The Evolution of an Industry
Dave Schilli, the second-generation owner of Schilli Plastering, is seeing his father’s business thrive in the new millennium. Founded in 1950 by Elmer Schilli, the company started as a plaster contractor on homes, commercial buildings, and apartment complexes. By the mid-1960s, however, the construction industry was scaling back its use of plaster. That’s when Mr. Schilli received his first call from a pool installer. Backyard pools were taking off in residential areas, and quality plastering is a vital part of the process. Slowly but surely, Schilli became known as one of the local plastering experts for pool installations. By the time his son Dave took over the company in 1976, home and public swimming pools had become their mainstay. Not to be boxed in, they’ve continued to work in construction and continually add to their core services:
- Plastering restoration (Schilli was responsible for the plasterwork at the POW Museum at Jefferson Barracks)
- Tile and coping
- Deck coatings
- Stucco construction for homes
- Insulation finish systems
Now, nearly 70 years into their journey, Schilli Plastering is doing better work than ever before.
The Challenge: Industrial Warehouse and Office with Fenced-In Parking
In 2007, Schilli purchased 123 Millwell Drive in Maryland Heights. With only twenty-five employees, five of them office staff, they were comfortable at just under 13,000 square feet. The warehouse space and fenced-in back lot were sufficient to keep their needed materials and vehicles on site. But more calls than they could have hoped for started coming in. Schilli expanded his staff, gradually, from 25 to 75. His office staff grew to 11. He purchased more equipment to keep up: four plaster rigs, three mason trucks, a blast truck, and numerous pickup trucks and trailers. At one point, he needed to take an aerial photo of all the company’s vehicles. He wasn’t able — they wouldn’t all fit in his lot. Schilli needed to find space immediately, and he started searching on his own. He put in an offer on a property he found himself, but the deal fell through. However, he received a timely email from Will Meehan of Hilliker Corporation. Meehan had been checking in with area businesses to see if they needed any commercial real estate help. When Schilli got the email, the timing couldn’t have been better. They spoke, and Meehan learned about Schilli’s current problem. He started searching immediately for something that would have a fenced-in lot and plenty of office and warehouse space.
Looking in Unexpected Places
Though Meehan concentrated his search on properties that met Schilli’s specifications, he employed several techniques to find listings that would be off-the-radar. Though Schilli needed industrial warehouse space with room for offices, Meehan also looked at properties marketed simply as office space. One such property was 13284 Corporate Exchange Drive in Bridgeton. Owned by Progressive Insurance, the structure was purpose-built as an estimation center. Since clients would have to drop off their damaged vehicles there, Progressive fenced-in the large backlot. Though listed as office space, it was ideal for a company like Schilli Plastering. Since it was only 10 minutes from the Schilli’s Maryland Heights location, he told Meehan he’d drive by and take a look. From the outside, it seemed ideal. The interior turned out to be perfect as well. At 17,620 square feet, Schilli’s workers could divide the space into office and warehouse, leaving plenty of room both for their employees and their supplies. Progressive didn’t list an asking price for the building. Meehan and colleague Chris Taff would have to do their own research to come up with a “comp,” or asking price based on other comparable properties. The work to put together a “comp” is a highly intuitive and analytical process requiring knowledge of the industry, the neighborhood, and the current market. It also requires input from other real estate professionals: fellow brokers, estimators, and contractors. Come back with an analysis that was too low, and they may lose their opportunity. Too high, and Schilli would overpay. Their comp, however, turned out to hit the nail on the head. After minimal negotiation, Schilli Properties was able to purchase 13284 Corporate Exchange Drive in Bridgeton, MO, for $1,525,000.
Additional Strategies for Success
Meehan and Taff were also to inform Schilli that they were eligible for a Reverse 1031 Exchange. This is a section of tax code that allows corporations to defer taxes on the sale of their previous building, even though they would sell it after they purchased the new building. Schilli Plastering’s staff only needed to perform minimal customization to the office and warehouse to move in on Sunday, September 1, 2019. The new space, along with ample parking, will allow Schilli Plastering to continue to do great work. No longer handicapped by too-tight quarters or an overflowing backlot, they’re perfectly positioned to prosper into the next decade and beyond.
Do you have the Hilliker Advantage?
Business owners looking for property need a competitive edge. They need someone with a broad knowledge of the market, a strong network of real estate professionals, and the creativity to find the property that suits their unique needs. Unfortunately, too many try to go it alone, not relying on the expertise of a trusted advocate. At Hilliker Corporation, we want to be your advocate. We want to provide you with the counsel you need through every commercial real estate transaction — throughout your life. If your property no longer meets your needs, and you want to work with a knowledgeable consultant, schedule an appointment with Will Meehan today.