124 Years of Excellence
Joe Lauberth, president of Roofing Services and Solutions (a division of Tecta America), has a packed schedule, and he’s happy about it.
Roofing Services and Solutions, or RSS, is an elite multi-state commercial roofer. They’re in the midst of “roofing season,” so every minute is spoken for.
With clients like Boeing, Monsanto, Barnes Jewish Hospital, Washington University, and Sigma-Aldrich, they provide top-tier service to some of the region’s largest organizations.
As a first-call contractor for the Department of Energy, they completed a recent project in New Mexico. They’re also in the planning stages for an upcoming assignment at the Idaho National Lab.
Lauberth says, “We’re known for our professionalism. It’s who we are.”
Started in 1895 by Christian Young, the St. Louis company expanded considerably under the leadership of his son, William.
Eventually, RSS became part of a diversified portfolio of related businesses. But the profitability of the roofing division attracted Tecta America in 2018.
Tecta America is a commercial roofer with over 70 locations and 3000 carpenters throughout the US and Canada. They saw that Lauberth managed it expertly and profitably, deciding to purchase it as a subsidiary.
Tecta’s acquisitions team told Lauberth, “This is the easiest due-diligence transition we’ve seen. We’re not coming in to fix anything.”
St. Louis City Industrial Warehouse Space
Joining with Tecta meant RSS would be separating from a holding company that had several other divisions. It needed its own space to operate effectively. Plus, it was growing—four new employees already, with more to come.
Together with Regan Trittler of Mohr Partners, Lauberth set out to find a long-term lease that would allow them to grow.
RSS had three specific needs:
- Approximately 9000 square feet of office space.
- A warehouse big enough to contain both their construction materials and a truck crane.
- Outdoor storage for trucks, roof kettles, and tear-off carts.
Additionally, Lauberth wanted to keep a similar commute for employees. RSS headquarters have been at Vandeventer and Chouteau near the Grove neighborhood for over fifty years. The location was perfect for employees traveling from as far west as Troy and as far east as Belleville.
After three months of looking, it seemed as if nothing on the market would fulfill all three criteria. They expanded their search to Overland and Westport, but still found nothing suitable.
Fortunately, Trittler’s colleague, Meade Summers of Hilliker Corporation, let him know about a unique South City property. Lauberth and Trittler were optimistic.
Room to Grow
In 1994, Summers joined two of his long-term real estate clients to form Conway Partners. Together, they purchased an office and warehouse investment at 3810 Paule Ave in South St. Louis City.
Built by Georgia Pacific, the structure is an 80,000 square-foot masonry building. It sits on 10 acres of land, much of it fenced-in.
A long-term manufacturing tenant was getting ready to vacate 9000 square feet of office space and 45,000 square feet of warehouse.
Lauberth said, “It had a nice office area, a lot of warehouse — more than we really need right away — and then really attractive outdoor storage as well. It was convenient to the highway and had all the components we were having a really difficult time finding.”
On Lauberth’s recommendation, Tecta America signed a ten-year lease with Conway Partners for 54,000 square feet of office and warehouse space at 3810 Paule Ave.
Positioned for the Future
About Summers, Lauberth said, “Meade and the Hilliker team were great throughout the process.” Speaking of Summers and Conway Partners, he said, “Meade knew we needed certain things, and they were very accommodating.”
As of the publication of this article, RSS and Conway Partners have nearly finished customizing the leased space. They’ve updated the office area, installed new carpet, painted the walls, and added additional fencing.
They also modified a warehouse door so RSS can park its crane truck inside.
Planning to move to the new space the week of August 19, the building gives RSS a chance to grow into their new partnership with Tecta. Lauberth says, “This is a place we can stay for a long time.”
St. Louis’s Industrial Real Estate Experts
If your business is experiencing rapid growth, are you putting off finding a space more suited to your needs? Are you concerned you don’t have time right now for “one more thing?”
That’s why so many St. Louis organizations choose Hilliker Corporation. As the entrepreneur’s choice, we know the market intimately. We come alongside you, professionals and consultants who help you save time and make the right choice.
Find out why so many St. Louisans trust Hilliker Corporation with their search. Call us today.
Making an Investment in St. Louis City
Matt Masiel, one of St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 under 40,” is invested in the success of downtown St. Louis.
A native of Perryville, MO, Masiel attended Vanderbilt University and received his Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering. After graduation, he entered the US Army, serving as an engineer in the 101st Airborne Division—The Screaming Eagles—and was deployed during the Iraq war from 2003 to 2004.
Discharged with honors from the army, Masiel and his wife made St. Louis their home. He obtained his MBA from Washington University, then went to work for US Bank and Stonehenge Capital. Through his work in the financial industry, he developed a specialty helping clients put together financing inclusive of Historic Tax Credits as well as real estate tax abatements.
Seeing his clients succeed, he became fascinated by the process. Masiel believed that, with a little education, he could leverage his background in banking to structure similar deals for himself. Then, with his experience as an engineer, learn how to oversee property rehab.
Screaming Eagle has been looking to rehab historic buildings into multi-family apartments. After working on a deal in early 2018 with Summers, Masiel found himself scrolling through other properties Summers had listed on the Hilliker website.
One caught his attention. It had an exciting history, and he thought it would be a perfect match with his vision for St. Louis real estate.
Historic St. Louis Real Estate Investment Property
In 1884, Washington University purchased a parcel of land at Locust and 19th Streets from the Unitarian pastor William Greenleaf Eliot for $1.
Soon after, the University built a one-story brick school on the site. When later making plans to unify its campus, Wash U demolished the school building. The board then commissioned architect Preston J. Bradshaw to design a new mercantile building as an investment.
Bradshaw had already designed a small-scale building near the site on Locust, which was quickly becoming known as “Automobile Row,” and would go on to develop The Coronado Hotel, another St. Louis landmark.
The building at 1815 Locust Street was purchased by George Weber, Sr., of The Weber Implement and Automobile Company, which sold farm implements, buggies, wagons, and a variety of early automobiles—most notably the short-lived Hupmobile.
