BOMA Deep in the Heart of Texas


When in Texas, do as the Texans do. 2017-2018 BOMA International Chair and Chief Elected Officer Rob Brierley, BOMA Fellow, took that to heart and didn’t let his signature Boston accent stop him from opening the 2018 BOMA International Conference & Expo with an enthusiastic "Howdy, ya’ll!"

Thousands of attendees from all over the world gathered in San Antonio for the commercial real estate industry’s can’t-miss event of the year. With more than 50 education sessions on a wide range of topics, access to the latest industry products and solutions on the Expo floor and some of the best—and most enjoyable—chances to network with peers, it’s clear to see why.


America’s first daughters, Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, dazzled the audience at BOMA 2018 during their opening keynote discussion at the Sunday General Session, sponsored by Anixter. Throughout the hour-long conversation led by Brierley (pictured left), attendees laughed and cried with them as they shared their unique perspectives growing up in Texas and in a political family.

Hager and Bush spoke about how their parents made sure they had as normal a childhood as possible, and got to experience the world and discover ways they could help make it better. Growing up with a strong support system within their family showed them how important community and support are to success. Bush encouraged attendees to use their leadership to help the next generation. "Mentorship is one of the most important things about our country," she said. "I would recommend [BOMA members] be the leaders and influencers of the next generation."


Proving a commitment to excellence in all areas of building operations and management, BOMA/Metropolitan Washington (AOBA) clinched double honors at the Sunday General Session during a recognition ceremony for BOMA 360 designees. The member buildings of AOBA earned more BOMA 360 Performance Program designations over the past year than any other large BOMA local association. For the second year in a row, AOBA also was the local association with the largest number of submissions from a single company, submitted by Brookfield, which also was the company with the most designations and renewals over the last year.

Member buildings from BOMA/Austin earned the most BOMA 360 designations of the medium-sized BOMA local associations, while BOMA/San Diego took top honors among the small BOMA local associations. Cushman & Wakefield topped the list for the most building designations earned overall since the inception of the program. After the Sunday General Session, all attendees with BOMA 360-designated buildings posed onstage for a group photo (pictured, above) to celebrate their achievements.


Often the opportunity to attend an educational event or conference is based on seniority. While that makes internal decisions easy, it leaves few chances for those new to their role or industry to grow their skills. Luckily, there’s the BOMA Foundation’s J. Michael Coleman Scholarship, which provides young and emerging professionals the chance to attend the BOMA International Conference & Expo for free each year.

This year, 10 people attended as 2018 Coleman Scholarship recipients (pictured, above left): Kelsey Cariffe, Oracle; Cassandra Friedli, Greywolf Partners; Mallory Fritz, CBRE; Emily Henderson, Lillibridge Healthcare Services Inc.; Roberta Kelley, Lincoln Harris; Theotto Lillard, Hubbell Realty Company; Grant Miller, JLL; Tiara Nash and Helena Shea, both Cushman & Wakefield; and Bianca Santos, Parmenter.

Kelley, a BOMA/Dallas member, said that being able to attend BOMA 2018 because of the Coleman Scholarship was an amazing opportunity. "I’m learning a lot, and I’ll take the information back to my team at work," she added, noting the value of also getting to network with her peers.


BOMA leadership also gathered on Sunday to take care of important business at the Board of Governors meeting. To start, the board voted to award life memberships to Fred K. Whitty, RPA, from Houston BOMA and Dave M. Stucky from BOMA/San Diego.

In his Chair’s Report, Brierley (pictured, above) spoke about the changes that the industry continues to undergo and BOMA’s evolving role as a partner in its members’ success. As BOMA International prepares to implement a new strategic plan, Brierley believes the organization is well-situated to meet members’ needs. "Our future-facing resources and offerings are helping to match up to where the commercial real estate industry is going and give us the tools to be successful," he said. "We can never stop evolving and reinventing ourselves."

Later that morning, BOMA International Senior Vice President Pat Areno shared the latest figures from The Home Depot member rebate program. Since 2012, approximately $14 million has been rebated to members. Areno also handed out awards for top participating BOMA local associations within the program. For the second year in a row, BOMA/Greater Phoenix took the top honors.

Rich McClure, chair of the Government Affairs Committee, gave updates on the advocacy efforts of BOMA International and the popular W2 Challenge. To date, more than 1,800 buildings have signed up to benchmark and reduce their water and waste.

