Dave Dabson, RPA, CPM, CCIM
Director, Asset and Property Management
I joined Beacon Partners in spring 2019 as the Director, Asset and Property Management. Founded in 1989, Beacon Partners is one of the largest privately held owners of industrial and office properties in the Carolinas. We have invested over 1.5B in real estate projects and developed and acquired in excess of 24.5M SF. Today we lease, own or manage more than 10M SF of property throughout the Carolinas. Our primary focus is acquiring and developing well located industrial and urban infill office and mixed-use properties. We also provide third-party property management, project management and leasing services to institutional and privately held clients.
My wife Michele and I are empty nesters streamlining our relocation from Minneapolis to Charlotte in 2019 where we hope to escape the Midwest winters and explore day trips from the mountains to the beaches. We have 4 grown children with our youngest graduating from college this fall. (Just sent my last tuition check!) We have 5 Wisconsin Badger and one Minnesota Gopher grad(s) in the family which does not bode well for an equitable family rivalry.
I spent nearly all of my 33+ year career in commercial property management and leasing with the first 30+ years in Minneapolis. Throughout my career I have enjoyed positions ranging from managing parking facilities to mixed portfolios of suburban office, retail and industrial properties to downtown 1M+ SF office towers. I have had the opportunity to hold direct property management, City Leadership, Regional Management and Department VP roles for third party, private and public companies. Each role has offered a unique challenge and I have never stopped learning from those around me. A common theme to the positions I have migrated to over the years has been being part of a team and a culture that promotes an entrepreneurial spirit.
My first job was as a paperboy for the local daily paper delivered after school. I became a master at folding the paper and launching it from my bicycle on to the customers' front porch nearly every time! I honed my rent collection skills, 65 cents at a time per week. My recourse was stopping to deliver the paper and that usually resulted in payment. Rent collections should be so easy!
Best advice for emerging professionals
Take advantage of opportunities to meet people that want to meet you. You will likely learn something new. Ask questions and be curious. I tell everyone that everything I know about building operations I have learned from an expert in their field be it architecture, elevator design and maintenance, asphalt specifications (which by the way are very different here from the Midwest) and roofing options to name a few.
Identify a network of peers outside of your company to use a resource to share information. Its very helpful to know how other people think. Since my arrival in Charlotte people such as David Pitser, Tom Pizzo, Elizabeth Fulk, and Heather Thompson to name a few have been gracious enough to spend some networking time with me and share thoughts on issues. It's great comfort to know you have people in the industry that will assist if they can. What goes around, comes around.
Most valuable skill needed for career in property management
Listen! The most valuable skill in our industry is to be a good, active listener. Take a sincere interest in the information people are sharing with you and you will gain their respect regardless if they agree or disagree with you. People want and deserve to be heard.
Favorite aspect of a career in property management
People, teamwork and building relationships! I enjoy assisting others solve problems through mentoring and training. If you don't like people, this may not be the best career path for you. Working from home has been a challenge for me. Zoom is just not the same!
Why did you join BOMA?
My first property management boss and wonderful career and life mentor, Dick McGinley in Minneapolis, told me that BOMA was my path to learning the business through its networking and educational opportunities. I drank the Kool aid and dove headfirst into the education, earning my RPA, the programming, committee work and advocacy. While my career positions have offered me professional development, I credit my early leadership and relationship development skills to the opportunities BOMA and other real estate organizations offered me as a committee chair, board member and eventual Chair of the local and statewide association. Local leadership lead to my involvement in BOMA International where I have met great people in our industry from throughout the world.
The more connections you create, the more access you will have to the knowledge you will need. It's not how much you know, its your ability to identify the right resources and people to solve the problem. BOMA has done that for me throughout my career at every level.
Lastly, let's not forget the great events and friends you develop through BOMA. Many of my lifelong friends are those I met in my first RPA class 33 years ago! I look forward to getting to know you, BOMA Charlotte and the community better in the coming years!
How have you seen BOMA change over the years?
