The News Funnel Spotlight: Allen Buchanan of Lee & Associates Orange
The News Funnel is excited to launch a new interview series called 'Spotlight'. Throughout the year, we will be profiling professionals with interesting lives in and out of commercial real estate.
This week, learn more about Allen Buchanan, principal and shareholder at Lee & Associates Orange Incorporated, who specializes in industrial assets and New Orleans second line parades:
Tell us your name, where you are from, and a little about yourself:
My name is Allen Buchanan, I grew up in a place called Texarkana, Arkansas, which became famous because it is halfway through Dallas and Little Rock. It is a burgeoning metropolis because [there’s] a lot of gas stations and a lot of bathroom breaks.
Who do you work for?
I am a principal and shareholder with Lee and Associates Orange Incorporated.
How long have you been working in CRE?
35 and a half years.
When did you know you wanted to work in CRE, or how did you get involved in CRE?
I grew up in a family-owned business, we bottled and distributed Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, and 7-Up. I grew up probably thinking that I probably would end up taking over the family business. Being in the consumer goods trade, I went to college at the University of Arkansas. My dad, on completion of my degree, said “you have no experience- go out and get some, and then I’ll think about hiring you.” So I moved to California; went to work at Proctor and Gamble. I left my sweetheart back in Arkansas, realized I made a huge error, called her and said “hey, we need to get married.”
So [we] got married and I was in the consumer goods business for five years, and never went back to the state of Arkansas. But the reason I left the consumer goods business is I realized that, if you increase your level of responsibility, and your geography purposes, they put a lid on how much money you can make. So I really wanted to get into a business where I could come home every night, wouldn’t have to get on a plane unless I wanted to, and that there was an unlimited potential in terms of earnings. So that is why I chose commercial real estate.
What really attracted me to commercial real estate was, yes, you’re selling a service, but you’re also selling a product. A tangible asset, as opposed to a certificate of stock, or a policy of insurance, or airtime for advertising, or in your case, digital space for advertising. So there was an appeal, and I didn’t realize at the time, but my family owned and occupied commercial real estate. I never even thought of commercial real estate as a thing; everyone thinks of residential but they don’t think of commercial real estate. So, it all just really tied in to transition together.
What do you do in CRE?
I am an industrial specialist, and I represent owners and occupants of industrial buildings in southern California. In general those are closely-held manufacturing distribution companies, where I can sit face-to-face with the owner, occupant of the building and the business. Typically, our clientele are experiencing some sort of a transition— the company has been bought or sold, they’re experiencing a dramatic increase in sales volume, they have a transition in terms of the succession, they’ve been acquired or they’ve acquired a competitor—something has occurred in their business which has generated a real estate requirement, and that is my speciality.
Outside of CRE, what do you like to do?
Love movies. [My wife and I] are vegan so we love trying new vegan restaurants, and there are a ton of them in southern California which makes it really really easy. [My] wife has a home business that we enjoy strategizing and figuring out new ways to do things with her business. We’re big family people, our son-in-law works with me, our daughter and their two sons live two doors down so we are a big active part in their lives.
When did you become vegan, and realized this lifestyle suited you?
We became vegan in 2014 and sort of nudged up to that point for a myriad of reasons, but we had some good friends that had some health issues and we started researching why that could be at such early ages, and so much of it is food-based.
The food industry in the united states is so awful in terms of the way they treat animals, and the way they preserve and prop-up meats is so horrible for you and the environment. We decided to try plant-based, and now it’s really become quite something. For example, the Golden Globes Awards, the dinner beforehand was all plant-based.
What is the name of your wife’s business?
Her business is called Business Brandings. It started out as a promotional advertising company, and it morphed into a company that designs, manufactures and distributes wedding items predominantly for weddings in Louisiana. The wedding items that she makes are called second line handkerchiefs, you probably saw a second line parade and didn’t even think of it. They started in New Orleans, primarily for funerals.
We also create items for second line parades for other major events- weddings, birthdays you name it. We manufacture the handkerchiefs that folks wave, the umbrellas the bride and groom carry, we manufacture what are called “cake pulls”, which are a southern tradition, and generally are contained in wedding cakes.
How long have you been doing it?
We formed business brandings in 2011 (9 years ago).
Tell a funny or interesting story related to Business Brandings:
Probably the coolest story that I can recall is—I mentioned I grew up in Texarkana, Arkansas—one of my classmates, a few years older, put on Facebook that they had just concluded a wedding in New Orleans. She had some videos and some photos and lo and behold- the bride was carrying an umbrella, and all the people were carrying these handkerchiefs, and I thought- that’s a little chintzy that they didn’t order from me.
Clearly we’re Facebook friends, she knows what we’re doing, and I don’t make it a secret. Lo and behold— she didn’t order them, but her daughter-in-law had— different name, different city entirely than where her son was in Texarkana. It was a very small world story that they had in fact found us and used our product, not even knowing the family connection.
What is one piece of advice that you would offer to the person reading this?
The rule I live by is, “do what you say you’re gonna do when you say you’re going to do it.” And really, I base everything in my life around that slogan. I would give that advice generally, specifically as it pertains to commercial real estate brokerage. Regardless of what anyone tells you, commercial real estate is still a hyper-local business, and you should treat it as such.
Would you like to nominate a commerical real estate professional you know with special interests for a Spotlight on The News Funnel? Please contact Sierra at email@example.com