Letter From Terry Luker: What Do You Do When the Industry Icon Goes Away?

What Do You Do When the Industry Icon Goes Away?

How does the void get filled?

Do you leave the vacuum running and wait to see what or who fills it?

 

Three of us - myself, Terry Luker, along with Jeff Luker and Jon Cosentino - chose to try and fill the void while also changing our industry’s direction. Our industry is the commercial loan brokering industry, a trillion-dollar transactional industry.

 

Over the past eleven years, I founded two businesses - Alternative Capital Solutions, a commercial loan brokering company and later a direct lender, Commercial Capital BIDCO. As I look back at my time in the industry, I realize there are two companies that were instrumental in the growth of my businesses - Commercial Capital Training Group (CCTG) and The National Alliance of Commercial Loan Brokers (NACLB). CCTG was the company that provided commercial loan broker training. I attended that training in December of 2013. The NACLB was the association and conference that we attended for many years. I was given the Commercial Loan Broker Rookie of the Year award in 2014 and in 2016 I received the Commercial Loan Broker of the Year award. These awards were presented by the NACLB at their annual conference.

 

Both CCTG and NACLB were owned by Kris Roglieri. Kris is now involved in multiple lawsuits resulting from business activities he had through another company he owns, Prime Venture Capital Lending. I am personally familiar with the lending tactics he used with this new company as he had promised me that he could get my lending company, Commercial Capital BIDCO, a $100,000,000 line of credit. Our firm sent in the $35,000 due diligence fee and began the process of acquiring that line of credit. Thankfully we have an awesome attorney who quickly saw through the scheme, and we did not move forward with a loan. We were going to be required to place $20,000,000 on deposit in an interest reserve account. Our attorney could not get comfortable with the agreements and advised me that Kris would have complete control over those funds to do whatever he wanted with. Our attorney told me that it appeared to be a Ponzi Scheme and in turn saved my company and my family from certain financial disaster as we could not afford to lose $20,000,000.

 

With CCTG and the NACLB closing, there was a massive void in our industry. I had previously tried (and as we have now discovered, many of his staff had tried) to convince Kris to take the conference to a more education-based focus as an association. As a direct lender, we work with commercial loan brokers every day and we see first-hand the struggles that many of them have. Many do not have the knowledge needed to take a deal from the beginning relationship with the borrower to the funding with a lender. They simply do not have the necessary training and experience to get it done.

 

Our team has decided to bring a superior level of training and education to both our new association and conference, the Commercial Loan Broker Association, as well as our new training company, The Commercial Loan Broker Academy. Our association and academy will be different. We have planned for our first conference to take place in Orlando this October 1-3, 2024.  We want the conference to bring lenders, vendors and brokers together to not only meet and network, but to execute plans that will give the brokers’ clients access to the funds they need to grow and expand their businesses. We want lenders to be able to know, with confidence, that the brokers they are working with have the knowledge base needed to get the deal to them with the correct structure and documentation needed for them to make an informed decision on funding those transactions. That is a win for everyone when we accomplish this. The CLBA conference will be more educational focused to help fulfill this need in our industry.

 

With our new training academy, we want to increase the chances of success for every new commercial loan broker. When I started in this business 11 years ago, there were three things I had to do every day: 1) I had to find clients that needed my services, 2) find lenders that would lend to my clients, and 3) package my clients’ loan requests in the format that lenders wanted. I was burning the candle at both ends!

 

We want to change that. One of the best things that we ever did at our company is that we built our own credit team. At Alternative Capital Solutions, we underwrite every deal that we represent. ACS does all the underwriting for our lending company. We also underwrite participation deals that we do between banks. We have multiple bank partners that utilize us to find participating bank partners for deals they want to fund that might be too big for their bank or might just want to spread some of the risk to participant partners. Our credit underwriting sets us apart from every other commercial loan brokering company.

 

We are going to leverage that credit underwriting and provide access to our team for those students who attend our training academy. In addition, we are going to allow our student graduates access to our lender book in order to help fund their deals. As you can see, if we provide the deal packaging and underwriting to our graduates and we provide our lending relationships to our graduates, all they must do is go find their clients. We believe this will be a great recipe for success for our graduate students.

 

I am excited about where we are as an industry, but I am more excited about where we can take our industry. This is not a one-person success or fail opportunity. This is an opportunity for all of us who love what we do, to come together and grow our industry in education, morals, ethics and accountability. Come be part of a new direction. I hope to see you all in Orlando this October!