BOMA International’s Industry Defense Fund (IDF) once again helped support a productive year for commercial real estate, according to the report by IDF Oversight Committee Chair Robert Six. The IDF approved continued funding for BOMA/Pittsburgh at the annual conference to support opposition to Pittsburgh’s controversial "Safe & Secure Building Act." Likewise, Lisa Hensley, BOMA Fellow, reported that BOMA International’s political action committee, BOMAPAC, had distributed $33,000 to candidates so far in 2018 and had raised $32,047 since the start of the year. An additional record-breaking $15,500 was raised in San Antonio from contributions by BOMA members.

The meeting ended with the official swearing in of new Executive Committee members, as well as the 2018-2019 BOMA International officers: Chair and Chief Elected Officer Brian D. Cappelli, BOMA Fellow, RPA, of BOMA/Greater Cleveland; Chair-Elect Scott O. Jones of BOMA/San Francisco; Vice Chair Shelby Christensen of BOMA/Philadelphia; and Secretary/Treasurer Keith Major of BOMA/Toronto.


Attendees were welcomed in a vibrant way Sunday night to the official conference opening party (pictured, above). Colorful decorations adorned walls and tables and a variety of Tex-Mex food was available to taste the local flavor. A band played and artisans crafted colorful head and wrist accessories out of paper flowers, while attendees gathered to commemorate the evening in the popular selfie station.

The following night, BOMA 2018 attendees had ample opportunities to kick back and enjoy themselves with a variety of exhibitor parties. The biggest party of the night was the BOMA Fiesta. Hosted by Cornerstone Partners Comcast Business, thyssenkrupp and Yardi at Cafe Ole and the Agave Bar on San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk, the BOMA Fiesta welcomed guests with food, fun and a mariachi band.


This year’s hottest, most innovative technologies were on display in the Cornerstone Partner Pavilion at the BOMA International Expo. The exhibit, new this year, was dedicated to operating the buildings of the future and was a joint effort of BOMA International’s eight Cornerstone Partner companies.

In the pavilion, Allied Universal introduced SCOT, or the Security Control and Observation Tower (pictured, above). SCOT is a robotic security officer that can handle visitor check-in, wayfinding and access control. Comcast Business showcased new options to keep tenants connected, including its product, SD-WAN. If it goes down, this cloud-based network solution can be routed quickly and get back online.

A Cornerstone Partner for more than 12 years, Trane showcased a variety of indoor comfort solutions, including the IntelliPak Rooftop System connected with Symbio 800, released earlier this year. Software provider Yardi showcased a host of software and mobile solutions, including budgeting and forecasting tools, work orders and portals that let tenants easily request service from a property manager.

Kimberly-Clark Professional demonstrated the ONVATION Restroom Management System, an Internet of Things-enabled subscription service that tracks the availability of towels, tissue and skin care products with sensors.

Cornerstone Partner thyssenkrupp featured MULTI, which places multiple elevators in the same shaft, reducing the number of individual shafts your building will need. Kings III Emergency Communications offered an innovative option geared towards accessibility: an elevator touchscreen that enables deaf or hard of hearing people to summon help if an elevator becomes stuck.

And, The Home Depot booth was spreading the word, not just about its latest products and services, but also about the popular Member Benefits Program that offers a 2 percent cash-back program for any member of BOMA International.

Trade show attendees also had the opportunity to visit with two award-winning exhibitors: Healthy Buildings, a BOMA International Ambassador Partner, won the best pre-show promotion award for its creative marketing of its booth leading up to the annual conference, and Centrica Business Solutions won the award for most engaging booth, thanks in no small part to its popular coffee bar.


Brad Miccio has been attending the BOMA annual conference for seven years, but this year, he took home more than great ideas for how to run his buildings. Miccio (pictured, above), chief engineer for the Packard Humanities Institute, took home $1,500, thanks to the BOMA Fast Cash drawings on the trade show floor. The two winners before Miccio didn’t get to the Prize Stage in time to claim their winnings, increasing the jackpot. Miccio was talking to a fire and life safety vendor about fire water pipe corrosion as his name was called and he quickly claimed his prize.

The prizes didn’t stop there. Having exhibitors validate a prize card entered attendees into a second drawing for a number of other prizes, including one of many Mobile-Shop Company maintenance carts, a hot item at this year’s conference. Cynthia Cumbo of The Lenkin Company Management and Jason Dugger with GLP Management Service claimed their carts Sunday evening.


Emerging professionals in the industry gathered Monday afternoon for a chance to talk and connect at the Emerging Professionals in Commercial Real Estate Program & Networking Reception. The event began with panelists from BOMA International’s Emerging Professionals Committee, including 2017-2018 Chair Mason Bodie of BOMA/Dallas, asking questions and fielding answers from attendees (pictured, below left). It was a lively conversation where people from different jobs, locations and perspectives shared their experience and point of view.

