Janet Weir is one tough woman. Don’t be deceived by the soft, lulling tones of her Alabama accent. A frequent hiker of the Grand Canyon, Weir has tackled many challenges – especially over her 20-year career in the commercial real estate industry. As director of Property Management with Birmingham, AL-based Harbert Realty Services Inc., she coordinates the management of a 32-story high-rise in the city’s downtown, and serves as a liaison to property managers in 21 facilities throughout the Southeast.
Managing the 623,000-square-foot, mixed-use (office and retail) tower has been the focus of Weir’s more-than-12-year career with Harbert Realty, a privately held, full-service commercial real estate company responsible for the management, leasing, and asset management of more than 3.5 million square feet of office, retail, and industrial space. “The greatest highlight, even though I’ve been in the business for so long, was the opening of this building 12 years ago. Being involved with moving in all the tenants and establishing the operating procedures from the beginning was a very rewarding process,” she explains.
New challenges have tasked Weir and the 10 management employees she supervises to examine and reassess life-safety operating procedures. Prior to September 11th, tenants at AmSouth Harbert Plaza practiced full-building evacuations and participated in annual training. However, the threat to this downtown high-rise was never so evident as in early October 2001. On Tuesday, a drill was conducted. On Wednesday, there was a suspicious substance threat. Thursday was business as usual. On Friday, a bomb threat was issued, and the following Monday another suspicious package (and a potential bomb threat) was received. “We had the fire department, police department, FBI, Health Department, Emergency Management Agency, and press on every corner. Advance planning is so important,” says Weir.
Naturally, these events create stress for tenants, as well as Weir and her staff. However, Harbert Realty’s commitment to life-safety (a true testament to Weir’s vigilance in continuously updating and assessing procedures) has been recognized. “It has become known that our building has the leading plan in the city, and now managers are coming to us – we’ve become a resource,” Weir explains. “I feel it’s very important for us to network and help one another, especially during these demanding times.”
As the past president of BOMA Birmingham and member of the building owner/ manager association since 1985, Weir has lobbied on Capitol Hill and currently serves on three of the organization’s committees – including finance.
Riding the roller coaster of property management is no problem for Weir who enjoys her ever-changing role and responsibilities. “Nothing is ever the same in any day,” she jokes.
So what’s the secret to Weir’s success? “Over the years, I learned the absolute need to develop a strong team and address concerns as they arise.” She has learned to wear many hats, walk a tightrope or two, and juggle the day-to-day responsibilities of maintenance and operations. Although it may sound like a circus, with Weir as the director of Property Management there’s no clowning around when it comes to meeting the needs of both the owner and tenants at AmSouth Harbert Plaza.
Jana J. Madsen ([email protected]) is senior associate editor at Buildings magazine.