 

By: Terry Luker, Founder and Owner:

Alternative Capital Solutions, Commercial Capital BIDCO, The Commercial Loan Broker Academy, the Commercial Loan Broker Association, and The Commercial Broker Playbook

 


Top 5 U.S. Cities for First-Time Commercial Real Estate Investors

Investing in commercial real estate can be a lucrative venture, offering opportunities for significant returns and portfolio diversification. For first-time investors entering this market, selecting the right location is crucial for success. Some key factors to think about when choosing which market to enter into are population growth, job growth, and high rental demand. Here are the top five U.S. cities that offer promising prospects for first-time commercial real estate investors:

1.) Nashville, Tennessee

Commonly known as, “Music City”, Nashville has emerged as a hotspot for commercial real estate. The city’s strong job market is fueled by tourism, finance, and healthcare, and has forced the need for more office space as well as retail space. Nashville’s business-friendly environment yields a promising opportunity for first-time commercial real estate investors. This is a prime area for not only alternative lending opportunities, but SBA products geared towards those small and/or new businesses could be an excellent route as well. 

 

2.) Atlanta, Georgia

Known as the economic hub of the Southeast, Atlanta boasts a thriving business environment and a rapidly growing population. The city's diverse economy, which includes sectors like technology, finance, and logistics, provides ample opportunities for commercial real estate investments. Additionally, Atlanta's favorable tax environment and relatively low cost of living make it an attractive destination for businesses, driving demand for commercial properties.

 

3.) Austin, Texas

In recent years Austin has experienced rapid population growth, and is home to a burgeoning tech scene and a dynamic entrepreneurial culture. The city's strong job market, fueled by companies like Dell, IBM, and numerous startups, has led to increased demand for office, retail, and mixed-use developments. With a vibrant arts and entertainment scene and a high quality of life, Austin offers attractive investment opportunities for first-time commercial real estate investors. From large commercial loan opportunities to small-business ventures, the commercial lending space here is especially unique.

 

4.) Denver, Colorado

Situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Denver combines natural beauty with a booming economy, making it an appealing destination for commercial real estate investment. Its strategic location as a transportation and logistics hub, coupled with a diverse economy spanning industries such as aerospace, healthcare, renewable energy, and cannabis, contributes to its allure. Denver's young and educated population, alongside a burgeoning tech sector, further augur well for the future growth of the commercial real estate market. Notably, Denver's cannabis industry stands as a trailblazer in the landscape of legalized marijuana since the state's landmark legalization of recreational cannabis in 2012. Emerging as a leading destination for cannabis enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, the industry continues to thrive, significantly contributing to the city’s economy.

**It is important remember that the cannabis laws vary by state

 

5.) Seattle, Washington

Home to tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft, Seattle has become synonymous with innovation and economic growth. The city's thriving technology sector, combined with a highly skilled workforce and a culture of entrepreneurship, has led to sustained demand for commercial real estate properties. From office buildings in the bustling downtown area to mixed-use developments in vibrant neighborhoods, Seattle offers diverse investment options for first-time commercial real estate investors seeking exposure to a dynamic and rapidly evolving market.

 

These five U.S. cities present attractive opportunities for first-time commercial real estate investors looking to enter the market. From Atlanta's diverse economy to Seattle's tech-driven growth, each city offers its own unique advantages and potential for success. However, as with any investment, thorough research and due diligence are essential to making informed decisions and maximizing returns in the competitive commercial real estate landscape.


Alternative Capital Solutions Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary!

By: Leah Waldrop, Director of Marketing for Alternative Capital Solutions

Terry Luker looks back on how creative lending solutions and outside-the-box strategies helped to solidify a decade of success.

It’s a monumental milestone for Terry Luker as he is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of his commercial lending brokerage, Alternative Capital Solutions (ACS), this fall. After founding ACS in 2013, Luker knew that the commercial real estate market was one that would take consistent adaptation, patience and hard work when building his customer-base. After spending more 25 years in the automotive and finance worlds, Luker was determined to become a networking expert in this new adventure and solidify relationships with banks and lending partners across the country – a goal that has generated a highly-successful 10 years for ACS and has further enabled Luker to mentor to others in the industry. With this strategy, he also quickly became one of the most well-connected and authentic professionals in the industry.

Putting an emphasis on networking and mentorship allowed Luker to help lead the industry away from cookie-cutter lending methods, but instead to a customer-focused approach based on their needs and goals. An approach that is centered on outside-the-box thinking. One of Luker’s mottos that aligns with this belief is, “When a deal doesn’t fit in a certain box, simply build a new box.” The team at ACS continues to stand by this motto when it comes to building lending solutions for their clients.

Luker additionally explains his stance on unique deal structure by describing how his, “Favorite thing about ACS is the fact that every client is different, and the lending needs of each client is different.” He continues this thought with noting that, “It is fun and exciting to get to work with clients and figure out the best way to meet those clients’ funding needs. Every situation is unique, and every opportunity creates a moment of learning for us – even after ten years in business.” This signature outlook that Luker holds is what has allowed him to standout within the industry early on and has led him to being awarded by the National Alliance of Commercial Loan Brokers (NACLB) in both 2014 and 2016 with accolades as both the NACLB Rookie of the Year and NACLB Broker of the year, respectively.