The discussion included tips on how to leverage social and career networks. According to attendees, building and maintaining relationships helps, with multiple people citing organizations like BOMA and connecting with vendors to meet people outside your company. Others advised that when setting goals, it’s more effective to write them down and think about who you want to be, not what you want to do.

After the session, the emerging professionals had the opportunity to mingle and network with one another, panelists and BOMA Fellows.


Where is your finish line? Shawn Rhodes, a war correspondent commissioned by the U.S. government to study high-performing teams, asked attendees to answer this question at BOMA 2018’s first Spotlight Session. New this year, in addition to the 50-plus education sessions focusing on the commercial real estate industry, the Spotlight Sessions featured engaging discussions with leaders in innovation, business and coaching.

"I’ve seen teams come together at the last minute where there was no planning for psychology or personalities and they were still able to accomplish their goals because they understood what the finish line was," Rhodes said. "Often if a team comes together organically and succeeds, it’s because they were on a tight timeline with a difficult task to accomplish. They put their differences aside."


The perennially popular Women in Commercial Real Estate Program & Breakfast, which brings together a panel of women making their mark in commercial real estate each annual conference, featured a relaxed discussion focused on mentorship and building relationships with other professionals (pictured, above). A packed room of property professionals from every stage in their careers listened intently as the panelists, moderated by Trane’s Keri Taylor, shared advice and discussed their successes and challenges, from balancing work and family to teaching the next generation of property managers.

"Look for a role model who is also passionate about their career," suggested Melanie Bellinger, property manager for Copaken Brooks. "Someone who cares about the career they’re in and who is patient and committed to helping you in your career path."

Women in traditionally male-dominated fields often feel the need to prove themselves repeatedly by never admitting to weakness, but sometimes the areas where you’re less strong can turn into great learning opportunities for your mentee. "My boss is an introvert and she’d sit me by certain people so that I had to do the talking," explained Teresa Foster, executive director of BOMA/Dallas. "It wasn’t something that came naturally to her, but she found a way to make it happen."

And, don’t forget the help you received. "It’s important as women that we look for opportunities to mentor and give back," said Brenna Walraven, BOMA Fellow, a past BOMA International chair. "You’re a leader with a busy schedule and it’s hard to find time to sit down and say ‘Let’s walk through that,’ but it’s something we should all be thinking about."

Even if you’re not formally serving as a mentor, you may be providing an example to those around you without realizing it, explained Betty Lagred, national operations manager for USAA Real Estate. "While you’re doing all of this, your assistant is also watching you, and, in a way, you’re mentoring or serving as a role model," she said. "One day, we’ll retire and we want to make sure someone else is there who’s just as good as we are."


Building sustainable practices into your leases isn’t just the right thing to do for the planet. Leading-edge companies, building owners and managers know it’s the right thing to do for their budgets, too. Twenty-three such organizations were recognized as Green Lease Leaders (pictured, above) at BOMA 2018 during the Tuesday General Session sponsored by BOMA Cornerstone Partner Yardi. For the first time, the program recognized progress toward implementation with two levels of recognition. The nine Silver-level honorees implemented foundational policies and business practices, while the 14 Gold-level organizations built on the requirements for Silver by executing the sustainable leases and fit-outs they’ve negotiated.

"We look to our commercial sector partners—office building owners and managers, retailers, restaurants, grocery stores, you name it—to help lead the way in energy savings," said guest presenter Kathleen Hogan, PhD, deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, during the recognition ceremony.

BOMA International is a Supporting Partner of Green Lease Leaders and recently issued an updated Green Lease Guide, which has helped building owners and managers implement energy- and water-efficient practices in leases and corporate guidelines for more than 30 years.

"It always comes down to understanding what you can do that makes sense for your bottom line," Hogan explained after the event. "A lot of what we do at the Department of Energy is to try to work with leading organizations that are trying to put sustainable technologies in place and show that it really does pay from a cash flow standpoint."


BOMA International President Henry Chamberlain (pictured, above) presented his annual State of the Industry address during Tuesday’s General Session. In it, he highlighted the latest technology trends with the potential to shape commercial real estate: "With technology, you don’t need to be an expert, but you need to understand what’s going on around you." Data, he also said, is becoming the new currency, adding that reviewing and analyzing internal and external data can create a lot of value.

Other technology trends attendees should be aware of include wireless power that allows remote charging, trackable devices that show how occupants are using a building so that needs and services can be adjusted and drone technology for surveying buildings and delivering packages.