As a new member of BOMA Charlotte I'll touch on my "change" perspective from BOMA International. BOMA has grown with the individuals it serves by transitioning from an operational focused trade association to a multi-faceted industry leader in advocacy, forecasting and research for our industry. This has attracted the institutional owner/asset manager to the organization making it easier for local members to sell the value of the organization to our employers and clients. The organization continues to do the blocking and tackling it has always done representing the industry in codes, regulations, energy and environmental reforms, not to mention most recently providing valuable resources to deal with COVID-19.
The other major change at BOMA International over the years of my involvement is the evolution of the meaning of "International." It used to mean Canada! The involvement now of members from China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, Mexico and more is an enriching experience to understand the cultures and business approach elsewhere in the world.
I ran my first marathon a couple of years ago after being challenged by my kids to do so. I hope to run the Charlotte Marathon in the next couple of years.
Favorite thing about Charlotte
As recent transplants to Charlotte my wife and I spent nearly a year living in South End to learn the vibe of the community. Prior to the COVID shutdown we loved the walkability, activity and great social venues of the city. We have since migrated to Cornelius to be close to our boat and Lake Norman. Lake Norman sealed the deal on our first visit to Charlotte as a place we wanted to be. Image, a climate where the lake never freezes over......
Previously with Childress Klein/Wells Fargo account.
Looking at next phase of career
- I was a struggling stock broker, when my wife, Robin Turner with O'Leary Waste (at the time she was with Container Corp of Carolinas) introduced me to commercial property management. It's the one thing I have never forgiven her for. I met David Corpening and Steve Banner, joined IREM and started looking for a job. That first job came from Vinson Realty (which over time morphed into the Charlotte Colliers Int. firm). My first portfolio (over 100 industrial, retail and office buildings) were scattered around the area, but many were in NODA, which was not known as NODA then, but could be an exciting area to go in its own way when collecting rent in person or evicting tenants. Many were also in South End, which again was not known as South End and was definitely not a cool area of Charlotte as it is today. That job led me to Carter and Associates out of Atlanta, Barloworld Limited, out of South Africa, Lincoln Harris and Childress Klein.
- I will mention three, Steve Maye, who owned Steve Maye and Associates, George Lipscomb with Carter and Associates and Dave Cannon with Nexsen Pruet. Steve took an interest in me before my first real estate job, helping me learn the lay of the land in Charlotte, introducing me to his network and allowing me to shadow him for several weeks while I decided if I should enter the industry. He helped me land my first job.
George completed crossword puzzles during meetings and yet somehow was always on point with the ability to get to the crux of the meeting. He had so many sayings, to get his point across. I called them "Georgisms". Two I particularly liked were, "do not do things yourself, if there are others that can do them just as well or better" and " you get what you inspect, not what you expect" (he may not have authored that one, but he used it a lot).
Dave Cannon taught me about leases, negotiation, transaction contracts, purchasing and disposing of assets. I relied on his advice often during my time with Barloworld.
- Find mentors. There are many veterans of our industry out there, with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that are willing to help young professionals develop. In most cases, they are not seeking mentees, but will respond to those who approach them.
Develop your network and relationships by being involved with professional organizations like BOMA. It is difficult, because we have demanding jobs and demanding clients. I have not heeded my own advice as diligently as I should during my career, so do not as I did, but as I say.
Build a respected reputation and protect it. It takes some time to build, but can be destroyed quickly.
- Learn how to how hire BOMA Allied member vendors! Although, I write that tongue in cheek and to show my appreciation for one or two cocktails I may have received over the years from vendors, we cannot function without good vendor partnerships. Learn to develop, manage and make use of those resources.
There is no one most valuable skill in our industry. Every assignment is unique, requiring a different set of skills. The universal skill needed is to be able to determine what the assignment requires and assemble the resources that can fulfill the need. That may be yourself, someone on your team, a new hire, a consultant, a vendor, etc. In most cases, the skills required will come from a combination of those sources.
- The variety of things we get to do and have the opportunity to do in this profession. I have unclogged toilets, designed buildings, figured out how to get race cars in lobbies, sourced national vehicle rental agreements and everything in between.
