If people's destinies are written in the stars, all David M. Harrison, director, Real Estate Development at Opus Northwest LLC, Overland Park, KS, sees when he looks up at the night sky is real estate. Even prior to graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Harrison found himself in the role of business partner for a residential design firm. Post-graduation, he worked for a regional real estate firm in brokerage. And even after a two-year hiatus from the field, he found himself back among Kansas City's real estate professionals.
While serving as president for DDI Commercial Inc. throughout the '90s, Harrison dealt with Opus during the sale of a number of sites located at an office park DDI was developing. I had a great appreciation for the philosophy of the company and the people. That's what led me, three-and-a-half or four years ago, to start discussions with Opus regarding a full-blown operations office in Kansas City,” Harrison explains.
While Opus had built approximately 1 million square feet in the Kansas City area prior to 2000, this development was largely handled out of the company's Minneapolis office. The company was dedicated to establishing an operational office in the area, and put Harrison in charge. The thing I have enjoyed most is establishing Opus as a local player here “as opposed to an out-of-town, national developer. Because of what Opus does from a civic and philanthropic standpoint, probably the most satisfying thing over the last three-and-a-half years is that Opus is considered part of this community now and not some outsider,” he explains. The opportunity has been rewarding “and challenging, too.
In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Kansas City office, Harrison is responsible for identifying and pursuing development opportunities in the area. While economic conditions have many taking a glass-half-empty” attitude, Harrison looks realistically at the market and sees signs of a silver lining. We've got infinitely more front-end activity now and decisions are becoming closer and closer to being made, so I'm real positive about the future,” Harrison notes.
There are transactions that we're working on now that in a ˜blow and go' economy [the customer] would have to make decisions in a four-month period,” he explains. That now could be a year or two-year decision-making process.” With decision-making having slowed considerably on new development projects, Harrison has learned that a healthy dose of patience and good customer service provide a win-win situation for everyone.
Jana J. Madsen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor at Buildings magazine.