Tommy Van Zandt Surmounts Challenges of Disastrous Fall

by Rob Keys  on Monday, Mar. 22, 2010 12:00 am  

Tommy Van Zandt and his wife, Robyn, credit family and friends for sustaining them after Van Zandt broke his neck.

Van Zandt hasn't taken any delight in being right. Instead, he has tried to guide Sage Partners, the company he co-founded with Shaw in 2005, according to a core set of rules.

"We're not perfect," Van Zandt said. "We got into some deals we probably shouldn't have, but we sure weren't overrun with bad deals because we knew the situation would change pretty quickly. And it did."

What's Next?

The good news, Van Zandt said, is the northwest Arkansas market should rebound faster than the one in Dallas, which took about 10 years to correct. While the Dallas metro area has about 250 million SF of multi-tenant office space, northwest Arkansas has only about 6 million.

Van Zandt also believes any cuts made by businesses like Wal-Mart, J.B. Hunt and Tyson are minor compared with many of those in other industries and parts of the country. Those companies, Van Zandt said, make northwest Arkansas "a little more recession-proof than the rest of the country."

As for Sage, Van Zandt said business was down about 20 percent in 2009, but 2010 "has started very favorably, from what we're seeing."

"I think the dip is going to be short-lived," Van Zandt added. "I think in 2010 we're going to see a lot of light at the end of the tunnel."

Shaw and Sage partner David Erstine agreed. They said the company's market share had increased, which allowed Sage to turn a profit in 2009. That represents a continuation of a trend some other firms haven't been able to claim during the economic downturn.

They also pointed to corporate clients with heavyweight names like Disney, PepsiCo, Kimberly-Clark and Wal-Mart, in addition to locals like Washington Regional and Harps Food Stores. All of those have helped Sage in its continued leasing activity and building sales, and an out-of-area land transaction was an added boost.

Van Zandt's fingerprints are on many of those relationships.

“A lot of people were willing to stick with Sage because of their relationships with Tommy Van Zandt,” Erstine said.

A Prayer Answered

 

 

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