At a recent event held at The James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant in Baltimore City, Reid Townsend, Co-Founder and Principal of MRP Industrial provided career advice and life lessons to more than fifty NAIOP Maryland Developing Leaders (DL) as he traced his commercial real estate track over the past twenty years. The Developing Leaders group, comprised of commercial real estate professionals thirty-five years of age and younger, meets throughout the year for education and networking programming. Spencer Perry, Business Services Officer – Commercial Real Estate at BB&T, is the Chairman of the DL committee.
“The most important career advice I can impart is the strong need to emerge from your comfort zone to build your skill-set,” explained Townsend, who co-founded MRP Industrial in 2013 with Dan Hudson. “It is crucial to make yourself valuable to your organization and that means becoming exposed to all sections of the industry that you are not involved with now. And, fight for the job, not the salary. If you are on the right career path, don’t worry about your current income. That comes later with the right experience and track record.”
Even at a young age, Townsend knew he was destined to enter the real estate and construction sector because he spent long stretches of time playing with wooden building blocks. “Finally, my father suggested that I diversify a little bit and I was given a Tonka truck. I guess that worked because I ended up constructing a three-car garage out of building blocks for this vehicle. My first build-to-suit. Fast forward, Mattel contracted with MRP Industrial to develop and lease more than one million square feet of distribution space in Pennsylvania last year. Hot Wheels is among the products that will be handled – I guess my parents knew something.”
His decision to diversify pays dividends every day. “I might have a leasing conversation to start the day at 8 am,” Townsend explained. “This is followed at 10 am with a discussion about a construction contract. And then, at noon, I become deeply-involved with a financial institution to work out funding on a project. Of course, I am most happy when looking at architectural drawings and site plans and marking them up with suggestions. But, I realize that, to be successful in this industry, I need to be knowledgeable about every aspect of the business.”
Over the past four years, MRP Industrial has constructed or owns nearly thirty warehouse and industrial building stretching from New Jersey to Northern Virginia comprising more than ten million square feet of space. “It seems nearly every company now needs large warehouse spaces. Industrial has become the new retail,” he said, “and given the trend in consumers buying habits, I don’t expect that to change in the foreseeable future.
“The real estate industry is notoriously cyclical so you need to prepare for this certainty,” Townsend concluded. “Most importantly, protect your reputation at all costs, because it is everything. Overpay the brokers that bring you the deals, always negotiate contracts that are fair to both sides and pay your subcontractors on time.”