We recently connected with Grant Pruitt and have shared our conversation below.
Grant , appreciate you joining us today. We’d love to go back in time and hear the story of how you came up with the name of your brand?
This company was founded to be different. Dallas-Fort Worth has a great legacy of commercial real estate pioneers and entrepreneurs (Trammell Crow, Mack Pogue, John Eulich, Henry S. Miller, Roger Staubach, just to name a few). Most of real estate in this town can be traced back to these men, and most professionals and companies in commercial real estate were operating from the same playbook that hadn’t changed since the 1980s. I wanted to be mindful of this great, rich legacy, and take the good parts, but I wanted to update it a little bit and bring a new type of commercial real estate firm to the market with a new type of agent.
Whitebox is a real estate term for a space that has been built out and occupied before, so there is a legacy or a history there, but the interior walls have been demolished so that the slate is clean and open for a new user to configure/build the space in a way the works best for their business. The difference between a Whitebox space and a new shell space is that a shell space has nothing (no history), but a Whitebox space has a ceiling grid and lights.
A Whitebox space is the best of both worlds. Like our company. We are mindful of the rich legacy and lessons of the past. We have experience. But we are adaptable and customizable to an ever changing client base’s needs. Couldn’t think of a more fitting name.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I really have to thank my Dad. I am from a long line of real estate professionals (both parents, my brother, two uncles, two cousins — sorry if I miss anyone). When I was in high school, my father came into my room and said, “Go put on a suit, I want you to learn how I make a living.” That day I started my career in real estate. We started going door to door in San Antonio cold-calling warehouses. I loved it. I was hooked. I haven’t looked back since. I didn’t know at the time that I wanted to pursue it as a career, but I thought it was a good way to make money on the side while in college. Real estate came naturally to me, so I ended up getting my degree in Real Estate Finance, and I went into it full time working for the same firm I had interned with four days after my last class. I had been working in Dallas, so I never left.
I never set out to start a real estate company, though. I am a really good real estate broker, and the industry started to change. All of the big real estate companies were either already public or in the process of going public. There was a huge shift in the real estate industry towards property tech, facility management, and what the real estate companies saw as “sustainable revenue.” They were getting out of the brokerage business as it was not deemed sustainable by Wall Street (too much fluctuation since it is transactionally based). Most of my clients were middle market and small businesses. They were not what the new publicly traded real estate community was looking for. My clients needed someone who a) knew what he or she was doing (an expert), b) was honest, c) fought for them, d) and had a true fiduciary to them. I knew there was a need and the big real estate companies were not filling it and had no desire to fill it. There was an opportunity.
Whitebox fills that specific void. We only represent tenants, so we are laser focused. We as good or better resources as the big real estate companies, but we are adaptable and nimble (think Navy Seals vs the Navy). Tenant Representation is our core focus and our specialty.
We work with tenants, buyers, and users of office, manufacturing, and warehouse real estate to build and execute on custom real estate strategies based on the unique challenges of their business. We focus on building long term relationships with our clients by ALWAYS putting their needs ahead of our own, no matter what. Whether they are leasing, buying, renewing, relocating, we specialize in it. We work all over, too. We did work in 44 states, 6 countries, 3 continents last year.
We pride ourselves on creativity and deep lasting relationships. One of my longest standing and largest clients started small. I did a two year, 1,200 square foot office lease. I treated that deal like very other deal I do… I give every deal 100% and act like it is the last one. I must have done ok because I then helped him buy an office building in downtown Dallas to relocate his company’s headquarters to. Then I worked with the company to expand and streamline their manufacturing facilities and build out their distribution network. They have been clients for over 12 years.
Have you ever had to pivot?
March 2020 was a crazy month. Covid changed the way we had done business for decades. Commercial Real Estate is infamous for being inflexible and not very tech savvy. As a company we had to transition our business when we were shut down to a virtual workforce. We transitioned in a day and a half. Pretty seamless I might add. We also had to change how we worked.
My reason to get up every morning is because Tenants and Users of commercial real estate have challenges and ever-evolving real estate needs, and my passion is to bring solutions. Covid meant that we had a ton of demand for our services (advice, getting rid of space, subleases, issues with rent, needing more space, transition to a new work environment, etc.) and we had a TON of questions. We had always met in person. We had to pivot our strategy to a virtual world and re-learn how to do what we had done for years. It is much harder than it sounds, and most of our competition just hunkered down and hoped to wait it out. Our business grew at a greater rate during that time that it ever had to that point, and I attribute it to our proactivity.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
Our current and past clients. A warm kind word from someone that has worked with us or a warm intro is so powerful for us.