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ConVis TI project demonstrates importance of strategic relationships

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When the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau (ConVis) moved to its 20,000-square-foot, redesigned office space on the 15th floor of Irvine Company’s Symphony Towers building late last year, it did so on schedule and under budget.

ConVis President Joe Terzi said the new space perfectly met all of the bureau’s requirements, and he attributed this to the “professional and expeditious” team of real estate experts he worked with, from leasing to furnishing, and everything in between.

Surprisingly, Terzi had not worked with any of these professionals before — but many of the companies had preexisting relationships with one another — which resulted in smooth communication and multiple efficiencies.

“I couldn’t have had a better experience,” Terzi said.

Few degrees of separation exist in San Diego’s commercial real estate arena. In the case of the bureau’s office move and tenant improvement project, the leasing agent, Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE: JLL), had already worked with the landlord, Irvine Company, as well as the architect, Ware Malcomb.

The lobby of the new office of the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau. Courtesy photo

Irvine Company had worked with the contractor, Bycor, and the architect, who had worked with the furniture management company, Unisource Solutions.

Additionally, many of the individuals involved in the project had established relationships and strategic alliances through their involvement with CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) San Diego, a commercial real estate networking organization that supports networking, philanthropy, education, skills development and mentoring.

“Eighty percent of our business has CREW people involved in it,” said Anne Benge, president of Unisource Solutions. Whether from teaming opportunities or professional referrals, Benge credits CREW with giving her the opportunity to make strategic alliances for collaboration that will help her business grow.

Tiffany English, director of interior architecture and design for Ware Malcomb, has also formed many connections through CREW using the association’s multiple platforms for developing business relationships and alliances.

For example, English suggested that Unisource Solutions be added to the bid list for the bureau’s furniture management requirement as a result of their positive working experience together on previous projects and involvement on the board of CREW.

Ultimately this resulted in Unisource being selected for the work.

“While we still have to earn the work, strategic alliances are what help you get opportunities in commercial real estate and many other industries,” Benge said.

“Taking the time to get to know people and to cultivate business relationships with other firms can also give you the confidence that those firms are capable of providing the same level of quality that you deliver before you create an alliance.”

Working closely together, the bureau’s entire real estate team created the bright, vibrant and dynamic office space that reflects the character of San Diego and represents the ConVis mission.

Unable to afford down time or delays, the bureau was able to make the move into its new space, thanks to the seamless and collaborative work style of its assembled team.

Terzi added that the Irvine Company’s staff members, who were actively involved in the tenant improvement project as well, even took it upon themselves to identify and implement additional improvements above and beyond the expectations of the bureau.

“They really cared about the outcome,” he said.

“As a former senior vice president of Starwood Hotels, I’ve built hotels from the ground-up,” he added. “I didn’t need to know as much as I knew. This tenant improvement project was an A-plus process.”

On that note, don’t discount the client as a key component of a project’s success, English said.

“Joe obviously cares about everyone who works for him," English said. "He’s a tremendous leader and business person, and it takes a great person to make a great client.”

Tenant improvement work provides multiple challenges and countless variables, but Terzi believes that his team’s success was based upon understanding the importance of information sharing and collaboration, and existing relationships between the team members.

“If you put the right team together with the right focus, the outcome almost always meets your expectation,” Terzi said.





-Whitelaw is Senior Consultant at TW2 Marketing, Inc.

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