With expertise in geography and location analysis, Tim Lawrence helps retailers and developers find the perfect site. Now, Tim is expanding upon his real estate knowledge in the MSRE program.
What is your educational background and professional experience?
I majored in Geography and English at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. Because of my interest in Location Analysis, one of my professors recommended a master’s program at UNC-Charlotte. I completed the MA in Geography at UNC-Charlotte, a program focused on Location Analysis, particularly retail location.
I became interested in under-served retail markets, particularly inner-city retail potential. While in that program, I was hired to complete research projects for two wonderful companies that were on the brink of rapid expansion into under-served markets. At Supervalu, I built a sales forecasting tool for potential new Save-A-Lot store locations. Supervalu was one of the first retail chains to conduct detailed market analysis studies decades before I had the opportunity to work for the same department.
After that, at Family Dollar, I interned with the real estate department. I conducted a customer-spotting project to determine trade area parameters. Using this information, we were able to create a model to use for evaluating prospective sites. Family Dollar soon hired me as a Real Estate Manager, a position I held for six years, both in Charlotte and the Twin Cities. I found this to be an excellent opportunity to gain retail real estate experience and exposure to dozens of retail markets throughout the country to complement my background in retail market planning and analysis.
Currently, I operate my own commercial real estate brokerage, Terrager Corporation, with a focus on location consulting for developers and retailers.
Why did you choose the MSRE program at UST?
I was taking continuing education classes for my real estate license and at that time and also considering pursuing an MBA. I decided to do the MSRE because of my liberal arts educational background. I wanted more specific real estate education that included more advanced real estate financial analysis. The depth and breadth of my understanding of real estate has drastically improved in the program. I saw hundreds of retail markets in my line of work, and I saw markets as a location analyst does. By improving my financial knowledge, I am able to better understand retail real estate markets, and this was my motivation for entering the program.
Talk about your experience in the program so far, what are the benefits, and what have you learned?
The people are tremendous. The program has students with varying degrees of experience, and in so many parts of the industry. The professors do an excellent job of complementing their own expertise with guest speakers who are magnificent, truly some of the best in our field. It’s been nice getting to know everybody in the program because we all have an interest in real estate but each person has their own specialties. The best aspect of the program is how much can be learned through each person’s different background. This exposure to each part of the industry is so important because all the pieces are so inter-related. When the credit crisis hit, for example, many in the industry were surprised to have been so affected. We are all specialized; it is tempting to focus only on one’s own area within the industry. I now have a much better understanding of how real estate’s many parts are tied together.
What was your career goal when you entered the program and how has it evolved since?
I was most interested in Real Estate Development when I started the program. Having a more comprehensive knowledge of real estate, I am now interested in a few other areas. I still have an interest in Development; and I still thoroughly enjoy the process of putting together a real estate deal. Yet my experiences and education may ultimately make me best-suited for a role in corporate real estate that involves an understanding of both market planning and analysis and deal-making. I really enjoy collaborating with others towards a common goal; and I have learned that there are several areas of real estate where I might utilize my skills in the future.
How do you balance work, coursework, and other life demands? What’s your favorite non-real estate pastime?
It’s always a work in progress, but I definitely make time to travel when I can. I also enjoy skiing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and camping. I visit the BWCA a couple of times each year. I like to run and workout. In the winter I still play hockey and snowboard. I have a long list of books I want to read when I am finished with classes!