We start each day with a plan as to what we are going to do, but rarely is that plan executed fully, because something more urgent always comes up. It is not for everyone, but good property managers thrive on it.
- My first boss at Vinson Realty had a CPM designation from IREM and he got me involved with IREM and on the CPM track. At Carter and Associates, one of my bosses, Rutledge Beacham, was president of the BOMA Southern Region. Rutledge had the moniker, "the godfather of property management" and of course encouraged me to get involved with BOMA for the education and networking opportunities.
- I really enjoy adventure activities, jumping out of planes, white water rafting, bungee jumping, stock car driving, rope courses, roller coasters, being married to Robin and the like. If there is bit of danger, I am in.
- Charlotte has always been a friendly, welcoming southern city with a great climate. New development makes it an exciting and fun city now. However, my favorite thing about Charlotte is that I can walk from my house to see my grandkids, Monroe (Momo) and Cameron (plus a slight detour allows me to visit a couple of breweries on the walk back).
The Dilweg Companies, LLC
- My first career was actually in the commercial construction industry. I started as a laborer for a GC based in the Winston-Salem area when I was 19 years old. I worked my way up from there and was hired by Prestige Building Company as a Superintendent. When the economy crashed in 2008, I unfortunately had to be laid off. I applied for a maintenance technician position with CBRE and Tom Matthews gave me a shot as a roving engineer. I worked for CBRE for about four years before the buildings sold and Cassidy Turley (Cushman & Wakefield) took over as management. I ended up working for C & W for four years as well. Then The Dilweg Companies stepped in, purchased the property and asked me to stay onboard. I was still doing maintenance when the Facility Supervisor position presented itself. I told the Director I was interested in this position and they took a chance on me. So here I am, and very thankful to CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield and The Dilweg Companies for getting me to this point in my career.
- Well, this is a hard one! I've been fortunate to learn from a number of people in the construction and property management industry. I've been able to learn so many things from great superintendents, maintenance technicians, building engineers, property managers and some very important vendors. Hopefully the ones that have impacted my life and career know how much they have helped me. And if they do not, A VERY BIG THANK YOU to all of you that have crossed my path and helped mold me into the professional I am today!!!
- I would say to never quit on your goals no matter how hard they may be to reach. EVERYTHING is possible if you want it bad enough. Lean on other professional's to help you along the way when you do not know something. Never be afraid of asking a "dumb" question. There is no such thing. Also, networking is a great way to meet new people which creates opportunity and relationships that last a lifetime. Thanks to organizations like BOMA for having these opportunities!
- I'll speak on behalf of all of the building engineers out there. First, customer service is key. You need to have this value with your tenants and vendors. That will take you a long way in this industry. Secondly, always use your skills to find a resolution for a problem or issue that may arise instead of being quick to call a coworker or vendor. This has helped me a lot. However, never hesitate to reach out to those people if really need them. They are always there to help you. Lastly, I would say, be a good team player. We all have our strengths and weaknesses but as a team, you can accomplish so much!
- There are so many opportunities for you in property management. It also gives me a chance to deal with construction, which I loved.
- I've had multiple coworkers and vendors that are members who urged me to join because of the networking opportunity.
- I was the South Stokes senior class of 1999 mock Homecoming Queen. (Picture not available, LOL!)
- It's a growing, vibrant city with unlimited opportunity. Also, there is a ton of sporting teams here! I love my sports!!!
SARAH GIBBS, RPA, FMA
CORPORATE REAL ESTATE
- After college, I started with Apartment Finders in Birmingham, AL which is a long way from upstate New York where I grew up and went to college! I had a knack for finding apartments for people and I really enjoyed meeting so many different people who were moving to Birmingham. I was subsequently asked to join Capstone Development, who developed and leased furnished apartments to college students at SEC colleges, and moved to Athens, GA.
