Many of Terry Grapenthin‘s industry colleagues know him as a principal at Lee & Associates. What most don’t know is that when he’s not overseeing the company’s overall direction, Grapenthin enjoys thrilling adventures and spending time out on the boat, fishing. He hopes to one day check sky-diving off of his bucket list and even has a set back-up plan if commercial real estate doesn’t work.
In a Q&A interview with Grapenthin, Chicago Industrial Properties also found out what the father of two has been up to at Lee & Associates, and it’s fair to say that he’s been keeping busy with big-sized leases—recent ones include a 150,000-square-foot long-term lease in Woodridge, and a 200,000-square-foot lease in Bolingbrook.
Chicago Industrial Properties: What is your day-to-day like as a principal at Lee & Associates?
Terry Grapenthin: Along with my other partners and key employees, we are responsible for overseeing the company’s overall direction along with ensuring that Lee’s services, support, and reputation remain first in class in the industry.
CIP: What was it that sparked your interest in joining the industry?
Grapenthin: My father was in construction and did tenant improvement build-outs for owners in the Chicagoland area. Once I graduated from Purdue, he helped me get a few interviews with some commercial real estate companies. I always knew I would sell something; I just wasn’t sure what. I learned all about commercial buildings and buildouts while working with my Dad over the years and thought that real estate brokerage and the experience I had would sort of mesh together. I took a chance right out of college at a commercial real estate brokerage company after acquiring my license. I have since been providing brokerage services to clients for 14 years.
CIP: What’s kept you in the business?
Grapenthin: I believe it starts with hard work, dedication and a leap of faith that what you are doing will make sense, and all will come together with time. Market knowledge along with some solid guidance from my mentor collectively provided me with the knowledge to succeed. Once you have the knowledge of the commercial real estate market, the sky’s the limit in this business. I am a huge believer that how far you go and how successful you become starts and finishes with your reputation.
As someone once told me, “they have to like you before they hire you.” I believe this is achieved by practicing whatever you do in life with honesty, integrity, and ethics. It’s also about approaching every new and existing relationship with the mentality of “what can I help you with?” versus “what can you give me?” I’ve found that in doing this, you get back tenfold of what you gave. Additionally, remembering the people who helped you when you got started and practicing the “pay it forward” approach is how I try to operate on a daily basis.
CIP: What is your most memorable experience in real estate?
Grapenthin: The most memorable experience I have is a deal I worked on for a nonprofit state-funded special needs group that unfortunately given the demand of this certain illness, were in need of more space. They wanted to own a facility they could operate out of as a single user and grow the space needs to a size that could accommodate four times the children. Although my primary expertise was in industrial buildings, this happened to be an office requirement, so it wasn’t as easy for me to navigate. They had a particular area they needed to be in; they required a single story office, and financing would certainly be a challenge. After searching for this requirement whether it was on the market or not, I found one that worked. The right fit was not on the market at the time. I took a leap of faith and asked the Sellers if they would donate the building. The sellers happened to be a philanthropic family who owned the building free and clear. At the end of a long and very complicated deal, we were able to borrow the down stroke from a state funded outlet, get the seller to finance 60% and they were generous enough to donate 20% of the building cost. It was meant to be.
CIP: What recent deals have you been a part of?
Grapenthin: 150,000 SF long term lease in Woodridge on behalf of Prologis, leased 200,000 SF in Bolingbrook on behalf of KTR/Prologis and sold four to five 40,000-60,000 SF buildings in the I-55/I-80 corridor to users on behalf of private investors.
CIP: What are your hobbies outside the industry?
Grapenthin: Fish. Fishing is my passion. If this real estate thing doesn’t work out, I will take a run at professional bass fishing. My father got me hooked early on. We primarily fish for bass on the southern lakes, such as Lake of the Ozarks and Kentucky Lake. We have an annual Canada trip where we fish Pike, Muskie, and Walleye. My passion for fishing all started with the comradery of a father/son and friends trip which quickly turned into not only that but also a relatively competitive hobby. Just this last year my brother and I started getting into competitive bass tournaments and now can’t seem to get enough of them.
CIP: Your greatest accomplishment?
Grapenthin: My family. I have a wonderful wife I met in high school, and we have two children, Brooke, who is 6, and Molly who is 3. I am blessed to have all of them in my life, and it’s amazing to see them grow into wonderful children and know that I, along with my wife, carry the responsibility to teach them well and point them in the right direction.
CIP: What is on your list of goals for 2016?
Grapenthin: My personal goals are to become more involved on a community level in organizations where I can add value. On a professional level, my goal would be to continue to build the company with the right people in the submarkets we need to grow more presence. I also am looking to add one more person to our team in the company and expand our coverage in the I-55/I-80 corridors.
CIP: If you were to mark one thing off your bucket list?
Grapenthin: Skydive. I’ve always talked about doing it but have never made the time.
CIP: What’s one interesting thing about yourself that not many would know?
Grapenthin: At the age of 16, I was part of a soccer team that was assembled with Chicago players and went to Amsterdam, competed and won an international soccer tournament.