As a vice president and senior regional
director for Houston-based Weingarten Realty, a REIT that owns, develops and manages neighborhood
and community shopping centers across the country, Rick Carson is a very busy
man. Fortunately for us, he recently spared a few minutes to discuss his
responsibilities at the firm, how he got into commercial real estate and his
love of a good book.

Carson.RichardHS: Give us a brief overview of your
responsibilities at Weingarten.

Carson: I oversee Weingarten’s growth initiative for our eastern region,
which includes the area from Washington D.C. through southern Florida. Our
growth activities include the development of new retail assets, the acquisition
and re-development/repositioning of under-utilized centers, and the pure-play
acquisition of performing retail assets to add to our portfolio.

Within the
region, we have offices in Atlanta; Raleigh, N.C.; Orlando, Fla.; and Ft.
Lauderdale, Fla., with the strong possibility that we will add an office in
Washington D.C. at some point. We have a significant portfolio in and around
each of those markets, and each office is staffed with qualified associates
representing all real estate disciplines including leasing, management,
construction, development and acquisition.

HS: What initially drew you into a career
in commercial real estate?

Carson: My education and early experience were in marketing and finance. I
grew up in the finance industry, marketing and structuring leveraged buy-outs,
mezzanine financing and the financing of high-growth companies. I also managed
a portfolio of existing loans, and I enjoyed the multi-dimensional nature of
those activities.

After several
years of doing that, I was looking for an opportunity that provided the complex
nature of marketing and finance with an entrepreneurial spirit of doing deals. Through
a long-time personal friendship with Charlie Hendon, we met and figured out a
way to combine my business skills — which admittedly did not include real
estate — with Charlie’s desire to grow his company, Hendon Properties, and help
him do so. It wasn’t as risky as it sounds because we had known each other for 20
years, and there was nothing (well, not much) on our resumes we didn’t already
know and trust about each other. 

HS: If for some reason you couldn’t work
in commercial real estate, what would you like to do? 

Carson: An interesting question and one that we’ve all wondered about during
the past few years, given industry conditions. While I can’t imagine not doing
something in commercial real estate, whether full-time or part-time, I think if
all jobs paid the same, I would likely teach or coach. I’ve always enjoyed the
coaching and training opportunities within the business environment, and I
would likely try that in an academic setting. Coincidentally, I’ve been looking
into opportunities to teach an evening class, and we’ll see where that goes.

HS: What was the last movie you saw and
what's your favorite film of all time?

Carson: I tend to read much more than I go to movies. I go through periods of
reading fiction for enjoyment, then I’ll feel guilty and switch over to
something I feel I missed or need to know. I travel fairly often and usually
have some type of mystery or detective book on my iPad, something by authors
like David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, James Patterson and John Grisham. At the
same time, I have a CD set about the Civil War in my car that I am listening to.

It’s a little bit
like this business in which we find ourselves — there’s this constant struggle
between doing what you’d like to do and doing what you need to do. The good
news is that, most of the time, those two things overlap.

Additional Reading:

Four on Friday: Charlie Hendon of Hendon Properties