George Weber’s company became the St. Louis area’s preeminent Chevrolet dealership. They eventually sold the building in 1993 to tire wholesaler Tire Mart, but the building at 1815 Locust earned a spot on the National Registry of Historic places as “The Weber Implement and Automobile Company Building.”
Historic Tax Credit, Property Renovation, and an Innovative Plan
When Masiel and his team toured the building at 1815 Locust, they saw a historic property that had been well maintained by its owners, Tire Mart. Though he knew it would likely have lead paint and asbestos issues, Masiel and his staff knew they could handle the abatement along with any other age-related problems.
Screaming Eagle Development put a contract on the building in early 2018, acquiring it with a loan from Midwest Regional Bank.
Screaming Eagle will be using government-based financing program HUD 221(d)(4), which allows investors to take out a low-cost fixed-rate loan to convert spaces for moderately-priced multi-family rentals. The project is also eligible for Historic Tax Credits.
Screaming Eagle Development purchased 116,000 square feet at 1801-1815 Locust Street for $3,200,000 from Tire Mart Realty, LLC, represented by Meade Summers of Hilliker Corporation, on June 10, 2019.
Fresh Future for a National Treasure
Masiel is currently working with Vince Ebersoldt of e+a architecture, Pinnacle Contracting, and Gershman Mortgage. He’s planning a $21.5 million restoration project, converting the building into seventy individual one- and two-bedroom units with all new windows and custom design work.
The apartments will feature high-end finishes, including either quartz or granite countertops along with stainless steel appliances. They also plan to provide high-speed Internet, common area entertainment, and secure parking (among other amenities) for their residents.
Screaming Eagle plans to begin construction in late 2019 and is scheduled to list apartments for rent in December 2020.
Masiel is committed to seeing St. Louis City continue to thrive, having told the Post-Dispatch, “We’re pretty bullish on the apartment market downtown.” And a little less than a month after closing on this most recent deal, he was giving of his time by volunteering at Fair St. Louis, continuing to do whatever he can to help his city succeed.
St. Louis Tradition, Innovative Solutions
Hilliker Corporation has served St. Louis since 1985, having brokered over 10,000 transactions. As the area’s largest locally-focused commercial real estate broker, we know our region intimately. From new construction to historic properties, we help our entrepreneurial clients become part of a great tradition.
If you’re ready to buy, sell, or lease commercial real estate in the St. Louis area, Hilliker Corporation is poised to help you find the property that suits your unique needs, plans, and dreams.
I was in my early-30s when I got started in Commercial Real Estate. That was over thirty years ago! Then, as now, newer Brokers teamed up with more experienced Brokers to learn the ropes. That’s when I met Wallace McNeill.
Wallace was the first person to show me how to do the work of a Commercial Real Estate Broker, and he was the right guy to do it. He maintained a golden reputation, consistently showing himself trustworthy through every transaction.
He was also a hard-worker. I’ll never forget his advice to me: “Jake, be pleasantly aggressive.” Then he showed me what he meant by his actions. He worked hard, doing all he could to get the best deal for his client without being pushy. He wanted to leave a legacy of kindness and fairness.
Now, as someone who has had the privilege of closing over 500 retail, land investment, office, and industrial transactions, I’ve tested Wallace’s advice thoroughly and passed it on to others.
I’ve also gotten to work with a team of tremendous Brokers who have a similar code of ethics. Over and over again, I’ve watched them work to create win-win deals on behalf of their clients.
I’ve discovered what separates great Real Estate Brokers from the rest. If you’re an entrepreneur getting ready to look for Commercial Real Estate, here’s how to choose a Broker who will guide you successfully through the process.
Quality Real Estate Brokers are experts at property valuation.
No one wants to pay too much for a property, and no one wants to let a property go for too little. The decision on how to value your property will make or break the deal from the beginning, so getting it right takes experience and know-how.
There are many ways to come up with a price, but savvy Brokers leverage several of them at once.
1. Comp Searches
“Comp” is short for “comparable,” and we look at similar buildings that have sold in the same area as the building in question to figure out it’s worth. This includes mining our internal records of transactions that date back decades, as well as combing the comprehensive industry databases to which we subscribe.
However, this is not an exact science. Commercial Real Estate properties are rarely cookie-cutter, and it can be hard to find a recently sold similar property. Thankfully, this is not the only tool a Commercial Broker has to work with.
2. Collaborative Opinion of Value
Even when comp searches bring up useful results, smart Brokers will turn to their colleagues, knowing they will collectively be aware of current trends, upcoming deals, and other intelligence that will augment their ability to estimate their price.
3. Collaborative Opinion of Value, Part 2
Commercial Brokers aren’t the only people working in the industry who might have a good idea about what a property is worth.
A good Broker will often leverage his network of contractors, appraisers, and other Real Estate professionals to weigh in on the value of a property. This isn’t a one-way street, either. Experienced Brokers receive calls from appraisers as well, and together they form a pool of knowledge that, in the long run, helps clients price their property fairly.
4. An Ear to the Ground
Real Estate trends up and down, just like the stock market. The best Commercial Brokers I know are aware of what’s happening in the community they’re working in.
That’s where a local brokerage like Hilliker has a competitive edge over larger national brokerages. The people in our office are out in the community, reading the local papers, interacting with government officials, and generally aware of what’s trending in our region.
Quality Real Estate Brokers are often (though not always) part of a larger firm.
Though I’ve worked successfully with several quality brokers who are on their own or part of a smaller firm, there are few reasons larger firms have the edge over smaller firms or solo acts.
1. Formal and Informal Mentoring Relationships
As I mentioned before, newer Brokers usually pair up with veterans to learn the ropes. My colleagues have all had a “Wallace,” and I’ve served in that role for others.
More experienced brokers benefit from having newer brokers to work with as well, benefitting from their energy, their curiosity, and their partnership.
2. Established Relationships with Bankers
Banks tend to trust the opinions and work of established Brokers, or at least those who have the backing of an established firm. When choosing a Broker, you want someone whom bankers trust as an industry expert.
3. A History (As Well as a Future)
Most entrepreneurs want to establish partnerships that will last over the course of their career.
I’ve helped new business owners lease their first building, then buy a building, then take on tenants, then retire and rent out their old building to new businesses.
