2020 was a year of uncertainty. So much so it’s become a buzzword. But uncertainty is evident in everything—COVID-19, shutdowns, jobs, stimulus, a vaccine. In our industry, there’s uncertainty in which retailers will survive, which tenants will be able to pay rent, what deals will lenders lend on, what deals are investors looking for? The list goes on. To find some sense of normalcy and achieve success amidst all the chaos, we look for small bits of clarity that give us the courage to move forward. As we turn the page to a new year, our Stirling Investment Advisors reflect on the positive things that came out of this uncertainty and all there is to be grateful for.
Beezie Landry, Vice President of Investment Advisors
With the pandemic, we were forced into an unprecedented situation. How would we make it through? What would happen with our families, children, health, jobs, finances, investments? Simultaneously, we were forced to slow down, reevaluate our time and priorities, and appreciate the small things. I spent more quality time with my family cooking, taking walks with the dog, riding bikes, just driving around town with the windows down and music cranked up.
This year reminded me that opportunities and blessings could be found in any situation. Too often, we get caught up in immaterial things in life and lose sight of the bigger picture. I’m learning to refocus on things I can control and not get lost in the mundane details that won’t matter in the long run. 2020 also reinforced that I work with an awesome team and for a great company. In 2021, I am looking forward to our SIA team’s continued growth on an individual and group level. We are uniquely positioned to traverse the ups and downs that are in front of us.
Jeff Barnes, CCIM, Senior Investment Advisor
Despite the numerous struggles in 2020 resulting from the pandemic and hurricanes that impacted our community, I am thankful for the quality time I spent with my wife and daughters. I’m also grateful for the support and resources provided by my Stirling Properties colleagues. I am proud of the growth of our SIA team this year. While extraordinary market challenges may have hampered our production, we have become more closely aligned than perhaps we would have in normal circumstances. This bond will prove fruitful in our future endeavors.
I’m thankful to live and work in a truly resilient region poised for continued success. Our market dynamics and growth are very encouraging, with exciting activity in the pipeline. For 2021, I anticipate pushing forward with deals in the works and fostering new opportunities resulting from the positive momentum happening here. On a personal level, my wife and I will officially be empty nesters next fall. While it will be an adjustment, I look forward to spending more time together–which will likely consist of multiple trips to Auburn and Tuscaloosa to visit our girls!
Steadman Bethea, Investment Advisor
2020 has been a universally difficult year for everyone. Despite the many ups and downs, I’m thankful for my wife, wonderful family, and the supportive, resilient community we are lucky to call home. I am also grateful to work for Stirling Properties and be part of a company that takes care of its people.
As a newer commercial advisor on the team, it has been challenging to network, meet new people and drum up new business this year. I have had to rely on Jeff (Barnes), other senior advisors, and the SIA team for help. Thankfully at Stirling Properties, I have found encouragement and support, day in and day out. In 2021, I look forward to the continued success of our company and our SIA team.
Justin Langlois, CCIM, Regional Vice President
I am thankful and blessed to have a healthy family. We have enjoyed a slower pace of life in 2020. We get so caught up running from one thing to the next that we miss out on what is most important. Spending more time with family and close friends was much needed in my life this year.
In March and April of 2020, I set a personal record for the number of purchase agreement cancellations and lease agreement cancellations. When the stay-at-home order was initiated, it felt like much of the business world stopped in its tracks. Looking back on the year, I am proud of what I have accomplished and even more proud of what our team achieved. With the help of my family, friends, clients and colleagues, I persevered. Through persistence in doing things despite difficulties and delays along the way, we were blessed to achieve success.
Griffin Lennox, Investment Advisor
I am thankful for family, both at home and my Stirling Properties family. During tough times, it’s easy to get caught up in uncertainty and negativity. But having such a great support system at home and in the office makes it much easier to focus on the positives and our future successes.
This year, our SIA team had a number of projects fall out due to the general uncertainty surrounding commercial real estate, particularly retail. But we kept our heads down and kept a positive outlook and were able to get each one back under contract with new investors and eventually get them to the finish line. Our team adapted and overcame. In 2021, I am personally looking forward to marrying my fiancé. Professionally, I look forward to building my own book of business and developing relationships with new and existing clients.
Chad Rigby, Managing Director-Multifamily Sales
We had to quickly figure out how to ‘show’ multifamily property during a pandemic. Buyers were no longer touring properties before putting them under contract, so we had to improvise with virtual property tours and unit walks. We added drone footage to our listings and marketing materials. The multifamily industry was already heading in the direction of using more mixed media in the marketing process; the pandemic only accelerated this shift. We purchased new video and drone equipment, jumped on the road, and started filming all our listings from Little Rock to Lake Charles. (Thanks to Cheri in our New Orleans office for a crash course in film editing; they deserve all the credit!)
Deal patience is something that has been continuously reinforced in 2020. In addition to COVID, Hurricane Laura devastated the Lake Charles area, where several of our listed properties took significant damage and will not be back online until mid-2021. While managing our own emotions, we also had to help manage our clients’ emotions and really focus on the advisory role of our business.
Saban Sellers, Investment Advisor-Multifamily
Flexibility and adaptability have been the theme of the year 2020. From a physical site perspective, we had to get creative on due diligence and virtual site tours to accommodate social distancing. From an overall business perspective, we had to work with both sides of the transaction to keep deals moving through the continually changing COVID business environment. It has been a learning experience for everyone involved but being able to get creative and pivot throughout the transaction as issues present themselves has proven to be the only way to get deals done this year.
I am incredibly thankful for the people closest to me and our overall health. Turning the page to 2021, I look forward to a strong year for our multifamily team while we continue to improve and build out the platform that we envision. On a personal level, I look forward to getting married (unless COVID says otherwise) in April!
No one could have predicted the uncertainty and challenges we faced this past year, and 2021 will undoubtedly have its share of obstacles. But as much as we’ve struggled, we’ve also seen resilience, opportunities and blessings. We are hopeful for the new year ahead and look forward to continued success as a company and a team.
We wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!