An additional point that has allowed ACS to grow and adapt since 2013 has been Luker’s acute sense of delegation. Luker realized quickly in the initial years that several tasks were getting in his way of building authentic client relationships – which meant the need to build a team that could take on those extracurriculars outside of his main areas of focus. Luker is a proud team leader and firmly believes that creating departments and making top-talent hires in key roles has enabled ACS to plug experts into the fields of credit and underwriting, business development, finance, and marketing throughout the years – allowing deals to be worked quickly and seamlessly while Luker is able to do what he does best — network and nurture industry relationships while also staying active in mentoring to the commercial lending community of brokers such as with his proprietary e-learning tool, The Commercial Broker Playbook.

Employment and office culture is a hot topic in today’s environment. When Luker was asked to describe the culture of ACS and what he finds important when it comes to the ACS employees, he excitedly replied that, “This is an easy one for me, family. We work together as a team, and no one is afraid of the work we have, and each person is eager to jump in and help on any project that we are working on – no matter how time-consuming it might be.” Jeff Luker, Luker’s son and the vice president and chief operations officer of ACS, echoed this belief and included that stability and trust are two of the values that are held at ACS. “The core group of the company has been together for eight years. Most of our employees have children so we truly strive to put family first.”

Looking optimistically to the future of ACS, Luker is thrilled to see the next generation put their spin on the company saying, “I am the oldest person on staff in our company. I look forward to stepping aside and watching these young people take the reins and continue to grow ACS in the next few years. We have a core of people that are passionate about what we do and to be able to watch them all grow and develop is truly a fulfilling experience for me personally.”

Thanks to Luker’s keen sense of strategy and industry knowledge, ACS has become one of the nation’s leading commercial loan brokerages and is showing no signs of slowing the momentum. Furthermore, Jeff has been passionate about learning the “ACS way” structured by his father, Luker, and works to instill the core values that have been established since 2013. Jeff recently discussed the future direction of ACS and stated, “I thoroughly believe that with the quality of our staff and their drive to succeed, there’s no limit to the number of business owners we can continue to help. Our team has a great ability to be flexible and without a ‘standard deal type’ to hold to, we are always able to quickly pivot in a way that best assists our clients.”

“Exciting. Adventurous. Creative.” These are the keywords Luker uses to describe the spirit of ACS – saying further that, “Our team over these last ten years has certainly evolved. If you would have told me ten years ago that this is where we would be today, I’m not sure I would have believed you. We are blessed with people that look for ways to help our clients and not for ways to say “no” to get a deal off their desk. We have truly been blessed.”

Join ACS in celebrating 10 years of creative lending solutions, authentic networking, and exemplary leadership – 10 years of Alternative Capital Solutions and a decade of Luker building a business that continues to exceed the expectations of all who experience the “ACS way.”


ACS Welcomes New CFO

Please help us give our new Chief Financial Officer, Michelle Jordan, a warm welcome! Ms. Jordan joined our team this October and hit the ground running by joining us at the NACLB Conference in Las Vegas. Prior to her employment with us, Ms. Jordan served in several roles including Corporate Controller and CFO for a variety of financial services companies in the Nashville area. Ms. Jordan is a licensed CPA in Tennessee, and she earned her BS in Accounting from Lipscomb University in Nashville. Ms. Jordan is a member of the AICPA and TSCPA and she resides in Williamson County, Tennessee.


The Right Strategy: Professional and personal development will help you find greater satisfaction

By: Keely Pate, Alternative Capital Solutions: Director of Development

Published for The Scotsman Guide / July 2022

Commercial real estate professionals have diverse backgrounds and experiences. After the initial entry into the business — whether through an employer or a training program — lenders, brokers, credit officers and other industry professionals all navigate their own unique career, both professionally and personally.

Where these professionals find themselves at the beginning of their careers, however, is not the final destination. Expanding knowledge and building new capabilities can lead to increased effectiveness and personal satisfaction. With ongoing regulatory and economic changes, technical advancements, and shifts in personal preferences and priorities, savvy lending professionals continuously evaluate where they are and where they want to be.
Continuing education enables mortgage finance professionals to maintain existing certifications and licenses, keep up with industry trends, diversify skill sets and prepare for new growth opportunities. With so many options in the marketplace, and limited time and resources, it can be challenging to identify the right development path for each professional’s unique needs and future goals.
An ongoing and intentional continuing education strategy can help commercial real estate professionals connect activities to desired outcomes while generating increased effectiveness and satisfaction. To quote John C. Maxwell, the renowned leadership expert, speaker and author, “If you want to reach your goals and fulfill your potential, become intentional about your personal growth. It will change your life.”
You may be familiar with the concept of using a SWOT analysis to consider the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to a business or product. A personal SWOT analysis can help generate clarity about an individual’s current state of development, and the results can be used to map out an intentional path forward when it comes to professional development activities.

