View From The Clouds: Transwestern EVP Justin Brasell Is Passionate About Skydiving And Skyscrapers
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Whether he is closing million-dollar healthcare real estate deals, skydiving over the Swiss Alps in Switzerland or indulging an infatuation with sports cars, Justin Brasell is an adrenaline junkie.
He remembers having dreams of skydiving when he was a young boy that were never frightening, but thrilling. After turning 18, he went on his first jump and he knew he wanted more. He promised himself that he would find a profession that would allow him the financial stability to continue to pursue this passion.
With more than 100 jumps under his belt, the licensed solo skydiver's day job is leading Transwestern's Houston healthcare brokerage team as the executive vice president. The team, made up of 15 dedicated professionals, leases over 5M SF of medical office space, the most of any other local firm, and has completed over 2,000 healthcare leases in the last five years.
However, it is not just a job.
It is a career that also satisfies another childhood dream — to develop or lease high-rise buildings.
Raised near the Spring and Tomball communities, Brasell said he remembers being fascinated by the skyscrapers in the central business district. He said he knew he wanted to be a part but did not know exactly how to do it.
“I couldn’t wrap my mind around how a 50- or 60-story building [could stand], and not blow over,” he said.
His father, Mike Brasell, worked as a Class-C retail general contractor and introduced him to a few other developers. They advised him to attend college and study finance and real estate. He did and earned a bachelor’s degree and later an MBA from Baylor University in Waco.
After graduating undergrad, Brasell joined Transwestern as an intern in 2007. He has worked on the development and project construction management teams and then as a broker. He said the combination of skills acquired in those roles allows him to provide his clients with a comprehensive solution.
“It is rare for a broker to have operational management experience, typically they come from the finance side,” he said. “But that has given me an education on the nitty-gritty details of property management and running a business ... [I] can look around, ask the right questions, advise [the client] on the quality of the building and the infrastructure and whether it is a good fit for them."
Recently, Brasell's team represented a group of surgeons to relocate their clinic and surgery center to a more suitable location and saved them over $5.5M in occupancy costs throughout their lease term.
The team is also closing a deal to transform a Class-A office building into a 100K SF medical office in West Houston and has secured an undisclosed buyer.
But, what is a journey without a few challenges?
For Brasell, he said he had to become more patient and seek help from mentors.
“I wanted to be where I am now two years into the job,” said Brasell, who is also a co-owner of Hurts Donut in Katy. “I had to step back and get advice and wisdom from other people in the industry.”
He said many young professionals need to treat their 20s as a time of learning and should embrace the process.
“It takes years to become an expert," he said. "When the industry recognizes you as an expert then the work will follow.”
He suggested aligning with three to five people in the industry you admire. The potential mentors should be well-respected, good at their jobs and offer an infinite pool of wisdom. He said it took him years to establish and build those relationships.
“Mentorship isn’t promised,” he said. “A lot of millennials, which I am too, expect mentorship. But, you are not entitled to a mentor. Mentorship is a massive sacrifice for them to take time out [of] their day for you.”
While mentorship is a critical key to his success, Brasell also credits the support of his wife, Abby, for his ability to have a strong family and career.
He said once they started a family his grind went to the next level working longer hours than ever before. The couple married in 2012 and have three young daughters, Blakely, Brooklyn and Brynlee.
"We are going to take a breather," he said. "It's been a crazy season, but we will probably get to four eventually."
With three kids and counting, Brasell's days of skydiving are becoming less frequent. He said he promised his wife he would stay out of the sky — unless it comes to leasing skyscrapers.