|About 18 months ago, The Weitzman Group’s namesake, Herb Weitzman, saw the writing on the wall: reinvent, or follow the economy down. So, TWG set up Cencor Solutions in anticipation of repositioning by the banks and the capital markets. So, did the company survive? (This is as close as we come to a cliffhanger.)
Well, these men certainly look employed. The statewide platform provides a solid business base, says prez Marshall Mills, here with Herb (right) and colleague Scott Freid. Herb says TWG is gaining market share, and it's seen an increased call statewide for its services from banks, through their REO groups and special servicing agents, to lease or manage distressed centers. The management division is in the sister company, Cencor Realty Services. TWG acts as a receiver for many of the special servicers in Texas, as well as serving as their sales agents. Everyone is working a little harder and a little longer, because we're growing, Herb says.
We snapped one of the firm's most visible marketing efforts: 1,200 signs around the Metroplex alone (this one’s by a former Home Depot in Denton). Herb says TWG gets 1,300 calls a day from these signs. Weitzman has maintained its rate of 900 leases a year in the state. Being a regional company, it's focused on its five Texas cities (clients include 200 major retailers), which are never more than 45 minutes apart by plane, he adds.
Marshall, Herb, and managing director Bob Young. Herb notes that TWG also reinvented operations in its many divisions by changing the reporting process for leasing in metro areas into quadrants(rather than one large area), giving brokers more understanding of what works in their areas. The brokers can get to know retailers in their quadrants better, Herb tells us. Weitzman now has leasing responsibility for more than 45M SF of centers, with Cencor property managing a portfolio about half that size.
Marshall says Cencor’s asset managers are a lot like developers in today’s world: they’re running the properties and making economic decisions, negotiating, renegotiating leases, reinventing a center, or taking existing assets and working to enhance the value. Marshall believes 2010 will be a difficult year (“In the game of recovery, we’re in the third or fourth inning”) but says it’ll keep its centers occupied and work with tenants. TWG last year replaced all lost income in Cencor-managed centers with new tenants.