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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Transwestern Eastern Region President Bruce Ford

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.

Transwestern President Bruce Ford's career has followed the trajectory of the Southeast: As the region grew, so did Transwestern's Eastern Regional Office under his leadership.

Since taking over a decade ago, Ford has spearheaded the growth of Transwestern's Southeast portfolio from 5M SF to more than 20M SF, and that portfolio now encompasses cities outside of Atlanta, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Nashville. Recently, Transwestern broadened Ford's role to include managing brokerages in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

The graduate of Wake Forest University was once named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle's “Power 50” – a list that denotes the 50 most powerful commercial real estate leaders in the metro area. Ford also serves on Transwestern's executive committee and is a member of its board of directors.

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Transwestern Eastern Regional President Bruce Ford

Bisnow: What is your favorite part of your job?

Ford: It’s being able to work with all these terrific people at Transwestern. At every part of our company, every team member shares a culture of care, respect, integrity and commitment. We are all rowing in the same direction to provide the very best for our clients, and supporting each other in delivering that performance.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Ford: Working in the rare books department of the library at Wake Forest. Boring! 

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

Ford: Growing up, I always thought I would be an architect or urban planner, but I am not sure I have the vision. Now, if I wasn’t in commercial real estate, I think I would pursue a career as a professional business coach and speaker. 

Bisnow: What deal are you proudest of?

Ford: I’m most proud of our team’s recent win of the leasing and management assignment at Georgia Pacific Center in Atlanta. This 1.3M SF project will be undergoing a complete ecosystem change, and we are playing a significant role in that. It took every discipline within our office to collaborate together and provide the ownership with a highly thoughtful, creative and well-developed strategy, merge that with their plans, and concur on a plan and a program which will deliver something extraordinary at GPC. It’ll be fun and rewarding to watch it unfold.

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Transwestern Eastern Regional President Bruce Ford and his wife

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

Ford: Our management-led buyout of the firm back from St. Joe. We overleveraged and gave up too much control of the firm, and bad wiring led to bad results. Fortunately, we were able to sell it again right before the Great Recession.  

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Ford: People that talk a big game about what they are going to do instead of doing it. 

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Ford: My travels with my wife. We love to travel to all parts of the world learning along the way as we indulge in enjoying the experiences of different cultures and history.

Bisnow: What motivates you?

Ford: The people I work with and for, as well as our clients. I want to do my best for our team members, and in turn, they will do their best for our clients. It’s a winning strategy.

Bisnow: What advice do you wish you got when you started in CRE?

Ford: I had great mentors. They gave me so much advice and help. I was lucky.

Bisnow: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Ford: I know I was taking a big risk when I borrowed my Dad's Z100 and took it for a spin without him knowing it and of course he knew the mileage.

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Transwestern Eastern Regional President Bruce Ford and his familiy

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Ford: My five children. It doesn’t matter how old they are, you always think of them and the adults they are growing into. 

Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?

Ford: Tokyo. A fabulous city with fascinating real estate. 

Bisnow: Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

Ford: Make-A-Wish [Foundation of] Georgia. It’s a blessing to be able to be on the board and to help this organization in any way I am able to. Make-A-Wish has such a great mission helping children and families enjoy a special time in their lives.

We need more resources to fill the backlog of wishes. I am proud of how Transwestern has supported MAW and its mission. 

Bisnow: What CRE trend do you think will have the most impact over the next few years?

Ford: The meaningful analysis and application of big data to deliver readily achievable value and actionable information to investors and users of commercial real estate.

Bisnow: What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Ford: Maybe the fact that I have five children and three pups. It’s hectic but wonderful.

Bisnow: What do you want your legacy to be?

Ford: That I imparted the best of what I have learned in business and in life to my fellow team members, those that I mentor and my children. I also want to be known for treating everyone with kindness and grace and an example that giving back to one’s community is our calling.