Working with a Broker at an established firm will allow you to build on your mutual successes over time. And if that broker retires, you’ll be able to continue your relationship with people who know you and your history.
4. Better Connections
As a member of a large firm, I keep my colleagues aware of what I’m working on. They do the same for me. That way, we help each other match clients with properties all of the time.
Often, one of us has a client who matches up with a property in a colleague’s portfolio (or vice-versa). Or we’ll be able to pool information we’ve gathered from our connections to help each other out.
5. A Higher Bar for New Brokers
Firms like Hilliker Corporation place high demands on their Brokers. We want to work with the best, and that means we’ve screened potential Brokers on your behalf.
Not only that, larger firms don’t often work with part-timers or people who are splitting their time between other Real Estate disciplines. We do Commercial Real Estate deals all day every day. Brokers from more substantial firms are immersed in doing what you need them to do, not in trying to juggle several other types of transactions.
Quality Real Estate Brokers will present sellers and landlords with a comprehensive marketing plan.
When you meet with a CRE Broker for the first time (and it’s good to meet with more than one), you should ask them what their marketing plan will be. Every situation will be a little different, but here are some elements to look for.
This seems like a no-brainer, but at Hilliker, signage is a big deal. If you’ve ever seen our “big red H” outside of a building, you instantly know the property has space for lease or purchase.
The visibility of the sign, as well as its branding, is an integral part of a Broker’s marketing process. He or she may also send out mailers to local businesses or go door-to-door with brochures.
2. Product Platforms
If you have a space for sale or lease, your Broker should list it on a variety of both local and national platforms. Additionally, if you’re looking to lease or buy real estate, your Broker should be culling options for you from a variety of sources. (We have our own platform here.)
Every Commercial Broker worth his or her salt will make sure as many prospects walk through your space as possible. Besides making sure interested parties get to see what’s available, that person may schedule open-houses for other brokers and business owners who will help them get the word out.
Commercial Brokers who have cultivated a network of business partners, colleagues, and contacts over the years will leverage that network on your behalf. Ask if they have any ideas whom they’ll talk with about your property. They should have an answer shortly into the process.
5. Creative Pricing and Value
If a property struggles on the market, savvy Commercial Real Estate Brokers will modify the price over time or look for other incentives to get buyers or lessees interested.
Are you looking for a Commercial Real Estate Broker? Here’s where to start.
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you probably already have some partners who would be able to help you find a great broker. People who know quality Commercial Real Estate Brokers include:
- Other trusted business advisors
When you talk to your trusted team of advisors, ask for a few options. You’ll want to speak with more than one person before you make your final decision.
And don’t forget to call us at Hilliker Corporation.
With a built-in network of Commercial Real Estate Brokers, you’ll be able to leverage our entire team, no matter which member you choose.
John H. “Jake” Shepley has worked as a Commercial Real Estate Broker for over thirty-five years. After graduating from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Mr. Shepley earned his MBA in Finance from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Married to his wife Carol since 1986, they have three daughters. Jake is excited about life, waking up daily to seize whatever challenges lay ahead.
A Lifelong Dream Come True
Jenny Sturm, a St. Louis native more than twenty years into her sales career, stood at a crossroads. Her full-time job, working in sales for a pharmaceuticals company, had her spending too much time on the road.
Further, she had spent many of her nights and weekends helping her parents with their commercial and residential construction company. By 2018, she had helped them sell off their holdings. Now free to concentrate on her day job, she found she missed the construction business.
As she thought about what she might do next, she unearthed an old dream: to purchase and operate a company of her own.
She began looking for construction companies that were ready to sell. She came across Signature Craft, a commercial contractor that produces, markets, and installs sound-baffles and window treatments.
With an in-demand product, Signature Craft was a solid business model with a bright future. Sturm’s background in sales, marketing, and operations made it a great fit.
Sturm says, “I always wanted to own my own company. I came across the opportunity and said, ‘I can do this!’” Soon after signing the deal, she found out her corporate position was set to be eliminated. Her timing was perfect.
Officially, Sturm purchased Signature Craft on January 1, 2019. Quickly, she realized the commercial warehouse and office space they were leasing was not compatible with her vision for the company.
The Search for St. Louis-area Commercial Office and Warehouse Space
For many years, Signature Craft has been in Rock Hill on Manchester Road in a building owned by the company’s founder. Though Sturm now owned the business, the building wasn’t part of the deal, and she would be leasing the space.
There were a few problems with that. First, the old building didn’t match her vision for the brand. At 36,000 square feet, it was much too large, leaving her team scattered and the building feeling empty.
Second, it was located in a floodplain, driving up the company’s insurance premiums. Third, she wanted to find more of a central location for the business, positioning it closer to a highway. Ideally, it would be no more than fifteen minutes from her home in Webster Groves.
Feeling like they needed to make purchasing commercial real estate for the company top priority, Sturm called her bankers at Parkside Financial, who referred her without reservation to Will Aschinger of Hilliker Corporation.
After consulting with her team, she decided to search for 25,000 square feet of commercial office and warehouse space.
Sturm and Aschinger went looking for property, though there was very little warehouse space that was also zoned light-industrial. They needed to find a creative solution, and Aschinger was up for the challenge.
After touring over a dozen properties in Fenton, Kirkwood, and Westport, Aschinger found a new listing for a building in the Hanley Industrial area that featured everything Sturm and Signature Craft were looking for.
Making a Smart Investment in a Turnkey Commercial Space
When Aschinger and Sturm toured 1419-1423 Strassner, they were immediately struck by how perfectly it fit Signature Craft’s needs.
The building, already zoned properly with the right-sized warehouse, had a small but well-appointed office space. Though the building itself was right at 33,000 square feet, only about 25,000 square feet was unoccupied. The rest was already being leased to McMillan Construction, meaning Sturm could generate income from an existing lease.
Sturm said, “The building itself was really turnkey. The plant manager and I have decided how we’ll lay things out. We considered everyone’s opinions, so all that’s left to do is a little bit of work. Our union carpenters are handling that.”
