Ford Tomlin, the
assistant vice president of leasing and brokerage for GBT Realty Corp. in
suburban Nashville, Tenn., was born with real estate in his bones. His father
George founded the company 25 years ago, and Ford is now playing a critical
role in the firm’s success, which continued right through the recent recession.

We recently got
a chance to chat with Ford about GBT’s recent activities, the scope of the
firm’s services, how he got involved in commercial real estate and his passion
for the outdoors. Many thanks to Ford for his time.


PhotoHS: Give us
a brief overview of GBT Realty Corp. What kinds of properties does GBT Realty
focus on developing, and besides development, what other services does the firm
offer?

Tomlin: GBT Realty Corp. was formed in 1987 by my
father, George B. Tomlin. We are located just outside of Nashville in the
suburb of Brentwood, and we develop projects throughout the country.

Over the past few
years, GBT has been involved with the development, construction, leasing and
management of more than 20 million square feet of retail development, including
grocery-anchored shopping centers, neighborhood centers, regional power
centers, mixed-use lifestyle centers and net-lease properties. GBT has many
years of experience with local, regional and national tenants. These
tenants include names such as Publix, Harris Teeter, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, Target,
Walgreens, Best Buy, Dollar General, Ross, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, CVS,
Marshalls, PetSmart and T.J. Maxx, to name a few.

HS: Your
company has been notable for continuing to develop during the sluggish economy.
Explain how your firm responded to the recession.

Tomlin: During the downturn of the economy, GBT was
able to quickly adapt to meet the changing real estate climate. The company
created the GBT Net Lease Division, which has contributed greatly to the
on-going success of our firm in recent years. At the inception of the Net Lease
Division, GBT formed an equity investment fund to fuel its growth and has since
successfully completed six additional funds.

Since the first
quarter of 2009, GBT has developed more than $270 million of new properties
throughout the United States, including more than 220 net-leased, single-tenant
properties and a recently completed regional power center anchored by Target.
GBT is currently developing a large power center in Pooler, Ga., a mixed-use
lifestyle center in Brentwood, and we have many more projects in the pipeline.

HS: How did
you get into commercial real estate, and what do you find most appealing about
the industry?

Tomlin: Ever since I was young, I can remember
being told I would grow up to be an attorney or politician one day. I think
people based that on my constant negotiations with parents, friends and teachers while growing up.

In my earlier
years, I wanted to be involved in some way in the medical field. However, due
to my constant conversations with my dad about what he did, I quickly
understood that this was the industry best suited for me, based
on my personality.

What really got
me hooked on commercial real estate was the thrill of the deal, and that
quickly landed me in the leasing/brokerage department,
where I have been for the past three years.

HS: We hear
you're an avid outdoorsman – what outdoor endeavors do you most enjoy, and what
are some other ways you like to relax when you're not on the job?

Tomlin: When it comes to fresh air and little-to-no
cell phone service, I’m there. I spend a good amount of my time at our family farm outside of Nashville hunting, fishing, shooting clays, floating
the river and just enjoying the outdoors. I was recently on the Outdoor
Channel’s “Pro Team Journal” fishing show
with the legendary angler Shaw
Grigsby (the episode also appeared on ESPN).

I’ve also completed
the Music City half marathon and the Warrior
Dash
, which is an
obstacle-filled race, and I’m looking to do Tough
Mudder
in 2013. These all
give me a reason to stay in shape!