A member of CBRE’s agency and occupier brokerage groups, Cal Payne advises clients in the leasing, acquisition and disposition of industrial facilities throughout North America. Since 2012, he and his team have completed over 300 transactions totaling more than 24 million square feet and valued at over $850 million.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I’m the third of four children and I have two sisters and one brother. I went to Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland and Miami of Ohio for college. My dad and his brother own a custom home construction business that I worked at as a laborer throughout high school and college.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
When I was really young, I always wanted to play major league baseball…or drive a semi-truck. I guess I was all over the place! As I got older though, I grew an appreciation for my dad’s job which included managing various construction sites, meeting with families building homes and helping his subcontractors get the job done. He was always with people or on the phone or in the car. I liked how he spent his day interacting with people and wasn’t tied to a desk.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I asked my future father-in-law (my wife, Maria, and I were dating at the time) to introduce me to an industrial real estate broker he knew. From that introduction, I ended up being hired as an intern at Grubb & Ellis in Cleveland, where I worked two summers and one winter break during college. I spent my time there doing research and driving the various submarkets and I knew that I wanted to start a career in industrial brokerage. In my senior year of college, I started reaching out to various firms and brokers in Chicago and interviewing. After a…“unique” interview process, Matt Mulvihill and Kevin Segerson offered me a job as an associate broker on their team at CBRE and we have worked together now for nearly seven years.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
I’m lucky to have grown up with a lot of great role models. Professionally, Matt and Kevin taught me most of what I know about real estate, business development and executing a transaction. We frequently lean on each other to strategize on how to best navigate through all sorts of opportunities and challenges. My wife and I help each other reach our goals at work and she is pretty good at keeping me level-headed through all the ups and (more oftentimes) the downs that the real estate business can throw at you!
What does a day in the life of Cal Payne look like?
Every day is different, but I like to get in to the office early and get prepared for my day by setting up my calls and sending out emails before the whirlwind starts. From there, the wheels usually come off! If I can do some business development and get to the gym, I consider it a successful day.
What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy meeting business owners and operators and having the opportunity to tour distribution centers, warehouses, manufacturing plants and everything in between. It’s fun learning how things are made and learning what’s going on inside all the buildings we drive past daily. I enjoy business development as well. Hey, getting to go to Cubs games in the middle of the day and calling it “work” is pretty great!
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
One of my goals is to execute a redevelopment or land sale for a speculative industrial project in O’Hare and run it from beginning to end—from identifying the opportunity to cold call through lease-up and investment sale.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
If I’m not in the office, I’m probably in the car driving to a meeting or on a tour or sitting in traffic driving to or from downtown. I like to ride my bike on the lakefront or play tennis at Oz Park. There’s also probably a good chance you can find me at Antique Taco on Milwaukee at least once a week.
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
My wife and I traveled to Europe together in 2017 and we spent time in Paris, France and Bruges, Belgium. That was definitely one of my favorite vacations. The two cities are vastly different, but we enjoyed both very much for different reasons. The architecture, landscape, food and drinks were fantastic. We’d like to travel to Naples and the Amalfi Coast in Italy next.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?