Buying Commercial Real Estate: A Full-Circle Moment
Sturm says of Aschinger, “It was great working with Will. He made it so easy. I let him lead the way, and he took things from start to finish. I felt confident in his ability.”
As her parents learned she was going sign for her own commercial property, they were encouraging, and Sturm felt like her life had come full circle. She says, “I felt like I got a great deal. The property is only going to appreciate, and it’s going to be my space.”
Sturm and her team found a couple of added benefits to their new location beyond what they hoped for. Since the Hanley Industrial area is full of contractors, Signature Craft will be near both current and potential partners, creating an opportunity for synergy and collaboration.
Second, the staff is excited to be working in a purposefully planned space, and everyone is looking forward to the quality restaurant and shopping options just minutes from their workplace.
Signature Craft hopes to move into their new building by June 15, 2019.
Creative Real Estate Solutions for St. Louis-area Businesses
Are you ready to stop leasing? Would you be better positioned for success if you owned your own commercial warehouse, office, or industrial space?
Hilliker Corporation brokers go to work for you to find creative solutions that meet your needs.
If you’re ready to get started looking for commercial real estate, set up an appointment with a Hilliker broker today.
An American Entrepreneurial Success
In 1912, St. Louis native Otto Aschinger borrowed a book on electricity from the library. After reading it, he hired two electricians to rewire a house for him. He observed their work, making a note of everything they did.
Based on this remarkably straightforward education, he founded Aschinger Electric, which continues to thrive four generations later. Specializing in the design and installation of electrical systems, The Engineering News-Record named them one of America’s top 600 specialty contractors in 2018.
Aschinger Electric has been in the family for four generations. O. Francis Aschinger (Otto’s son) guided the company until his death in 1978. Then, his wife, Zdena, and their three sons took over the business’s ownership and operation. Zdena passed away in 2011, but her sons Eric (president), Jack, and Keith Aschinger guided the company well into the new millennium.
While still heavily involved in the business, they recruited Eric’s daughter, Emily Martin, to take over the position of president in 2015.
A Diverse Business Portfolio
In 1981, the Aschinger family used an Industrial Revenue Bond to buy 4.85 acres and build their own building at 877 Horan Drive in Fenton. The family’s two main businesses have always occupied just over half the building: Aschinger Electric and its sister company, Aschinger Communications. They’ve filled the rest of the building with a variety of tenants over the years.
At first, it made sense to keep property management in-house. However, as the core business continued to expand, property management became a distraction. Eric says, “Our comptroller was just swamped.”
With only a few tenants, it didn’t make sense to bring in a full-time property manager, but they needed someone to collect monthly rent, pay the various bills on the property, find and manage contractors for ongoing maintenance, and fill spaces as they became available.
One tenant in particular, Williams Office Machines, was getting ready to move out after twenty years. Luckily, Eric knew a family member in the real estate business: his distant cousin (second cousin, once removed!), Will Aschinger of Hilliker Corporation.
Extending the Family Business
When Eric called on Will to manage their property in Fenton and its tenants, Will was eager to help. One of his existing clients, LTG Lighting, was looking for space similar to the one Williams Office Machines was vacating. Since the two companies work in the same industry, there was an opportunity for them to forge a mutually beneficial relationship.
Later, Will was able to fill a vacant space with Maggie’s Lunchbox, a restaurant where Aschinger Electric employees (among many others) can enjoy their breakfast and lunch menu.
Now, Hilliker’s Director of Property Management, Donna Williams, deals with the day-to-day tasks of owning the property. Eric has been pleased with the results, saying, “Hilliker has done a great job.”
About his cousin, Eric says, “Will and his team stay on top of our needs, and we’re happy to keep things in the family.”
What Are Your Property Management Needs?
If you are running a business while serving tenants, consider bringing in Hilliker’s property management expertise to simplify your life and increase your effectiveness.
Our brokers can help you find new tenants, structure mutually beneficial lease agreements, and manage your day-to-day task list. If you need Hilliker Corporation’s Property Management expertise, book an appointment with us today!
Steve Benz lost his father to Parkinson’s Disease in 2004. His dad battled the disease for years, and the Benz family gained perspective on the difficulties long-term caregivers face.
With his experience informing him, he saw a need in St. Louis for respite care that would not only be a place for caregivers to leave their loved ones during the day, but a place where adults with disabilities, debilitating illness, or degenerative disease could find real enjoyment and expert care during the day.
In 2005, Benz founded EverLove DayClub in Webster Groves. Open from 7am until 6pm, EverLove provides a nurse and well-trained staff along with intentionally planned activities, physical therapy, and meals for their clients.
Serving approximately 150 families, they work with forty adults a day. Most suffer from dementia, but they serve adults of all ages with various mental and physical disabilities and illnesses.
Their staff dispenses medicine and conducts physical therapy while creating an atmosphere of fun and engagement with arts, crafts, educational programming, personal interaction, and activity.
Steve says, “The human being at every level needs interaction.” While in-home health care provides some of the same services, “It’s not as interactive. This is something that’s really social.” And since they provide care to adults of all ages, “The older people enjoy the younger people,” and visa-versa.
“We love them, they love us. We know [each of] their caregivers by first name.”
Kathy Nohl, a nurse of 30 years, has been working with EverLove for the last ten years. “I love it. I would not do anything else. I love working with [Alzheimer’s and developmentally disabled patients]. It’s very rewarding … It’s like a family.”
However, EverLove’s lease at 524 South Elm was ending, and it looked like they wouldn’t be able to renew it. Benz needed to make a commercial real estate purchase as close as possible to his original property in Webster Groves in order to keep serving his customers.
Calling on Will Aschinger of Hilliker Corporation, Benz began searching for a new home for his valued clients.
Commercial Real Estate Purchase: A St. Louis Search
Benz described his ideal space to Ashinger. First, they were ready to purchase their own commercial real estate in the St. Louis Area. It needed to be near their current location, so they began searching in Kirkwood, Sunset Hills, and Webster Groves.
Additionally, they needed a large open space for their activities along with bathrooms and a break area.
Meanwhile, Ashinger was representing Baker Medical Group (BMG) who had piece of commercial property for purchase at 8969 Watson Road.