- After 4 years in the south, I returned to NYS and worked my way up from an apartment complex Leasing Agent to Site Manager and then to Property Manager for five complexes. A few years later, I took a job with an Albany-based commercial real estate developer as a Property Manager where I learned the ropes. Fast forward to 2015, I was a volunteer at a "Rocking on the River" concert event and I met my would-be husband! We married in 2017 and moved to Charlotte to get away from all of the snow and cold. I interviewed with U.S. Bank before departing NYS and received the job offer for Property/Facility Manager for the Metro Markets East Region while I was crossing the border between VA into NC! When it's meant to be, it's meant to be! I currently manage 46 sites in ten states along the east coast between NYC & Dallas and I love every minute of it!!
- I've had so many mentors over the years, all of whom have taught me so much at different stages of my life and career. When I was just starting out, an older Property Manager taught me how to compose a well written business letter, which I still model today and comes in handy when I have bad news to break, but in a friendly but professional manner. He also told me that one phone call is the equivalent of 20 emails (Don't hide behind emails! Get out there, build lasting relationships and become a strong communicator).
- When I moved to the commercial side of real estate, a wonderful man and owner of a HVAC company took me under his wing and taught me everything about commercial HVAC systems. It was so helpful when I was working toward my RPA designation (Bldg. Operations) and we developed such a nice long-lasting friendship. I've always valued my vendor relationships and consider them my trusted partners.
- Still later in life, I was involved in a Leadership Program with the Rensselaer Chamber. I met and became the mentee of a dynamic generous woman and Sr. VP of a community bank in Albany, NY. We would frequently meet over breakfast to talk about my career. One thing she taught me was the benefits of enhancing my staff's unique abilities in order to help them develop their own leadership skills, which in turn would further enhance my leadership skillsets.
- My advice is to get a mentor, if you don't already have one or two, and then become one yourself to reap the benefits of this type of relationship!
- Life will throw you some curveballs, it always does. But shake yourself off, learn to laugh at yourself, reflect on what you learned from the disappointment, and then get back in the game. When I was younger, I would get defensive if my manager tried to correct me. Then I realized that she wouldn't bother with the critique if she didn't think I could learn from it and grow! So now I embrace reviews and I always ask what I can do better to serve the company and customers.
- Don't multitask while talking to someone. They can hear you clicking on the computer! Better yet, go meet them in person or video chat (remember the phone call/email note above!). You need to be present in mind, be accountable for your actions, be dependable, and enjoy your time with the other person(s) in order to develop trusting and successful relationships.
- I love this career because it's so multi-faceted. No two days are ever the same, you get to move around to all of the different sites, develop long-lasting relationships with internal and external customers, and there is always a challenging situation to learn from.
- I joined BOMA-Capital Region (Albany, NY) in 1997 in order to meet other people in the industry and attend the informative luncheon meetings. Shortly thereafter, I spent 2.5 years earning my RPA and FMA from BOMI (they didn't offer the accelerated courses back then). I served on the BOMA Board for years and was President for three consecutive years. I think I've chaired every committee at one time or another. I always enjoyed attending the National Issues Conference in Washington, DC and Regional and International Conferences. The people you meet in this organization are remarkable and you gain so much out of BOMA, but only if you get involved and participate. When I started with U.S. Bank, I was responsible for 86 sites in 19 states and I traveled frequently. We have since hired another Property/Facility Manager to share the load with me, which has allowed me more time to follow my passions, which includes participating in BOMA events and getting to know fellow Charlotte Principal and Allied Members.
- I love to hike, cook, garden and I am an avid history buff.
- The climate initially drew us here and the fact that it's such a captivating city that is growing and vibrant! We love where we live (Mtn. Island Lake) and my husband and I are having a blast exploring the many restaurants in Charlotte and taking mini-vacations in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
SE REGIONAL PROPERTY MGR
- Originally born in London, U.K., and moved to the states very young. Grew up mostly in Atlanta, GA where I entered into the CRE world at only 20 years old! 17 years later, still going strong and couldn't have chosen a better city to land in for my work.
- I have had so many wonderful mentors along my career path, each of them had something unique within them, they all had their own creative piece of the puzzle and I was able to take away a little piece of each of them and carry it on.
- Be involved, insert yourself into the vision you believe in . Be visible to your company and colleagues and learn as much about your industry as you can, the responsibilities are key but learning about anything in general is human health.
