H.T. “Trey” Odom is president and CEO of Houston-based Avera Companies, a major player in the commercial real estate industry, with industrial development, construction and investment projects in the Houston area, throughout Texas and across the country.
Odom founded Avera in 2002. His brother, Lance, joined in 2011 and their father, Hubert Odom, an attorney, came on board to handle some of the firm’s legal matters.
Avera’s team of professionals provides a range of development services for corporate clients. “We buy the land, we finance the project, we develop it, we entitle it, we built it,” Odom says. “Our specialty is industrial, and we know it.”
The CEO offered the following comments during an interview with Dale King, a contributing writer for realtynewsreport.com.
Realty News Report: In general, what kind of projects does your company handle?
Odom: We do single tenant net lease facilities for a number of different companies. We also do large bulk warehouse projects like our 225 Railport in Pasadena; Rampart Corporate Center and Imperial Distribution in Houston and Park 161 Distribution Center in Grand Prairie, a location suitable for one to three tenants that is now under construction. Several firms have expressed serious interest in locating there.
Realty News Report: Not all of your clients want large buildings, is that right?
Odom: No, oil and gasoline service companies want structures that are smaller, 25,000 to 50,000 square feet.
Realty News Report: Your 225 Railport seems like an ambitious effort. Can you describe it?
Odom: We’ve done larger projects, but this one, at 600,004, is, square footage wise, the biggest single building. It is also the most difficult one we have ever done. There were a lot of easement issues. Truck and rail service had to be added. There’s a 250 to 300-car rail yard in the back. We needed 20,000 linear feet of track. It was the only way to make it work. In the end, rail sold the project. Frontier Logistics, the sole tenant, uses this facility to process plastic pellets for shipment worldwide. It is located 10 miles west of the Port of Houston.
Realty News Report: What’s going on at your Rampart Center project in northwest Houston?
Odom: It is a 710,764-square-foot, four-building complex housing leased mainly to home building and furnishing firms. Tenants include Goodman Global Group (acquired by Daikin in 2012), which manufactures HVAC systems, in a 300,000-square-foot location; California-based Restoration Hardware, which manufactures home furnishings, in a 131,000-square-foot space; Spears Manufacturing, a plastic pipe and valve firm, in 96,000 square feet and Atlanta-based Sunbelt Marketing Investment Corp., a plumbing and piping products maker, in 60,250 square feet of space.
Realty News Report: Are you getting a lot of requests for large buildings?
Odom: Yes. In Houston alone, the deal size has become much larger. We just did a 328,000-square-foot project – and it was not a market anomaly. Fifteen years ago, no one built buildings of that size. While we were constructing the Rampart Corporate Center, Restoration Hardware came to us and secured the first building. This was great for them and great for us. Our buildings generally do not sit vacant very long.
Realty News Report: What’s on tap for Avera in the coming years?
Odom: The pace of construction has slowed. Everyone is taking a break waiting for it to go back up again. We are looking for more development locations for 2017, 2018 and 2019. Some take a long time to incubate.
Realty News Report: Your brother and your father are involved in Avera. What are the business advantages of running a family-owned company?
Odom: We’re small, but we operate all over the country. We’re not a big public or private REIT or anything like that, so we can make decisions right here in Houston. And that is our advantage. In addition, you have to work with people you trust. Is there anyone you can trust more than your own brother?