s start off with the basics. Become a part of your real estate industry. Grow a network of colleagues. Colleagues you can trust…Colleagues you can bounce ideas off of…Colleagues you might even refer business.
2. Getting Involved with Your Community
Besides building your own community, it’s important to spend some time focusing on supporting your local one. Take part in charity and volunteer events, town meetings, etc.
This has multiple benefits. It shows you care about your community and it becomes personal and not sales based… Show your community you care about them and they will, in turn, care about you.
3. Get Involved in an Industry Association
What associations do your prospective clients belong to? Be a part of their associations. Get to know them and learn what’s important to them. Because what’s important to THEM is important to YOU!
4. Establish an Online Presence
Think about what your audience values then use different channels to push out your message.
There are 3 online resources that you should take advantage of:
- Social Media
- Online Reviews
Posting good content regularly through social media and blogging will position you as a knowledgeable, thoughtful force.
One thing hasn’t changed. The best type of referral you get is by word of mouth. Obtaining online reviews is priceless.
5. More Openness = More Trust / Give to Get
The more you share, the more informed your clients are, which leads to more trust and more value.
6. Celebrate Every Triumph
Remember to celebrate every triumph – whether it’s related to your relationship or something going on in your associate or client’s life.
A simple sentiment goes a long way, which brings us to the next point…
7. The Little Things
Think about each relationship you’ve created or are just beginning to create. What makes it special? What can you do to nurture and grow it?
Show you value your relationship and you want to keep building on it. Think of the little things because the little things are more meaningful than you realize.
8. Every Relationship is Different
Every single relationship you establish will be different. This is not a “one size fits all” world so don’t approach each client the same. Each relationship is unique so tailor your approach to that relationship accordingly.
None of this works if you don’t care or if you only care about what’s in it for you. You need to care about your client.
Keep these tips in the back of your mind, make the effort, and see what happens!
Helping Folks Who Help Folks
A Hand Up works with Sentry Commercial on a New Lease to Bring it Back Home
We’re thrilled to share an update with you on one of our most recent projects, A Hand Up’s lease. These folks share the ideals and values of Sentry Commercial, and we’re proud to say we’ve been working together for 10 years.
Here’s what President Michael Fisherman recently told Larry Levere, Director of Sentry Commercial’s Office Brokerage about this experience.
“Again – thank you for getting this lease done. Once again you have done a great job for A Hand Up, and I hope you get to help the new entity far into the future. You have been a great friend of A Hand Up, and we are grateful for all you (and your wife) have done. Keep doing what you do, and we look forward to the future with you.”
A Hand Up is an organization dedicated to helping people transition from homelessness to independent living in the Greater Hartford area.
By distributing and repurposing household items that have been donated, A Hand Up has helped folks in need for over a decade. More recently, in May, A Hand Up began a new partnership with Journey Home’s Making a House a Home Program.
The Perfect Union
The partnership made perfect sense, as the two companies had been working in the same region and helping many of the same clients for a period of time with the overall mission to end homelessness in Greater Hartford.
Two great organizations working collaboratively towards the same goals – that’s right up our alley.
Enter Sentry Commercial
In 2008, A Hand Up signed their first lease for space at 635 New Park, and in 2014, they moved to 93 Talcott Road. During this most recent move, they returned to 635 New Park, so it was a bit of a homecoming for them.
The team at Sentry Commercial was happy to help with this lease and is excited to see what happens next for this fantastic organization.
This was more than a move or a lease, this was real people helping create a positive change in our community, and Sentry Commercial is happy to have been involved.