My Year in Review: Steve Martin

Winter 2015/2016
Steve Martin

Are we there already? My term as chairman went by much too quickly. It has been an interesting and enjoyable year. I offer my appreciation to all of our NAIOP members, as well as the board of directors and executive committee, our terrific chapter executives and staffs, and the NAIOP Corporate staff. Each of you made my year possible and contributed to it all running so smoothly. Your confidence, support and trust in me made this job one that I’ve enjoyed immensely.   

Location and timing are important elements of the commercial real estate business, and it seems that being in the right place at the right time also helps while being the NAIOP chairman! It is always better and easier when the tide is rising: our membership is growing, sponsorship investments are up and conference attendance is setting new records. I wish I could tell you that this success was all due to me, but the truth is that it is because of where we are in the cycle, as well as the hard work of all our leadership and the dedication of our members. 

I’m often asked what NAIOP is all about and why I volunteered a year of my time as chairman. One of my favorite sayings is that real estate is a relationship business. As I’ve traveled to chapters this year, I’ve emphasized that NAIOP facilitates relationship building better than any other group. 

Representing our organization as chairman allowed me to see firsthand how engaged and passionate our membership is across North America. From my view, NAIOP is meeting our members where they are and guiding all of us into the future, ensuring we are strong operationally and financially. The future definitely looks bright.

Serving as chairman has also allowed me, in spades, to meet people throughout North America in diverse professions across our industry, create new professional relationships, and learn plenty about other markets and the “temperature” of our industry and economy. At the end of the day, gauging that temperature is a critical ingredient to running a business or managing a career.

two men shaking hands

Outgoing NAIOP Chairman Steve Martin passes the gavel to incoming chairman Ashley Powell, whose term begins on Jan. 1, 2016.

I’m reminded of a favorite metaphor, “thermostat versus thermometer.” The thermostat sets the temperature in the room, while the thermometer has the temperature set for it. Which are you? NAIOP enables you to be the thermostat, to set the temperature in your business, market or career by getting involved.

I want to share a few cautionary words that popped up during my travels midyear. I began to hear murmurs of “when the next downturn comes” and, as a very well-known industry leader offered, “it feels a whole lot like 2006.” Experience tell us that a downturn is inevitable, that it’s “when,” not “if.” I don’t intend to be negative; I only plead for everyone to be mindful and prepared.

At conferences and within markets where the association has chapters, NAIOP members openly discuss this “when.” In truth, our industry has never done a good job of executing a full-stop or exhibiting restraint of its own accord. The rising market of the past five years has allowed most to regain their footing and become profitable again. Our goal now should be to not give up any ground!

I leave you in good hands with Ashley Powell as our 2016 chairman. Ashley and I have worked together on the executive committee for a number of years, and he is very well informed and attentive to our industry and organization. Never shy about sharing his opinions, he demonstrates strong insight and offers articulate solutions to any task at hand. His Northern California location will enable him to share with NAIOP members his perspective coming from a large marketplace — San Francisco — and as a major investor in commercial real estate.

I humbly thank y’all for this opportunity to have served on your behalf. I step aside knowing that the past year has been one of my best professionally, in no small part due to my having been your chairman. 

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