This month, Gil Borok, formerly chief operations officer and acting leader of U.S. business at Colliers International, assumed the role of president and chief executive office, U.S.A., for the firm. Since joining Colliers International, Los Angeles-based Borok has played a significant role in building its leadership team and expanding the business with tactical acquisitions, as well as in streamlining operations.
Prior to joining Colliers, Borok spent 15 years in various leadership positions at real estate services firm CBRE, where he served as CFO from 2010 to 2014.
NREI recently talked to Borok about what he sees as the biggest trends in the market heading into 2020 and how he plans to position Colliers to compete more effectively with its peers in the brokerage and advisory sector.
This Q&A has been edited for style and clarity.
NREI: What are the biggest commercial real estate trends in the market heading into 2020?
Gil Borok: As long as we have a growing economy in 2020, which I believe we will, commercial real estate will continue to do well. I expect the industrial sector to flourish as we see the lines between industrial and retail continue to blur with demand for fast delivery options growing. Traditional office space demand might be a bit challenged due to macroeconomic matters, but demand for office space by technology-related companies shows no signs of easing, and flex space will continue to be a popular alternative.
In addition, top-tier commercial real estate firms are becoming more and more technology-enabled. At Colliers, our Proptech Accelerator’s second year is culminating, and innovative technologies are emerging that will change the way this industry operates. As businesses and consumers have changed their habits, from flexible workspace to the much-discussed Amazon effect, commercial real estate firms will continue to evolve to meet demands.
NREI: The press release announcing your appointment noted a focus on expanding client services, developing top talent and new growth initiatives. Can you talk about what that will entail?
Gil Borok: That is correct. Our number one priority at Colliers is to recruit and retain the absolute best talent in the industry. These professionals understand what clients need and will offer the best service possible. In addition, we continue to listen to our clients so that we can best tailor our services to coincide with meeting their business objectives. Colliers continues to innovate. Colliers360, a fast, flexible and non-proprietary platform, is helping clients visualize real estate portfolio analytics on demand. Additionally, Neighborhood Curated by Colliers, a platform that consists of technology-forward services, is providing innovative and industry-changing partnerships centered around augmented reality, cyber security and community staffing to bring new life to properties.
NREI: Your background is in finance. How will your expertise help to attain these goals?
Gil Borok: In my many finance roles over 25 years, including the last two years as COO of Colliers’ U.S. business, I have learned a tremendous amount about how successful businesses operate and how to relate to people. This experience is a great foundation for the role I am now embarking upon. But I am not leading Colliers alone. We’ve worked tirelessly over the last few years to improve the leadership structure within our U.S. business, adding regional president roles across the country. These leaders, along with our service line and shared services leaders, will be my partners in helping to grow our strong U.S. business.
NREI: What new services are planned?
Gil Borok: We will continue to fill gaps in our platform through recruiting. We have room to do this on the agency leasing side of our business, as well as in the capital markets space. In addition, we will continue to bring value-add services to our clients, such as workplace solutions and supply chain consultation.
NREI: Some brokerage firms are developing tech platforms to offer a digital concierge services for tenants and replace some office functions with AI. Will Colliers get into tech development or form relationships with developers to offer its clients similar services? If so, what types of services?
Gil Borok: Technology is an enabler in our business, and there is a major focus on it at Colliers. In December on Demo Day, Colliers rolled out the 2019 class of the Colliers Accelerator powered by Techstars. Ten innovative companies presented their technology solutions, ranging from a firm in Toronto that utilizes blockchain technology and tokenization to create a more efficient real estate investment process to a Finnish company that uses data and artificial intelligence to predict the value and risks in both residential and commercial real estate properties.
NREI: Besides brokerage and advisory services, Colliers is known for its expertise in property management. Is this an area Colliers plans to expand, and if so, which real estate sectors provide the greatest opportunities and why?
Gill Borok: It’s important that Colliers grows and expands across all offerings. As a company, we are committed to innovating and continuing to provide our clients with services that help them meet their business objectives. As the business world grows and evolves, so will Colliers. As I mentioned a bit earlier, offerings such as Neighborhood Curated by Colliers, which includes features such as a tenant experience app and cyber security support, is an incredibly forward-thinking offering that shows Colliers’ commitment to innovation. In addition, we see an opportunity to expand our property management services in the office sector.
NREI: Are there opportunities that Colliers may have overlooked in the past that you want to explore?
Gil Borok: We have a well-rounded platform that we will continue to focus on growing, while continuing to take advantage of opportunities ancillary to it as they arise. It is hard to predict what those might be, but continuing to bring value-added consulting capabilities to clients has high potential for sure.