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Greenville Business Magazine

Annual Real Estate Report: Top Leasing Team - Colliers Team

By Amanda Capps

After 40 years in business, Chuck Salley said the first quarter of 2021 was the best he’s ever seen, but the work that yielded those results was not his alone — it was performed by an outstanding team that includes Dave Mathews, Thomas Beard and John Peebles.

“This kind of work absolutely would not be possible without a team. There are too many things to do at once,” Salley said.

When Covid hit in 2020, many projects came to a sudden stop, but Salley said demand suddenly doubled. Fortunately, his team’s listings and knowledge of the area positioned them well as “speed to market” became the norm. Throughout Salley’s career, Columbia has been more of an office and  

retail market, but rapid transformation has brought industrial development to the forefront.

“Everyone found themselves behind the eight ball, needing space. The Class A vacancy rate for existing buildings is zero. The next available will be June, and it’s 35 percent pre-leased,” Salley said. “But there’s a good bit of Class B manufacturing space with infrastructure ready to go . . . What was a stopgap became a dynamic shift in the way things are consumed.”

Salley, who serves as vice president and director of the Industrial Brokerage Team in Columbia, said the variety of skill sets on the team, including those of the marketing professionals, facilitates their ability to determine clients’ exact needs and present solutions. Mathews is also vice president; for him, success is finding the best possible outcome for a client within their constraints and aiding their business development. Promoted to senior brokerage associate in 2020, Beard said he finds industrial brokerage intriguing because it serves as the foundation of many different types of businesses and processes. Peebles, the relative newcomer to the company, said he’s gratified by the opportunity to stimulate the local and regional economy, a reward few careers can offer.

The Colliers team has sophisticated equipment for virtual tours, yet they much prefer face-to-face contact. Because theirs is truly a global business, Covid protocols presented numerous challenges involving the timing and type of virus testing required for international travelers. Salley also recalls one particularly lengthy Zoom session with representatives of a Chinese company, who had never executed a corporate lease and were looking to them to explain what’s customary. For that project, the team had an assist from a San Francisco Colliers associate who translated in Mandarin.

“It’s best to touch and feel real estate. That’s part of what I like about the business. It’s not like a stock or a commodity . . . you pick up the phone, buy some shares and that’s it. It’s a lot more complicated, but we thrive on the nuances and do our best to stay prepared for anything,” Salley said.

When SIOR® (the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors) announced its Top Transactions Award Winners for 2020, Colliers was at the top. Salley and Mathews were named among those responsible for the largest transaction, the $184 million sale of 5.5 million square feet of industrial space in multiple locations in South Carolina. According to CoStar, it was the largest single acquisition of properties in South Carolina in over 10 years.

Marveling at that designation, Salley noted that vast markets like Chicago have more vacant space than South Carolina has in total, “billions versus a couple hundred million square feet.” He also stated that the deal for which they were recognized was more than 12 years in the making, a process of leasing properties and building value, which led to the Weston Inc. purchase of 37 industrial properties across the Carolinas, including approximately 24 properties within Columbia submarkets.