Research, read and LISTEN.
Wilson McDowell is a Managing Director and Principal at Cite Partners, an Orlando, Florida-based commercial real estate firm. He has been active in the commercial real estate industry since 2005 and is consistently recognized as one of the top industrial real estate brokers in Central Florida. Wilson specializes in representing tenants, buyers, sellers and landlords in the disposition, acquisition, development and leasing of industrial real estate. He has had significant experience in site selection for new locations, consulting on current real estate assets and assisting industrial real estate users and investors with development and investment strategies. Wilson was the Managing Director of Industrial Services at Colliers International for nine years before starting Cite Partners. At Colliers, he was consistently ranked as one of the top brokers in the region. He graduated from Davidson College with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and takes pride in staying involved with the community.
Where did the idea for Cite Partners come from?
My business partner, Matthew Sullivan, and I always talked about starting our own business since we began working together in 2005. We wanted a company that was built on the idea that taking a team approach to a client’s success is the future of commercial real estate – and thus, founded Cite (Commitment. Integrity. Team. Excellence.). Our vision was to create a company that stimulates a competitive, rewarding and results-oriented environment that encourages strong internal and external relationships and allows the company to deliver exceptional results to clients. Now in our fourth year, this vision has worked out very well, as we’ve become one of the top corporate real estate firms in the Orlando and Central Florida markets.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
To say my days are nonstop is an understatement. A typical day starts out by waking up at 4:45am, getting a workout in and then heading to the office around 8am. I have found that exercising in the morning helps me be much more productive throughout the day. I don’t drink coffee so my workout tends to get my body moving first thing. I’m then usually on the phone by 7:30am and take calls all day until I’m on my way home later that evening. I normally have five or so calls scheduled during the day with an additional two to three meetings as well. I try to fit some free time in my schedule as much as I can to allow for new business prospects and chasing new leads.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It’s important to stay intentional about your time. My days are usually very busy and have a hundred different items I have to prioritize, so organization is key. Whenever a good idea is sparked, make sure to spend time on it to ensure it comes to life. Share it with your team members and help the idea flourish. If no one is championing a good idea – it will die.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Industrial real estate is a hot industry to be in right now and there are many investors and developers looking to get into this space. Being an expert in this field allows for me to help educate our clients to make the best investment decisions possible.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Getting up early and starting my day by exercising. Since caffeine doesn’t tend to do it for me, getting a good workout in every morning helps me be much more productive. I also workout with a group of guys so the comradery and peer pressure of not showing up is a big motivator to get me out of bed early in the morning.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Think big. Many times, when you’re just starting out you work on just about anything. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that by thinking bigger picture and spending more time figuring out how to create better opportunities for my situation, it would have helped me figure out much sooner what I was meant to do with my career.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I would have to say that just because I helped co-found a company, doesn’t mean I can’t listen to everyone’s thoughts, ideas and recommendations on what’s best for the company. We founded Cite based on a team approach, and I’m proud to be able as part owner to talk through most decisions and collaborate with all team members. This helps us really determine what is best for the company.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Research, read and LISTEN.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Hiring people – not just the positions. We are a small company and want to grow the firm as much as we can, and we’ve had that opportunity in the past to hire many people to fill positions. Looking back now, I’m glad we were more selective in the hiring process because culture is extremely important to our company, and we wanted to be a hundred percent sure that who we hired was the perfect fit.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Not winning all of the business that we compete for, I would have to say, is tough. However, it is really important to keep your head up and continue to find the next opportunity. In sales, as in life, you can’t win all the time. Most of my teammates have sports backgrounds so we all grew up with wins and losses. We try to keep our eyes downfield so that when we do lose, we learn from it, grow from it, and are better the next time. Being a small business in the CRE world requires grittiness and mental toughness.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Figure out how to efficiently track CRE data and sell it to CRE professionals. Many companies are trying to accomplish this now, but no one has been able to compete.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Taking a client out for drinks. Learning more about who the client is, what makes them tick and how they started their business is always invaluable information.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Salesforce. I have customized it to fit CRE and I use it all day, every day. It helps me keep track of all my leads information to help make interactions with customers and potential customers much easier.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim C. Collins. This is a great book on companies who have transitioned from being good companies to great companies, and how most fail to make the transition. Also, The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do by Mark Miller. Great book on how teams should operate to help transform any organization.
What is your favorite quote?
“You are either getting better or you are getting worse. There is no staying the same.” My college football coach used to say this a lot, but not sure who originally said it. Pretty much speaks to my life. I am trying to get better every day.
• Get up early, exercise and hit the ground running.
• Spend time with your clients and employees understanding their stories. You may learn something or, even better, help them become more successful.
• Use technology to help yourself stay efficient throughout the day. There is a fine line between technology helping you stay efficient and being burdensome.
• Believe in your ideas. Having a trustworthy business partner to talk through new ideas and who can tell you when a bad idea is bad, is invaluable.
• Find a great mentor.