Owned by a husband and wife family medical practice, Drs. Greg and Paula Baker had closed their St. Louis practice and moved to Florida. The building, originally acquired for the couple’s fledgling practice by Greg’s mother Janice, had become a second home for the Bakers over their years there.
The Bakers hoped to rent the building out, wanting to hold on to a property that meant so much to them. Having had a promising tenant pull out of a deal at the last moment, Greg Baker called on long-time friend (and Hilliker president) Meade Summers.
Summers referred Baker to his colleague, Will Aschinger, an expert in the area surrounding Webster Groves. Together, Aschinger and the Bakers listed the building for sale or rent.
As Aschinger considered the building, he thought there might be a chance he could bring his two clients together.
He showed Benz the Baker Medical Group building. Though it lacked the open space needed for EverLove’s business model, it had the right number of square feet, and Aschinger had an idea.
Relief for Caregivers—New Hope for Their Loved Ones
First, Aschinger and Benz contacted Jim Mills of Mills Construction to evaluate the building.
They determined that they could open the exam rooms into one large room to accommodate fifty people. This would mean room to grow from their current forty-person maximum space.
But Benz says the real selling point of BMG’s building is its park-like property and beautiful trees. He plans to add a fenced-in patio so participants can enjoy the outdoors, which most of them rarely, if ever, get the opportunity to do.
“It’s almost impossible in any kind of medical facility to have green space,” says Benz, seeing an opportunity to bring a new level of service to his clients.
Here, for seven or eight months out of the year, the adults they serve (many of whom are too often stuck indoors) could get some fresh air, view nature, and enjoy the outdoors.
For Drs. Greg and Paula Baker, though they had hoped to lease the building initially, they saw a greater opportunity in selling it, leaning on Aschinger’s expertise and advice.
Though the building was originally zoned as a medical building, the language didn’t cover adult day care. Benz and Aschinger worked with Mara Perry, Webster Groves Director of Planning and Development, to put together a request to zone it for use as an adult day care center.
Building on the Past—Looking To the Future
In the end, EverLove Day Club purchased the 3234 square-foot building for $585,000. After renovations, they’ll gain an extra 1000 square feet for their business, giving them room to serve ten more clients daily.
Benz now has control and ownership over his own property, which allows him more flexibility for the future.
As the Supervising Director and Nurse, Nohl looks forward to the move. “It’s got the outdoor space we can use. And we’re moving right off of Watson Road, so it’s really convenient. We’re excited to be in a stand-alone building.”
EverLove successfully opened at its brand new location on June 3, 2019.
Looking to Make a Commercial Real Estate Purchase in the St. Louis Area?
We’re always looking for creative solutions for our clients. Our brokers have experience in seeing the possibilities in a listing, look for the optimal way to serve you and your business.
If your current commercial lease is coming up for renewal, you’re likely asking yourself questions about your next steps, wondering what it’s like to start building equity in real estate instead of paying rent to other people.
You may also like the idea of increasing your income by of taking on a few tenants while building long-term value for your business. If that’s the case, you’re probably in the same situation as most business owners and wondering exactly how to buy commercial property.
Owning your own property offers many rewards, including:
- Budget Predictability: Eliminate the fluctuating costs of certain lease types with a fixed-rate loan.
- Tax Incentives: Take deductions on mortgage interest, property taxes, depreciation, and more.
- Diversify Your Portfolio: Build equity with a real estate investment.
- Grow Your Spending Power: Your property and building is a capital asset, increasing the value of your business, and improving your credit-worthiness to banks and other lending institutions.
- Create Future Value: If and when you sell your business, you can keep the property as an investment, sell it, or pass it on to the next generation.
If you’re wondering if it’s time to buy, here are the questions you can ask yourself and the steps you can take to find the right property for your needs.
Choose an Experienced Commercial Real Estate Broker
Your commercial real estate broker will be your right-hand advocate through the entire process of selecting and closing on a property. Good brokers know how to listen to you and your needs and have a comprehensive knowledge of the area.
You’ll rely on your broker to:
- Match your needs to available property. That’s why capable brokers get to know you to the best of their ability while always keeping abreast of the current market.
- Lend you their experience and counsel as you weigh the risks and rewards of a purchasing a particular property.
- Help you determine if you’re paying the right price for the property in question. We’ll go over all the “comps,” or comparable sales, in the area and help make sure you’re not overpaying.
- Help you negotiate and prepare the contract, structuring a win-win deal. We want to make sure you’re getting the best possible price and protect your reputation in the long run.
- Manage your due-diligence period. Letting a due-diligence item slip through the cracks can be detrimental if you find an issue. We’ll help keep you and your contractors on track.
- Assist you with the zoning process. A competent broker should know how to guide you through the governmental agencies you’re working with, and in many cases will already know many of the officials in a municipality along with the ordinances you’ll need to follow.
Determine Your Location and the Amount of Space You’ll Need
Finding the right place for your business is similar for buying or leasing. You’ll need to ask yourself:
- “Where are we located now?” It’s probably a clue to where you should start searching.
- “How far will my employees, customers, and I have to travel?” Often, when you’ve outgrown your space and are ready to buy, you may have to search outside your current ideal area. As you do so, try to narrow your search to areas you and your employees can reach easily.
If you have fleet vehicles, look for areas with access to major arteries. And if your best customers need to get to your new location, find out where they are and how far they might be willing to travel.
- “How much space do we need?” If you’re having trouble predicting your rate of growth over the next several years, it may not be time to buy property. But if you can estimate what you’ll need, it may be the right time.
Warehousing operations have the benefit of being able to look for fewer square feet if they can find more height. In that case, you may be able to cut down on your footprint, which could be a benefit both to your workers and to your bottom line.
Set Up Financing with a Trusted Bank
First, you’ll need to decide if you’re in a financial position to buy. Remember, without a lease, you’re responsible for 100% of your operating expenses, but as mentioned earlier, that also means a substantial tax write-off for your business.
A great commercial loan officer serves as a valuable member of your team as you start to determine how much you have to spend, including what sort of down payment you’ll need.