Evaluate your strengths

The first step is to evaluate current strengths in the areas of knowledge, skills and abilities. Then, through self-reflection and constructive feedback from others, consider weaknesses by identifying behaviors that could potentially jeopardize relationships, as well as gaps in knowledge or skills that could possibly lead to oversights or missed business opportunities.
After that, consider possible external threats that could hinder professional performance and results. Lastly, evaluate opportunities that are available within the industry and your community, as well as your professional network and other places.
The commercial mortgage industry, as those involved quickly learn, offers endless opportunity to specialize and diversify. The key for each professional is to identify which areas of specialization and diversification are right for them.
Your desired future might involve the identification of new clients within a current niche, expansion into a different geographic market, or even a new product launch or service offering. Painting the picture of a desired future expedites the decisionmaking process for professional development.
Once the current state and desired future state have been defined, it is time to explore specific continuing education options and evaluate how each initiative will lead to the desired result.
Resource constraints such as time, funds and logistics will largely factor into the selection process. The following programs and activities outline continuing education options that professionals in the commercial mortgage field have utilized, along with the connection to desired business results.

Licenses and certifications

When prioritizing continuing education, mortgage professionals should first understand the applicable state licensing requirements and the educational requirements to maintain that license. After that, optional certifications and other continuing education activities can be considered.
Jobs within the mortgage industry have varying licensing requirements, which also can differ from state to state. Currently, the distinction that drives licensing requirements is consumer lending versus commercial lending. Most consumer protection regulations are not applicable to loans made for business purposes. But regulatory changes may impact licensing requirements, subsequently affecting continuing education strategies for commercial mortgage brokers and other industry professionals.
Professional certifications are usually voluntary initiatives for individuals to gain proficiency and, particularly when granted with an exam, demonstrate mastery of related knowledge. Although some certifications require continuing education, most do not.
Colleges and universities offer a variety of adult continuing education programs. These are typically led by expert industry practitioners or faculty. Ranging in duration from a few days to several weeks, the programs usually include in-person learning, virtual learning and self-paced e-learning. This flexibility makes programs in other cities and states a possibility for professionals with busy schedules.

Networking opportunities

Another reason to take part in continuing education programs is the opportunity for networking. The adage, “It’s not only what you know, but also who you know,” rings true for those in the commercial mortgage industry. An active network of brokers, lenders, accountants, attorneys and business owners offers the expertise needed to meet your clients’ needs.
Establishing a greater presence on social media has enabled mortgage professionals to expand to new geographic markets and reach potential clients outside of their existing professional networks. Online sites offer a wealth of resources that show how to better utilize social media.
Videos on YouTube, posts on Reddit and simple Google searches offer step-by-step instructions and free online tools to help market your services on platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Even if the decision is to outsource and have someone else manage your social media strategy, having a foundational knowledge of options and strategic considerations can lead to more informed decisions.

Skill expansion

Regardless of the industry, busy professionals can build capabilities through the expansion of skills outside of their direct job roles. For example, an experienced commercial mortgage professional dedicated time to the study of jiu jitsu. They found that it helped their ability to stay calm and solve problems under pressure.
Developing this skill relates to work situations, interacting with clients and troubleshooting challenging situations. As this person put it, there are many times in jiu jitsu where you are in a bad position with an opponent and panicking will only make it worse. You must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable and to think through the solution, because overreacting will not help the situation.
A business coach also can help a mortgage professional develop new skills and strengths, including the ability to better understand situations and effectively respond to them. Many people use their own experiences and perceptions to interpret situations, then act without fully understanding the intent and motivation of others. Responding effectively, in a way that meets the needs of the situation, can make the difference in securing a client and closing a deal when the stakes are high.
In a dynamic industry such as commercial real estate finance, professionals who can listen to the client’s needs and develop effective solutions are better prepared for success. Increasing self-awareness and awareness of others helps to develop emotional intelligence or emotional quotient. Having emotional intelligence allows professionals to respond thoughtfully to situations. Utilizing a business coach, completing a personality assessment, and learning about conflict and communication styles are tools that can result in consensus building, clarity, and satisfied clients and stakeholders.
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Continuing education is not a one-way journey with a single destination. Instead, it serves as a resource to help professionals achieve desired results. It is one step within an ongoing strategic process of envisioning potential outcomes and then mapping a strategy of how to get there.
With changing external opportunities and obstacles — and with new programs and continuing education options — regular review and reassessment is a best practice for staying current and achieving fulfilling professional outcomes. After all, if you want to reach your goals and fulfill your potential, become intentional about your personal growth. It will change your life.