Your grandfather, Jack Sr., is the company’s president and owner. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came into the family business? During my college days, I was an intern for my grandad. When I graduated from MU, my grandad offered to mentor me in the field of commercial real estate with a spot in the family business. Learning from a commercial broker who has more than 30 years in the business was a rare opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
What’s the demand like for commercial real estate in Columbia right now? When Columbia reached the 100,000 population milestone, we qualified for a new criteria of retailers. That, along with the introduction of MU to the SEC, has exposed Columbia to a completely new element.
Do you see that changing any time soon? Why or why not? As the fourth largest market in Missouri, we see no decline in demand. Location, Location, Location — Go Mizzou!
You have a few properties north of I-70 listed right now — what do you think the future of north Columbia looks like? Before the financial crisis of 2008, northern and southern Columbia were growing at the same pace. We’re starting to see more residential build-up in the northern region of Columbia, and those residents will need retail closer to their homes. Our goal in developing Blue Ridge Town Centre is to provide the necessary services to residents in the Blue Ridge area that may have to drive a considerable distance to find products they need on a daily basis. We believe this market to be the next major development.
How has the market changed in the last five years? The national market has painted a picture of doom and gloom for big box retailers, many of whom are downsizing or going bankrupt due to the growth of online retail. It will be interesting to see how the larger shopping centers in the area adapt.
Looking ahead, how do you think the market will change in the next five years? It’ll be interesting to see the battle between Amazon and Walmart. Online is growing, but nothing will ever replace the need for brick-and-mortar stores — a vast majority of customers will need to see and touch the product.
What does an ideal client for Maher look like? Our company assists individuals looking to purchase or lease commercial property. We also identify investment property to complete a 1031 exchange. Although our company is just over five years old, many of our brokers have been working in the Columbia area for more than 40 years, giving us a good grasp on who to contact to get a deal done.
How does Maher try to differentiate itself to potential buyers? We listen to our clients, and we’re more interested in building relationships than turning a deal. If our clients are successful, we succeed.
What type of commercial property is selling best right now? Retail investment property has been in high demand for some time now. My grandad specializes in single tenant properties to provide investors no management responsibilities with as little risk as possible.
What do you find most rewarding about the work you do? Helping small businesses save money in lease negotiations, finding new locations for companies that will allow their businesses to grow, and bringing new business into town that provides jobs for Columbia residents.
If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be? We need to do a better job of educating the general public on the benefits that commercial development provides. Developers are often shown to be devils that prey on residents, and the opposite is usually true. Sales and real estate taxes driven by commercial developers allow the economy to thrive, grow, and support our schools and community.