If you don’t already have a banker you know and trust, ask mentors who have made similar purchases. Your commercial real estate broker is a great resource as well, and at Hilliker, we have strong relationships with several of the area’s best banks and can help you choose.
Next, you’ll need to determine what type of loan is right for you.
SBA Loans only require 10% down. However, you’ll have to do a lot of up-front work, complete documentation, and fulfill other requirements, including:
- You must use at least 51% of the property for your company within a year of buying it.
- Your company’s net income (after taxes) cannot surpass $5 million in the two preceding years.
- All parties involved in purchasing the property must prove their personal finances fall within specific parameters.
Conventional business loans have many fewer restrictions and (in some cases) offer lower interest rates than SBA Loans. In either case, you’ll need to speak with a great commercial loan officer to help you make the right choice.
Build the Rest of Your Team
Though this is not a complete list, your broker can help match you up with other vital members of your team as needed:
- A top-notch real estate attorney to help you protect your assets.
Though much of a commercial property purchase will be straightforward and handled by your broker, a real estate attorney can help with any rare or unique circumstances having to do with complicated ownership structures, tenant claims, current leases, or environmental difficulties.
- Architects and contractors to help you calculate the need for and the cost of various improvements and renovations. They’ll help you determine if you’re making a wise choice, help you plan for the future, and suggest opportunities for maximizing your new space.
- A reliable Title Insurance Company, which will complete title research for you and make sure there are no issues. They’ll hold your money in escrow and return it to you if the seller doesn’t uphold the terms of the contract or if a red flag comes up. Great title insurance companies will employ legal counsel to help settle disputes as well.
Count the Cost of Adding Tenants
As stated earlier, an SBA loan will require you to use 51% of your building for your own business, but tenants will help you diversify the risks and rewards of purchasing a building. If you see yourself growing in the future, you’ll be able to grow into your building instead of needing to move again.
However, you’ll need to make sure you’ve evaluated the situation before you dive in. Your broker will help determine the credit-worthiness of the current tenants by checking their references. We’ll make sure to ask for a personal guarantee from both the business owner and spouse, if applicable.
You’ll also need to determine if the existing lease agreements are compatible with the value of the building—as well as your monthly mortgage. You’ll need to find out if the tenants will require you to make any future improvements and factor that cost into your budget.
Be Prepared to Complete Your Due-Diligence
When you’ve signed a contract, you’ll have several tasks to complete on schedule to fulfill the terms of your agreement or back out if you have to. Your broker will help you manage the process, but be prepared to be part of getting several necessary steps accomplished, including:
- Obtaining a loan.
- Reviewing and signing documentation.
- Attending to matters concerning the title, zoning, and survey process.
- Reviewing tenant leases.
- Participating in the property inspection.
- Obtaining insurance.
- Other miscellaneous activities.
Are you ready to start looking?
As a Hilliker broker, I’ve had the chance to help many business owners through the highs and lows of purchasing a property. I’ve been able to watch many of my valued colleagues do the same.
Our expertise includes helping you find the right property, negotiate the contract, manage tenants, and guide you through the entire process, beginning to end.
If you’re getting ready to buy commercial property in the St. Louis area, we’d like to be your first call. Get in touch today.
Chris Taff earned and a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration Majoring in Finance with a Minor in Construction Management from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in 2009. He then earned his MBA, with a concentration in Process and Project Management, from Maryville University, in 2013. A valued member of the Hilliker team, Chris specializes in industrial real estate and represents commercial real estate buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants.
Dr. Lindsay Reel graduated from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy in 2006, and has dedicated to herself to working in and managing retail pharmacies. Since entering the field 13 years ago, she’s gained experience at all levels of the business, including as the Regional Director of Retail Pharmacy with SSM.
She recently discovered an exciting opportunity in a growing segment of her business: telehealth.
Projected to be valued at $9 billion by 2022, telehealth provides an Internet-based alternative to the traditional doctor’s office. Companies following this new model employ physicians willing to see patients using Skype-like technologies.
The ability to reach a national scale quickly comes with a problem to solve. Telehealth companies need pharmacies licensed in all 50 states to keep pace with their growing needs, and St. Louis is an ideal location for this kind of business.
As the crossroads of the nation, the city is well-positioned for shipping. Additionally, it boasts a steady stream of qualified graduates from St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
In response to this opportunity, Dr. Reel founded Skin Specialty Solutions.
The new pharmacy formed as Reel obtained an exclusive contract to compound anti-aging and acne creams for Curology, a dermatological telehealth provider based in San Francisco.
With an agreement in hand, Dr. Reel and her business partners went in search of a building to house the company’s operations.
Founding a High-Tech Start-Up in St. Louis
Skin Specialty Solutions set out with very particular commercial real estate needs: a warehouse with several dock doors, lab and office space, and room for fast-paced growth. They also needed a landlord willing to help them custom-convert the space so they could meet stringent pharmacy-licensing criteria.
But they had to move quickly. Beginning the search in late 2018, Dr. Reel wanted to start shipping by April 2019. They required someone who could guide them to an optimal choice, so began interviewing several of the area’s top commercial real estate brokers.
Their search spanned both national and local companies, leading them to Hal Ball of Hilliker Corporation.
KayVee Larsen, Curology’s VP of Pharmacy Operations, helped conduct the interviews. She says, “Hal came highly recommended. Once I interacted with him, I knew he was exactly what Skin Specialty Solutions was looking for: a very effective communicator who really knows the area.”
When Dr. Reel and the team first started looking for real estate, the company believed it only needed about 25,000 square feet. But as the scope of the business plan changed, they knew they would need a building upwards of 40,000 square feet.
By January 2019, they had narrowed their search to two possible solutions. One was in the retail pocket of Earth City. As the parties worked through the details of the lease, they became aware the city would have to change the zoning, putting the deal on hold for approximately three months.
But with an April 2019 shipping deadline, they needed to take occupancy by February 2019. Ball, Reel, and Larsen decided there wasn’t enough time and turned to their second solution.
Skin Specialty Solutions signed a 5-year contract for 48,080 square feet in US Capital Development’s recently built Fenton Logistics Park.