- Being positive! As many jobs go, there is much more room in the world for negativity. Finding the positive in situations, opens many more doors.
- My property management team! I couldn't do my job without everyone else working the same goal with me. The team is what defines the achievements.
- I joined BOMA to meet people in the industry, and the golf outings! There are so many folks in the industry that have a lot to offer. I have also made some truly wonderful friends along the way as well.
- I became a lot more involved in BOMA as I learned about the TOBY awards, I thought it was such a great concept to challenge the properties and let them have a presence to shine in. TOBYs are to show the filed that there are great performers out there and owners that truly care for their assets. I have been a fortunate recipient of an International TOBY and a few Regionals TOBYs. I am also a proud; local, regional and international judge when needed.
Favorite thing about Charlotte:
- The food! We have quite the arrangement of A+ cuisines in the city and we continue to bring more and more here.
MELINDA HOPKINS, RPA, FMA
- My family moved to Charlotte from Atlanta, Georgia when I was about 9 months old. Not quite a native but say I am since there aren't many residents that are actually from Charlotte. I have worked in the Property Management industry for over 20-years, starting in Facilities and have moved back and forth between facility management and property management over this period.
- I've been blessed with so many in my life, naming one is impossible. Every place I've spent time, whether personal or professional, there has always been someone who I admired and learned from. In property management, I would say that I've had the privilege of working with some very intelligent and strong women who taught me so much about this industry. On a personal level, one co-worker many years ago taught me to always look for the positive in people and situations.
- Never stop learning. Every day provides an opportunity to learn something new, gain new insights to a situation being worked thru, or discover a better way to handle the next "crises". Each day is a new experience in this industry. Listen to those around you, ask questions and never hesitate to ask for help or advice.
- Keep a level head and be flexible. Your day will never go as planned, the schedule changes constantly, and there is always a real or imagined fire to put out. Being able to stay calm and work thru whatever has been thrown at you is critical to your success (and sanity?).
- The relationships built with everyone. You can develop long-term relationships with co-workers, tenants, vendors, etc. It is a challenging career with many ups and downs but I love the fact that no two days are ever the same.
- While still new in the industry, I was encouraged to join BOMA to learn more about the industry and earn an RPA, and later FMA designations.
Favorite thing about Charlotte:
- It is a beautiful city that enjoys all the seasons!
NAI SOUTHERN REAL ESTATE
- I grew up in Charlotte, so I feel like Charlotte native. I am a proud South Mecklenburg Sabre. I graduated from Winthrop University where I majored in marketing. During high school and college, I worked at Carowinds, I worked there for 10 seasons. I have been in 3rd party property management for my entire career and in that time, I have worked for only 2 firms. I have been lucky enough to have been in property management for over 37 years and received my RPA designation in 1987. Getting my designation was one of the best achievements in my career.
- It would have to be the person that gave me my opportunity in property management, Charlie Madsen, he was a great mentor, but he was a better friend. Charlie always set the bar very high for me and he was a great teacher, he always knew the answer before he asked the question.
- My best advice is to live a healthy lifestyle, learn to live with incompleteness and always be sharpening the saw, and always try to be better today than you were yesterday.
- In the real time world, we seem to live in it is important to be able to manage your time effectively since there are so many time wasters, but a manager must also possess effective intrapersonal skills which include effective written and verbal communication.
- I have really enjoy never having 2 days alike. But the best thing about property management is having the opportunity to meet so many different people and being able to work with so many extremely talented people over my career.
- I initially joined BOMA for the networking and the education offerings but being a member of BOMA has enhanced my professional career in so many ways. When I first started my real estate career, BOMA was the one organization which I was told you must be a member of. I believe that is as true today as it was 37 years ago. The real difference between then and now is all the activities where BOMA members give back to the community, Ronald McDonald House, supporting our troops, etc.
Favorite thing about Charlotte:
- I have enjoyed seeing the growth of the city. Charlotte is so much more dynamic than it has ever been. I am not sure that there have many places better than Charlotte for real estate management. The number of career opportunities that have been available is tremendous.