Traction in the New Age of Commercial Real Estate

“Traction in the New Age of Commercial Real Estate” is the theme for the annual conference (ACREcon) for the Alabama Center for Real Estate, to be held Friday, February 1 at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center in Birmingham.

ACREcon, the only statewide commercial real estate conference in Alabama, now in its 13th year, has a projected 2013 attendance of 450 business and real estate industry leaders. Each year’s conference format incorporates a slate of key industry speakers for continuing education and professional development, while providing ample time for networking with peers. 

Christopher Lee, frequent industry keynote and author, will headline the morning session. Lee has 30 years of industry experience through his Los Angeles-based CEL Associates Inc., a consulting company that has completed strategic and long-range planning assignments for over 500 companies in the realms of financial, planning and development of office, retail, mixed-use, hotels, industrial and residential. He is a frequent contributor to national journals and has recently written Transformational Leadership in the New Age of Real Estate. Lee believes that leaders must not simply manage people or processes, but will now have added requirements to be visionary and to promote individual entrepreneurship. The book outlines the likely future of real estate, while detailing important factors necessary for success in the next decade. 

NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association, kicks off the morning session — a conference highlight as University of Alabama MBA students and their NAIOP mentors take the stage to present a statewide market review of the four major Alabama markets by property type.

Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist for Wells Fargo Securities, whose commentary and insights have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, will provide economic data and trends to guide direction for 2013 and beyond. The Economic Outlook session has had a consistent place of importance on the agenda throughout the history of ACREcon.

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Entrepreneurship, vision and traction in today’s marketplace are common threads weaving throughout the entire day. ACRE Executive Director Grayson Glaze selected the theme of Traction in the New Age of Commercial Real Estate after hearing Lee speak at the IREM Legislative and Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. and after researching the connection between entrepreneurship and the real estate industry. This led to conversations with Ken Dewitt, the afternoon keynote speaker, and learning of Gino Wickman’s book, “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business.” Conference attendees will learn the secrets of strengthening the Six Key Components of their business, discovering powerful business strategies that give the owner more focus, more growth and more enjoyment. DeWitt, a CPA and six-time business owner, has worked as an advisor for over 100 Alabama companies. He currently serves as a chief financial officer, advisory board member or entrepreneurial operation system implementer for a dozen companies. DeWitt also is an active member in the Birmingham Angel Network, the Birmingham Venture Club and a contributor to state and national publications with offices in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. Kitty Barrow, a partner with Southwestern Consulting, will complete the afternoon session with a presentation on lead generation techniques.

“As we enter the New Age of Real Estate, what can we do to ensure that our businesses are not just surviving, but prospering under the new realities? More than ever, companies must respond to rapidly changing market conditions, competitive pressures and shifting customer demands and expectations, to look ahead and put themselves in a position to seize the opportunities presented by the ‘new normal, ’” says Glaze.

“In the New Age of Real Estate, successful companies will foster an environment that rewards creativity and innovation, remain flexible, diverse and responsive, ” says Glaze. “Future success requires transformational leadership, which is the key to sustainability, productivity, profitability and growth. It sets the tone, provides the vision and brings out the best in people.”

Christopher Lee, an industry keynote and author, has over 30 years of experience through CEL Associates Inc., a California-based consulting company that focuses on long-range planning for companies. Lee will headline the morning session at ACREcon.

According to Lee, success factors needed for the decade ahead are ones that will create momentum, a sense of urgency, pride and trust within the organization. Hardwiring the voice of the customer into everything will provide the foundation for creating a differentiating story, brand and top-of-mind awareness, Lee adds.

ACREcon is hosted annually by industry partners, sponsors and exhibitors. The conference day begins at The Cahaba Grande at 7:30 a.m. with registration and continental breakfast, concluding at 3:30 p.m.  Buffet lunch will be served between morning and afternoon sessions. Participants licensed by the Alabama Real Estate Commission will be eligible to earn six hours of continuing education credit. Other real estate affiliates, such as appraisers, lawyers and accountants, also may seek approval for continuing education from their respective licensing boards.

The conference admission also includes an invitation to a networking and business development reception hosted by Burr & Forman from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday. All conference participants can network with professional colleagues in a more relaxed environment while enjoying the best skyline views from atop the Wells Fargo Tower in downtown Birmingham.

For registration and sponsorship information, visit the conference website at, or contact Rachel Jennings, ACRE outreach coordinator, at [email protected] or direct at 205-348-0188.

Tracy Gatewood is a senior member of the ACRE Leadership Council and is a commercial real estate practitioner with Hamner Real Estate in Tuscaloosa.

Click here to download the complete list of Commercial Real Estate Firms ranked by Number of Alabama Employees. 

Tracy Gatewood

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