For Paul Perkins, managing general partner for Colliers International in Reno, selling potential industrial clients on Northern Nevada is an easy job.
He talks about the things that attracted him to this area in 1977 — quality of life and the incredible scenery of the Sierras. Then he takes them to places like Montreux and lets the landscape do the rest. Perkins says people often don’t understand what Reno is really like, but once they arrive, they see the advantages the area has to offer: a centralized location making it possible to provide overnight service to the Western United States and the low cost of doing business. And, of course, there are those mountains.
Perkins began his career 31 years ago in Southern California as a residential broker. He then moved on to the commercial side of real estate, but says that he really enjoyed the challenges of industrial brokerage most of all. “It’s the quality of the people I deal with. They know what they want, and they are knowledgeable about the process,” he said. Perkins added that many of his friends have started out as clients.
When Perkins and his family moved to Reno, the industrial market was too shallow for him to pursue it exclusively, but over the past decade, he has watched that market explode, now with more than 48 million square feet of industrial space in Reno/Sparks, Fernley and the 1-80 corridor. He estimates that it translates into roughly 150 square feet of industrial space per capita in Washoe County~ compared to about 40 square feet per capita in Las Vegas. And it means he is able to work exclusively in the area of the market he likes best.
In 1986, he became one of the area’s few industrial specialists when CB Richard Ellis hired him to head up its industrial brokerage department. According to Perkins, most brokers prefer the general side of commercial brokerage, working with investment properties, retail and office space, or land development. Perkins sees more opportunities for industrial brokers as the market matures in Washoe County, and companies situated in the smaller spaces they needed as start-ups begin looking for larger spaces. ‘Companies that came here five or 10 years ago are expanding or moving into larger quarters. They will list with a broker to get another company into their old space as a sublease,” Perkins noted.
Another boon to the industrial market is Silicon Valley’s increasing awareness of Reno as a potential location for their companies. While much of the market is taken up by warehousing and distribution companies, Perkins says Reno is becoming a natural choice for high-tech companies as well. He says many Silicon Valley companies are moving out of that area because of its high cost of living and subsequently migrating to Sacramento. Reno, he says, is a logical next step for such firms because of the city’s quality of life and its low cost of doing business.
Silicon Valley emigres just need to get over their ideas of what they think Reno is like. Some Silicon Valley executives have Reno on their short list for potential locations, and Perkins has shown property to people told to check out the area. Perkins talks about one executive who was commuting from his home in San Diego to his business in San Jose and was skeptical about Reno despite what he’d been told about its benefits. “He came here prepared to discount it,” Perkins said, adding that the executive couldn’t believe the quality of life the area offered. “People lack an understanding of what’s here. Once they come here, they’re blown away by the beauty of the area,” he enthused. “It’s an issue of perception. We know what a great place this is to live in. In San Jose, they don’t.”
Making sure people get the correct idea about the area is one of Perkins’ goals, and he has been active with many economic committees throughout Washoe County, including a stint as chairman of the Economic Development Board. “I’m involved with a group called The Mavericks, which is a bunch of has-beens,” Perkins jokes, adding that the members of the group have all been in leadership positions in other organizations in the community. He also adds that he is impressed with the way development in the Thickee Meadows has progressed and how the area’s leaders are coming together to create a vision for the future rather than engaging in turf wars.
According to Perkins, it’s all a matter of being patient. Like with the executive from San Jose. Even though he didn’t end up relocating his company to Northern Nevada, Perkins says, he still found out what a great area this is and he may end up here in another 10 years.