Bringing Jobs and Innovation to Fenton Logistics Park
US Capital Development built the Fenton Logistics Park on land formerly occupied by the Chrysler Assembly Plant near I-270 and I-44. With hundreds of thousands of square feet available for rent, the buildings are rapidly filling up with job-producing businesses.
Skin Specialty Solutions leased a space at 2058 Fenton Logistics Park Boulevard, for which Ball helped negotiate a turnkey delivery at $8 per square foot.
Reel and Larsen knew what the new building needed to be a success, but the timeline was challenging. They called on the experts at M + H Architects and Kadean Construction, who went to work on the project with speed and efficiency.
The result is a beautiful space that meets the rigorous standards of the industry while including many of the amenities tech start-ups are known for: open workspaces, nursing mothers’ rooms, game areas, and even a media room where staffers can play video games.
Deeper inside, the building houses an ample, isolated pharmacy formulation space; a 32,000-square-foot warehouse; and a hazardous drug room outfitted with a specialized HVAC system. Negotiated into the lease, this system uses positive and negative airflow to keep powdered chemicals from spreading through the building.
Positioned for Growth
Currently Skin Specialty Solutions is only licensed in a few states, so the operation has only eight employees. But it is positioned to be licensed throughout the US very soon, bringing between 100 and 200 jobs to the St. Louis area in the space of a few years.
Thanks to a responsive team that included Hilliker Corporation, they were able to send their first shipment of custom skin-care products on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
A Clear Path to Future Success
Dr. Reel is enjoying her new role and colleagues. She’s able to build a team from scratch, work on the cutting edge of a new field, and help grow a burgeoning business from the ground up.
As she hires new employees, she’ll be able to give certain ones the flexibility to earn their pharmacy license while working at the state-of-the-art facility.
Larsen says, “The Fenton Logistics Park is beautiful, and the space will serve Skin Specialty Solutions well. They’re at the very beginning, but I think they’re going to have some great successes there.”
Creative Team Members for Your St. Louis Real Estate Search
If you’re searching for commercial property in St. Louis, get Hilliker Corporation on your team. Our experienced brokers know the area and can help you find real estate that will set you and your company up for long-term success.
Bimmers R Us: A St. Louis-area Auto Tradition
When Greg Stroud founded Bimmers R Us in 1991, he hoped to create a shop dedicated to providing “quality service by educated and informed technicians, positive customer relations, and prices lower than the dealers.”
Though he loves selling what he calls “pre-enjoyed” BMWs to his clients, his chief motivation has never been “moving metal,” an industry term for merely selling as much product as possible.
Instead, Stroud and his team at Bimmers R Us have concentrated on hand-curating a unique, high-end collection of both pre-owned and vintage BMW cars they feel proud to for their clients to drive.
General Manager Jack Zickrick says of the company’s aesthetic, “We buy what we like. We’ve built our business in a way that we don’t have to just ‘get rid of cars.’ Instead, we want to sell what we love.”
And they’ve been successful doing just that. With a sales and service center located at 3435 Kingshighway Boulevard in South St. Louis City, they continue to seek out what they believe to be the best cars for their customers. And with a staff of mechanics dedicated to keeping BMWs in top shape, they’ve remained busy and profitable.
Their success has led to a significant turning point in the company’s trajectory, allowing them to grow their business while innovatively serving BMW lovers.
Teaming Up to Buy Commercial Warehouse Space with Hilliker Corporation
Bimmers R Us purchased their current location at 3435 S Kingshighway in 2000 through a deal brokered by Ben Hilliker himself.
However, after years of successful business, they found themselves landlocked. Their property was always at capacity with new acquisitions and repairs. To keep up, they added two additional remote lots to store excess inventory.
This wasn’t ideal for a company that wanted to showcase everything they had available, and caused them to lose time, money, and opportunity as they shuttled vehicles between several different lots.
Stroud wanted to find a way to display all of the dealership’s BMWs in one place. Averaging between 70 and 90 cars at a time, he dreamt of a place to keep all his inventory under one roof, protected from the elements and visible to both customers and car lovers.
Stroud and Zickrick, assisted by Taff, decided they needed around 10,000 square feet of showroom in addition to space for sales, a shop to service sales cars, and plenty of parking. Stroud and Zickrick didn’t want to rush the process, only wanting to see properties in St. Louis City that matched their high-end vintage car aesthetic.
Taff says, “To meet Bimmers R Us’s specific vision for the new location, I knew the space had to meet multiple operational needs and include certain design elements.” He scoured the market, focusing on St. Louis neighborhoods that would be a good fit for the Bimmers R Us brand. They toured close to a dozen buildings throughout South City, and the Grand Center Arts District.
However, both parties agreed the inventory available to them would not successfully display all that Bimmers R Us had to offer.
Three years into the search, Taff’s Hilliker colleague Patrick McKay listed a very special building with a storied history. Together, the two of them wondered if it might meet both the technical specifications and artistic sensibilities of Bimmers R Us.
A Historic Business on St. Louis’s Florist Row
The 2700 block of LaSalle in Downtown St. Louis has long been known as Florist Row. Beginning in the 1930s, several floral wholesalers started buying up the substantial warehouse spaces, creating an industry that services flower retailers throughout the St. Louis area to this day.
Eric Kuhlmann, part owner of LaSalle Wholesale Florist and owner of Kirkwood Florist, remembers Florist Row in its heyday in the 1950s and 60s. However, as the business changed, most of the floral wholesalers have moved out.
He said, “When I was a young man, there were nineteen different wholesale florists on that street. Now there are only two or three.”
However, he and his partners at LaSalle Wholesale Florist thrived well into the new millennium at their shop at 2744-2766 LaSalle Street. Their 25,000 square-foot warehouse had been a staple of Florist Row, but as several of the partners reached retirement age, they decided it was time to divest themselves of both the business and the property.
They called a trusted advisor at Jefferson Bank, asking him to recommend a quality commercial real estate broker. The banker recommended Patrick McKay of Hilliker Corporation. After an interview, Kuhlmann and his partners decided McKay was the right fit for their company.
