Photo of Jeff Pace by Edward Smith.
Written by Edward Smith
After years of passing the title, the partners of one of the Central Valley’s largest commercial real estate companies have found a new president to steer the ship – former Valley Republic Bank Market President Jeff Pace.
As president, Pace won’t do the sales himself, but instead will help manage brokers and onboard new talent for Central Valley’s No. 2 company, according to The Business Journal’s May list of commercial real estate brokers. .
Pace comes with deep knowledge of the Central Valley and experience in commercial lending and leadership — exactly what the partners wanted, said Bobby Fena, senior vice president and partner at Colliers.
“Preferably, [we wanted] someone who was local, who had some working knowledge of real estate, commission sales and how financing works, because that’s all we do. And with Jeff, you can tick all the boxes there,” Fena said.
Earlier this year, Tri-County Bank merged with Bakersfield-based Valley Republic Bank, where Pace was market president. The partners of Necklaces had worked with Pace for a long time, being a regular face when sourcing loans for clients. Prior to Valley Republic, Pace spent more than 16 years in the commercial lending department of Fresno-based Central Valley Community Bank.
During the merger, the Colliers team asked him if he would continue to serve as the market‘s president. Curious about the question, Pace discovered the team’s search for a new president. It will be the first time Colliers has had a chairman who is not also a broker since its founder, Charles Tingey, held the position.
The title of President of Colliers had been one of the associates passed down for years since Tingey’s retirement. He formed the group then known as Charles Tingey Associates in 1968. He died in 2015.
A group of 16 partners now own the brokerage which operates under a license agreement with Colliers Global Real Estate Services.
Fena, Tingey’s business partner, had held the management position for a few years. Another partner then took on the role and eventually leadership was split between a partner in each of the three offices – Bakersfield, Fresno and then Pismo Beach. The Pismo Beach office merged with another real estate company earlier this year and moved to San Luis Obispo. But the partners knew they needed a full-time president. Fena said working with high-profile brokers can sometimes be “like herding cats.”
But once Pace’s name came out, Fena said the decision was quick.
Commercial real estate is no mystery to Pace, who spent about five years with Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis after graduating from Fresno State. But it didn’t take long to get into financing,
Pace said while there are major differences between his work in banking and that of Colliers, there are also similarities.
While “relationships” is one of the most overused words in business, he believes the significance of the term holds true. Working at a local bank, he developed relationships with all kinds of businesses, including moms and pops. At Colliers, relationships have been nurtured over decades.
It’s something he recognized in Colliers and wants to pass on to new recruits.
“If someone says ‘hey, I need an office building’, they know who to call. If anyone needs a retail building, they know who to call,” Pace said.
Of Colliers’ 27 officers, nearly a dozen have been there for more than 40 years, Pace said. One of his responsibilities is to bring new blood to the office. Salary at Colliers is 100% commission. While the potential earnings are lucrative, Pace said, it can take a few years to establish a name and a following.
“You have to be really, really willing to bet on yourself and your own hustle, but the rewards are huge,” Pace said. “The money the good guys make – you can’t make that kind of money as a doctor.”
Since joining, Pace has hired Gil Lara, who has a background in multi-family and hospitality — something Fena said the office was doing “half-ass,” lacking staff with that specialty.
Fena said she would like two to four more people in the office, especially for someone with retail experience.
Even with a possible recession looming, Pace said markets in transition keep an agent busy. Tenants may need smaller spaces and agents are needed to help these businesses with their real estate needs. But officers will need to be more proactive than they have been for the past 18 months, he added.
Now that the pandemic appears to be behind them, that means a return to in-person transactions, a staple for real estate agents, Pace said.
“I think it’s important because we’re in the kind of business that meets and shakes hands, which really sucked during Covid,” Pace said.
Now Pace is doing his introductory rounds, stepping out and squeezing the flesh. Colliers had a tailgate during Fresno State’s football game against the University of Nevada in Las Vegas on November 11.
“It’s been the fit we’ve been looking for and I think it will pay good dividends going forward,” Fena said.