5 Questions With Cawley Partners CEO Bill Cawley
Cawley Partners CEO Bill Cawley is a no-nonsense kind of guy. We sat down with the broker-turned-developer who's developed 1.8M SF along the Dallas North Tollway for a rapid-fire round of five questions about some aha moments in his life and what’s ahead. (And don't miss Bill speaking at our Future of the Platinum Corridor event Mar 31!)
Bisnow: Bill, did you ever have a moment in your career when you knew commercial real estate was where you really needed to be?
Bill: There was. Early in my career as a broker in the mid-'90s, I was part of a one- or two-person company. TGI Friday’s hired me to help with a 100k SF corporate HQ relocation. After that, I felt that I could compete. It built confidence in me as a person and as a broker. That one thing changed my view of me and my direction. At the time, there wasn't a lot going on and the market was really soft, so it was a big deal for me to land. It had nothing to do with the market perception, but my view to believe that I can do this.
Bisnow: How did you move from broker to developer?
Bill: I cut my teeth as a tenant rep broker, traveling all over the country for technology companies. It allowed me see a lot of different markets and submarkets. I would go look around a market for buildings and find maybe five or six in a submarket that could be profitable. I’d look a year later and see that those same buildings had been leased. My experience as a broker gave me a good view of what buildings should be bought and where there may be opportunities to invest. It caused me to start looking. My first one was in the suburbs of Chicago. I bought a building based on seeing activity and how the market had changed. There had been many buildings available and then it was down to just two or three. I bought one and leased it up. It was a great transaction and hooked me to invest. My passion became investing and developing.
Bisnow: What’s your take on the DFW market and what’s to come?
Bill: I think the market has peaked and the better part of the cycle is over. I think the market will slow and in five years, I think the business will be considered somewhat of a down cycle, but not dramatically down. This cycle has been running five to six years and been really prosperous, but we should be in a dip soon. I think I'll be actively buying real estate then.
Bisnow: When you’re not working, what occupies your time?
Bill: I have 12-year-old boy/girl twins. I’ve tried to coach all my kids' sports, but they're getting to the age where there’s no opportunity to do that anymore. Outside of my family, my other passion is that I love to play golf. I play at Preston Trail. (We asked him his handicap, so maybe this should be six questions with Bill.) I’m a 12. Golf is the only thing I don’t do fast. It is a getaway for me and a very social experience. I’ve been as low as a 9 handicap. When the market is bad, I'm better at golf because I play more. It’s very therapeutic.
Pictured: Bill on left with Servant Energy Partners’ Ruben Duron.
Bisnow: Who has been your mentor?
Bill: That would be my dad. He died two years ago. He was my best friend and my mentor; he guided my view on relationships and business. I was really close to my dad and learned a lot from him. He told me to focus on the relationship and not the money. He was in real estate in a small town in Illinois. It was a big decision to leave my family business to come to Dallas, but I wanted to go play in a bigger arena and Dallas offered that.