An Innovative Plan
After Taff saw McKay’s listing, he wanted to show it to his Bimmers R Us clients immediately. Zickrick said, “It was a 92-year-old building with plenty of space for a showroom. We like its industrial feel because when you’re into cars, it’s kind of hard not to like the beams, the brick, the really heavy sliding doors, and concrete floors.”
Stroud and Zickrick imagined the warehouse itself as a “curated sales collection.” Part museum, part showroom, they saw it as a potential paradise and perennial attraction for car-lovers.
In addition to the warehouse, the property features a separate building for the sales staff, another building ideal for a garage, and plenty of parking. Stroud, who’s lived in loft spaces throughout the St. Louis area for years, found an added benefit: a space Stroud could convert into a loft just above his unique car collection.
Bimmers R Us, represented by Chris Taff, signed a contract to purchase the property for $675,000 only a few weeks after LaSalle Floral Wholesalers and Patrick McKay listed the properties.
Zickrick said of Taff, “What attracted us to Chris was his patience. He’d drop everything he had to meet us for an hour on many different occasions.”
Kuhlmann says, “With Patrick McKay and Hilliker, it was an enjoyable experience. Closing the deal was smooth as silk.”
The team at Bimmers R Us will keep its current location on Kingshighway for service, but they’re hard at work remodeling the LaSalle location, targeting a soft opening by the end of 2019.
Get Hilliker’s Commercial Real Estate Team on Your Side
Whether you’re selling or purchasing commercial property, the Hilliker team is committed to helping their clients find the best possible solution. With a team of more than 20 commercial real estate professionals, we work together, make connections, and find innovative ways to help you win.
If you’re ready to get Hilliker’s Team of brokers working for you, book an appointment today.
An Unexpected Party on a Weekday Afternoon
In 2006, Lola Kim was walking down West Illinois Street in Chicago. It was a weekday afternoon, so she was mystified when she passed a storefront that was pulsing with music and full of people dancing. A trained musical theater actor and dancer, she had to find out what was going on.
She had stumbled on an Arthur Murray Dance Center, a worldwide ballroom and social-dance training franchise. Founded by Arthur Murray in 1912 as a mail-order business, he created a simple system for teaching ballroom dances, saying, “If you can walk, we can teach you how to dance.”
Ms. Kim became a devotee of the method which teaches twenty-five dances in only ten lessons. She enjoyed participating in the three-part system, which included private lessons, group lessons, and a weekly dance party that engaged students in a real social setting.
She soon became an instructor for the downtown Chicago location. Within six months, she was promoted to the center’s Manager. Overseeing every aspect of the operation, she hired and trained new instructors, ran the payroll, and made sure the location, one of the top 5 worldwide, remained profitable.
After 12 years leading the studio, she was ready for a new challenge. Arthur Murray International asked her if she wanted to bring a franchise to the St. Louis market. As a native of the region, it was an opportunity too good to pass up.
With support from Arthur Murray International, she needed to lease retail space in a part of St. Louis that would be convenient for students as well as provide enough room for dance classes.
The Search: Finding Retail Space for Lease in St. Louis
Lola and Mark Kim went to work on the project together. Consulting with Greg Russell at Colliers International, they found space quickly in Webster Groves and came to a verbal agreement, but a national company swept in and made an offer the Kims couldn’t compete with.
After that, Ms. Kim spent nearly two years checking listings and driving around town, looking for the right retail space for lease in the St. Louis area. On one of her drives, she spotted the famous Hilliker “Red H” sign at 14334 Manchester Road. The space, at just over 5000 square feet, was the right size.
Nico Properties (owned by Nuria, and Nicholas Citrin) purchased the raw land in 2005 for its retail business, GCO Carpet, with the assistance of longtime friend and broker Frank Yocum at Hilliker Corporation. Yocum had represented Nico Properties’ interests since 1999, completing seven other transactions for them.
They built the building that housed GCO a year later. Though the Citrin family sold the business in 2011, they still own the property and the building.
Nuria Citrin, a part-owner of Nico Properties, said she was looking for a tenant that would pass muster with the City of Manchester’s rigorous business ordinances. However, she was also looking for a business that would complement the existing tenant, Sincerely Yours Bridal.
Also, Yocum and Greg Russell had worked well together in the past. They knew they could negotiate a win-win.
As the two parties began to talk, the Citrins and the Kims saw an opportunity for a mutually beneficial partnership.
Stepping into a New Retail Space
For the Arthur Murray Dance Center, the location is perfect. Situated at a stoplight on Manchester Road just west of MO-141, Wal-Mart and Costco anchor the property. The building itself has glass on three sides with signage on both Manchester and Meramec Station Road. And best of all, more than 50,000 cars pass the high-visibility location daily!
With a truck-high dock and wheel-chair accessibility, the most significant change for the new studio is the installation of a new dance floor. Mark and Lola Kim are working with R L Contracting, LLC, for that and other needed updates.
Partnering to Create a Win-Win
Ms. Kim enjoyed working with both Greg Russell and Frank Yocum.
About Yocum, she said, “Frank’s a solid guy. He was always available when we needed him, to come out to meet with a general contractor, or whatever. We asked a lot of him, and through it all, we found him to very kind, funny and entertaining!”
Mrs. Citrin says of Yocum, “We have a very good relationship. Frank has been our broker since 1999, and we’ve worked with him on every deal since.
Citrin is happy at the match between the two businesses in her building. Besides teaching classes, she sees Arthur Murray as a place “to prepare people for the wedding,” pairing perfectly with Sincerely Yours Bridal. The Kims see the opportunity as well. Mr. Kim calls the situation “just unbelievable.”
Converting the Retail Space into a Dance Studio
Ms. Kim says, “It’s an amazing space. It’s perfect, especially compared to everything else. And our new landlords are great. We believe it’s very important to develop a relationship with the owner. It’s really one of the things we’re most excited about.”
With renovations underway, Lola and Mark Kim are on schedule to open the St. Louis branch of Arthur Murray Dance Center in July 2019.
Retail Space for Lease in St. Louis: Are You on the Hunt?
At Hilliker, we have solutions for you. Whether you need help negotiating a lease for a space you’ve already found, or you’re starting from scratch, we have the expertise to guide you to a successful outcome.