CRE Chats: Erskine Black Jr.
Welcome to CRE Chats where we sit down with leaders in the commercial real estate industry to discuss industry trends, technologies, and how we continue to move our cities forward. Recently, we talked with Erskine Black, Vice President in the Tenant Advisory + Workplace Solutions group at Transwestern in Houston.
Between COVID, economic slowdown, and low oil prices how much more challenging has your job become?
As commercial real estate advisors, a significant portion of our role is to help clients understand how to navigate internal and external challenges to discover the value which can be derived from their commercial real estate. Value comes in many forms, not all of which are strictly economic. For instance, the right space aids in recruiting the best talent and retaining existing team members and the right space is an extension of a company’s culture.
There seems to be more discussion from companies about the role of the physical office post-COVID. How much of that is just knee jerk reaction vs maybe some innovative changes that are long overdue?
Every company is unique and there is no one size fits all solution. There are outdated aspects of the physical office that need to evolve to include innovative changes, but those changes should be specific to each company’s operation. A commercial real estate advisor helps companies consider a host of factors to develop a real estate strategy specific to their operations, but most importantly addresses what makes sense for that company’s demand for real estate over time.
Even after a vaccine becomes available, its probably safe to assume that most tenants and companies will be more focused on health and wellness in the workplace. Is that a trend you’re seeing as well and what other kinds of changes do you think will be here to stay?
In the current environment, the health and wellness of employees is the priority. Changes that increase the fluidity of employee interactions across departments and regions will continue to become more efficient. This will drive changes in the way companies understand health vs wellness with the ultimate goal of putting employees in a position to be successful.
Have you had to work from home at any point during the pandemic, if so what were your favorite and least favorite things about it?
I definitely have worked from home! Right now my seven-year-old daughter is insisting that she can respond to these questions for me. Her responses would actually be interesting! Honestly, I am learning to exercise more patience during the pandemic. Growth is uncomfortable, but necessary.
How are you and your company uniquely positioning yourself to help clients through this?
I am leaning on Transwestern’s full resources, led by local market experts and the Research & Investment Analytics team. Our Research team is analyzing data and real-time information to help us advise our clients during this period on the potential future impact on their real estate holdings.
What advice would you offer to your colleagues in the CRE and AEC industry?
The best is yet to come!
More About Erskine Black Jr. – Transwestern
As Vice President in the Tenant Advisory + Workplace Solutions group in Houston, Erskine represents tenants in their real estate decisions and specializes in working with tenants in the evaluation of their office and industrial facilities. Erskine and his team provide strategic commercial real estate services to local and national companies, including clients from the oil and gas, finance, legal, and medical industries.
Erskine brings over ten years of public accounting/auditing and various industry experience with privately held companies with positions ranging as high as CFO. Erskine started his accounting career in Indianapolis, Indiana. Erskine serves on the Board of Directors for Genesys Works, a nonprofit organization that provides pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences, and impactful relationships.