In addition to exploring technology, Chamberlain spoke about the evolution of the workplace within commercial real estate and how three generations—baby boomers, Generation X and millennials—are working together, each with unique needs and priorities. He noted that at work, while baby boomers value salary, Gen Xers want balance and millennials seek happiness. "As you look to build teams in the future, you need to focus on these styles," Chamberlain explained. Right now, "it’s an industry in amazing transition."


Today’s commercial tenants and occupants expect more from their workplace. It’s not just about a desk and a chair anymore, and the evolution of what tenants need and want puts more pressure on building owners and property or facility managers to provide and deliver amenities that will attract and retain top talent.

To close Tuesday’s General Session, a panel of industry experts offered a wealth of ideas for improving the tenant experience, from food options to office space solutions, during "New Tenant Amenity Demands: Creating a Better Workplace Experience" (pictured above). Moderated by Jim Tainter, managing director of the Landlord Services Division at NAI Partners, the panel included Jeanne Wood, senior associate vice president at CallisonRTKL; Sam Schaefer, managing director and global head of Property Management, Leasing & Corporate Outreach at Tishman Speyer; Brian Harnetiaux, BOMA Fellow, senior vice president of Asset Management at McCarthy Cook; and Amanda Heismann Gray, general manager at Lillibridge Healthcare Services Inc.

According to Wood, the employee experience is defined by three factors: workplace culture, technology and the built environment. "Bring those three things together and talk about them with tenants. Ask employees and tenants what they’re looking for, and don’t stop at the tenant point person. Go deeper to find out trends and identify what’s happening."


Tuesday night was alive with excitement about the commercial real estate industry’s highest recognition honoring excellence in commercial building management and operations, BOMA International’s annual The Outstanding Building of the Year® (TOBY®) Awards. The Home Depot sponsored the program, along with the banquet. With the debut of two new categories, Mixed-Use and Public Assembly Building, 16 projects were honored from among 80 nominees representing more than 50 different cities.

BOMA 360-designated Ponce City Market in Atlanta, managed by Jamestown Commercial Management Company and owned by Jamestown PCM Master Tenant LP, took home the very first Mixed-Use award. In the Public Assembly Building category, the winner was Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Dorval, Quebec, Canada. The property is managed by Aéroports de Montréal and owned by Transport Canada.

Fittingly for a Texas conference, the much-coveted award for Over 1 Million Square Feet went to Bank of America Plaza in Dallas, a BOMA 360-designated building managed by Peloton Commercial Real Estate and owned by Dallas Main LP. The building anchors the commercial business district, boasts 55 tenants and features iconic LED lighting outlining the exterior.


The 2018 class of BOMA Fellows also was celebrated at the TOBY Awards banquet. BOMA Fellows have displayed exemplary and sustained contributions to the industry, their profession, the community and BOMA through leadership and service.

This year’s group of new fellows included Mark Dukes, CCIM, RPA, Physicians Realty Trust; Donald J. Fairgrieve-Park, RPA, QuadReal Property Group; Brian M. Harnetiaux, McCarthy Cook & Co.; Richard H. Kenwood, CPM, CRX, CSM, FMA, RPA, Madison Marquette; Peter Merrett, The House of Wonderful; Sheldon S. Oppermann, CPM, RPA, Compass Properties LLC; Laura T. Ragans, RPA, MBRE Healthcare; Andrew J. Romerdahl, CCIM, MAI, Providence St. Joseph Health; Coleen M. Spratt, Colliers International; and Geoffrey M. Wardle, Spink Butler LLP.


Capping off the evening was the swearing in of BOMA International’s 2018-2019 Chair and Chief Elected Officer Brian Cappelli, BOMA Fellow, RPA (pictured, below). Cappelli kicked off his term with a lighthearted nod to outgoing chair Rob Brierley’s Boston accent, noting that his own Midwestern inflection would leave the "R" silent in BOMA once more. Cappelli, who has more than 20 years of experience in commercial real estate, is the vice president of Asset Management at GBX Group LLC.

Cappelli spoke about the need for BOMA members to get involved and stay connected in our current era of transformative change. That goes for BOMA International as an organization, too, Cappelli added. Because BOMA is the strategic business partner to the commercial real estate industry, the organization needs to continue staying ahead of industry trends and marketplace changes in order to support members effectively as they deal with the industry’s rapid evolution, he explained.

Cappelli closed by asking attendees to share their insights with him over the course of his term as chair: "In the next year, I want to know what BOMA means to you and how we can add value." (Learn more about BOMA International’s new chair.)

Mark your calendar now for the 2019 BOMA International Conference & Expo, taking place June 22-25, 2019, in Salt Lake City.