By Katie Peters
“A boutique mentality with the bench strength of big firm,” says Aaron Kuhl, a member of Plaza Companies’ new powerhouse Brokerage Services Team, when asked to sum up what Plaza offers that other medical centered firms might not. His teammates are quick to agree.
“This is family,” affirms Megan Sherwood, who has spent a total of 15 years with Plaza Companies during her career.
The local team of five brings more than a century of combined years of experience and thousands of transactions to the table, and by all accounts they have built successful and respected careers in the Phoenix commercial real estate market on their own. Some of the most recognized names in the Valley’s medical office sector, they each bring with them a unique set of skills and perspectives honed from years of experience in commercial real estate.
Megan Sherwood and Perry Gabuzzi, Executive Vice President and Vice President of Brokerage Services respectively, made the move from Transwestern, and they bring with them a medical office portfolio of almost 1 million square feet. Aaron Kuhl, founder of Medical Office Brokers (MOB) and Senior Vice President of Brokerage Services brings extensive expertise in third-
party leasing and investment sales to Plaza’s new team as well the partnership of Michael Morton, former MOB agent and now Vice President of Brokerage Services. The team is also joined by Vice President of Brokerage Services Margaret Lloyd, who has over 29 years of experience in the leasing, sales and development of commercial real estate in Arizona, with four of those years at Plaza. At Plaza, she has been involved in the leasing and sales of 1 million SF of medical office properties. With a line up like this, Plaza’s newest brokerage team is certainly deserving of their stellar reputation.
Making the Move to Plaza
“Over the last year or so, Michael and I had been paying very close attention to the subtle shifts that were happening in the medical sector and began to recognize certain things,” recalls Kuhl. “We had been doing solely individual-operator tenant rep with Medical Office Brokers, and we recognized the need to evolve.
“We began talking with Perry and Megan about similar things and the ideas they had about what that “evolution” might look like and where it might land us; they were the ones who brought Plaza to the table for us and when it came down to it, it was the right fit and the right time for all of us.”
What that “fit” entailed was a platform and track record that is almost unmatched in the medical office building sector driven by the vision of Sharon Harper, Plaza Companies president & CEO. “Sharon is such a visionary and is truly an ambassador for us,” says Gabuzzi. “She is constantly looking out for opportunities to help us achieve our goals. It is not abnormal for me to get an email from her asking ‘What do you think about this? Can I open a door for you here?’ I’ve never had a managing director do something like that.”
“Sharon is terrific in that if she has the right people in place she won’t micromanage,” maintains Sherwood. “She has complete faith in us and what we’re doing.” And what they’re doing is definitely starting to make waves in Phoenix’s medical sector, which is all too evident in their first major deal since joining Plaza in April.
In early June, Plaza Companies announced their new Brokerage Services Team has been awarded the leasing and brokerage services for a large medical office portfolio in Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale. This portfolio, which totals over 795,000 square feet across 15 properties, significantly expands Plaza’s overall leasing portfolio, particularly its already strong footprint in Scottsdale.
The portfolio, which was purchased from Scottsdale Healthcare last year, is now owned by Healthcare Properties, Inc. (HCP), who Kuhl and Morton were already very familiar with from their days at MOB.
“We had been working with them on the tenant side for years,” says Kuhl, “and in the past had talked about doing things on the listing side. But when it came down to it they told us, we really like the work you’ve been doing, but you just don’t have the infrastructure for what we want from our listing broker.
“But, shortly after the move to Plaza, I was having lunch with ownership representatives. We were talking about what they had going on and the move Michael and I had just made. They expressed some of the challenges they were having meeting their expectations. I recognized the opportunity to bring in my new team and show them what we could offer them from our new platform with Plaza.”
Within days, Plaza announced another major relationship and commitment with Vancouver based Talia Jevan Properties for the
Class A medical office LifePrint Health Center building adjacent to the John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital campus. The agreement was the result of a collaboration between the Leasing, Property Management, and Construction teams at Plaza.
While the HCP portfolio and the new addition of LifePrint Health Center’s leasing, property management and construction services are major coups for Plaza’s new team, especially considering the speed with which they were accomplished, the brokers are quick to point out that the “transaction-first” mentality you might find at other firms has no place in their business plan.
“This is an area of the industry that requires incredible patience,” explains Lloyd. “We’re working with doctors and other medical personnel whose focus is on saving lives and serving patients and not necessarily what the best real estate situation is for them. That’s where we come in. Our job is to guide them to make the best decision for their practice so they can focus on their patients. And, all of our existing owners and tenants receive the same dedication and commitment.”
Kuhl agrees, “There has really been a deficiency in the medical sector. When the market is down people will flood this area, but when the market cycles up folks will run back to office or multifamily or wherever they came from because the transactions are quicker and because the medical sector can require so much more patience than others. And that’s too bad because there needs to be staying power to build relationships and trust with clients, hospital systems, and owners.”
That service-first mentality is easy to recognize as the team discusses their goals moving forward. Morton sums it up best, “I feel like we’re almost holding back right now. We don’t want deals for the sake of deals. Yes, transactions are at the heart of what we do, but we are really focused on making sure we have the right things in place for our existing clients. Those relationships need to be taken care of before and as we go out and develop new business.”
New business is definitely part of the plan, and if the last 90 days are any indication business is definitely going to grow. However, the Plaza team stresses the importance of the right kind of business and that the support and synergy created by the Property and Construction Management teams enhances the satisfaction of the clients. The need for a symbiotic relationship between owner/operators and tenant/users is ever-present as they shape deals.
Says Kuhl, “Our goal is to create value for those we work with, no matter the side of the transaction – to create value for others and the industry as a whole.”