My New Normal: Newburger-Andes Chief Investment Officer David Andes
This series aims to capture a moment in time, talking to men and women in commercial real estate about how their lives and businesses are being transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.
David Andes likely hasn't met an Arby's he didn't like. Nor a Dollar General, a Dollar Tree, an Advance Auto Parts or even an O'Reilly Auto Parts.
Andes is chief investment officer with Atlanta-based Newburger-Andes, a 45-year-old real estate investment firm with a $500M portfolio that includes hundreds of tenants.
Newburger-Andes operates both a commercial real estate investment platform and a brokerage operation. While the firm owns close to 3M SF of flex office space, Newburger-Andes may be better known for its triple-net investments — mainly stand-alone retail stores backed by strong corporate credit tenants. The firm's syndicated funds involve some 900 private investors.
The firm has operated for most of its life from a small office building overlooking the immensely busy Interstate 285 ring around Metro Atlanta. But since the pandemic, Andes and his staff have done business another way — from bedrooms and balconies at their respective homes.
Bisnow: Describe your work-from-home life.
Andes: I wake up every morning and take my dog out. I then come upstairs and start my day. I do all my calls and meetings through Zoom and have been very successful connecting with my family, friends, co-workers and also my clients with Zoom. The meetings have been easy, and I don't have to spend hours per day driving around the city to have in-person meetings. Zoom is actually a much better way to have a meeting than going in person.
Bisnow: How are you transitioning your life and business to the homefront?
Andes: It's been tough because I am on the phone all day, and my wife and I live in a high-rise building, so we have very limited space. Typically, my wife stays in the other bedroom all day and I work in our main bedroom. I have a Sleep Number bed that transforms into a very comfortable couch.
Bisnow: What is the state of your business at the moment?
Andes: Our business is struggling like all other businesses. We will get through it and we will become so much better as a company. This situation has really made me look carefully at all of our expenses.
Bisnow: What is your greatest business concern right now?
Andes: We have over 1,000 tenants and we do not know how many will pay in the month of April. Also, our brokerage operations have been paralyzed because we are not able to leave the house to show space and meet our clients. Our brokers are all in their homes working. Many of our sales have fallen through because of this.
Bisnow: What was your lowest low and highest high these last few weeks?
Andes: My lowest point was when I finally saw that our income would be devastated in the month of April. It really made me quickly focus on getting our expenses significantly reduced.
Bisnow: What are you doing at home to keep your sanity?
Andes: I am taking care of my pregnant wife. She is six months pregnant and we have twins on the way in late June. A boy and a girl.
Bisnow: What have you learned about your business or the industry in the last few weeks?
Andes: That although we have been in business 40-plus years, we have to be very cautious with our spending. We need to build up a lot more cash reserves.
Bisnow: How do you think the coronavirus could permanently affect the way real estate does business?
Andes: It will make our business remote. You will see office spaces shrink in half because of this. Our society must learn and be able to fully operate remotely.
Bisnow: What are you most hopeful about today?
Andes: That my wife stays happy and healthy and that my economy and my real estate business recovers this year.