For 45 years, Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Kentucky has established itself as a locally and nationally renowned firm under the steady hand of Phil Scherer and former partner Charlie Casper. The next years will be shaped by 33-year veteran, Steve Gray. In 2017, Gray became president after Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Kentucky completed an in-depth process of positioning for the future. “Phil continues to touch every facet of the company, but now as chairman, he has a team in place who both share in the management of the company and continue to produce brokerage revenue,” said Gray.
“Phil has done a masterful job setting the tone for our company. He has the ability to chart a course and lead,” said Gray of Scherer. The president also recognized Scherer as a fundamental reason for the unusually long tenure of many of its brokers: four with 30 years or more, and six in the 15 to 20-year range.
“For years, Phil and his former partner Charlie ran the type of company anyone with drive, ambition and talent would want to work for,” said Gray. “Our firm provides the necessary support structure to elevate our brokerage team and experience success. That’s why everyone wants to stay,” said Gray.
Gray, 55, a graduate of University of Kentucky, cut his teeth selling advertising in high school and college for his father’s trade publications, as well as UK’s Kentucky Kernel. In 1984, he became an early employee at Business First but in less than a year, he left for Cushman & Wakefield to focus on industrial brokerage. “As brokers, we have the ability to work with the owners of a business, or the one who has responsibility for the company’s real estate. We work together, arm and arm, and I find real satisfaction in doing that.”
In 33 years, how has Gray seen commercial brokerage change?
“The obvious answer is technology, evolving faster than ever. Since the recessionary years of 2009 and 2010, the occupied footprint of industrial space for example has increased significantly over time due, in large part, to increasing consumer online purchases. At the same time, we’ve seen a decrease in the occupied footprint of retail stores for the same reason. Some may call it evolution and others revolution. Regardless, technology is changing our business, and this bricks verses clicks concept called, “new-commerce”, is altering the industry.”
How has Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Kentucky navigated the waters of change and kept a steady course for its clients?
“I believe with our brokers’ experience comes great depth and knowledge,” said Gray. “What many clients appreciate is tenured brokers in front of them who want to work with them as a partner. When a client is making a decision of magnitude, they want to mitigate risk and that is achieved by surrounding the client with people of great experience and expertise,” he said.
Gray also attributes the office and industrial platforms Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Kentucky established long ago as a contributor to continued success. According to Gray, a big part of that platform has always been, and continues to be research.
“It’s incumbent upon us to provide good research for those making real estate decisions, whether they’re a local company buying a building down the street, or a large developer entering our market to construct a build-to-suit or a speculative building. In both cases, we leverage research concerning various locations, building amenities, market rates, etc. to achieve the best possible results.”
What kind of course is Gray setting for the future of Cushman & Wakefield?
One that parlays a storied history and experience into a never-ending effort to give superior service to their clients, said Gray. “Our number one theme at the forefront of our mind is we are here for our clients,” he said.
Jim Boland, Co-owner and Vice-President of Construction and Development for Boland Maloney Realty, said that Cushman & Wakefield as a company and Gray as an agent, have excelled at providing customer service to his company since 1973. “Since Steve took over our account from Charlie Casper more than 20 years ago, he’s been extraordinary – thorough, accommodating, eager to help wherever he can.” Boland said he and Gray have become good friends. “Cushman & Wakefield are our agents, yes, but as far as I’m concerned they’re as much a part of the company as our other employees,” he said.
Keeping a roster of top-notch brokers is also on Gray’s radar, so backfilling key positions is another endeavor underway. “We have a number of seasoned brokers on our teams. Mentoring fresh, talented, ambitious individuals allows us to maintain our pool of talent to better serve the needs of our clients. Experience and depth is key to providing tomorrow’s clients what they’ll need when making real estate decisions.”
For Gray, Scherer, and team, a firm that is nimble and adaptable will continue to be important.
“The market will always change over time,” Gray said. “We want to be very good at anticipating and identifying opportunities to grow revenue and grow our workforce so we can better serve our clients. We also need to stay up to date and relevant with technology. Who knew how important it would one day be when someone Googles commercial real estate and finds Cushman & Wakefield is at the top of the list?”