A Small Town Packs a Big Punch
How Art Barry Brought Business Back to Central Georgia
When Coldwell Banker Commercial Eberhardt & Barry opened its doors in 1970, central Georgia’s textile industry occupied much of the large scale industrial real estate in Macon and central Georgia. Today, Art Barry III, co-owner and son of the firm’s founder, is revitalizing the area’s industrial real estate business.
Over the decades, many textile factories moved operations away from Georgia leaving over 500million square feet of industrial real estate vacant in the state along with over 100,000 jobs. It was a challenge to revitalize the area with new industry and jobs.
Art saw how a few of central Georgia’s characteristics would be big assets in attracting global industry. Not only was the surrounding area filled with hardworking, honest people, but central Georgia is close to the port of Savannah – making it easy for companies to ship manufactured products around the world. As Georgia produces the most poultry and wood exports of any U.S. state, it’s also an ideal space for human and pet food manufacturers. Also, the central location is sought after by companies for their eastern U.S. product distribution centers.
Art and his team recently sold industrial space to major companies across central Georgia, which helped bring jobs back to the region. In one case, Butler, Georgia, a small town of about 2,000 people, once had a large dye plant that employed most of the people in the town, but the plant became vacant for many years. Art sold the plant to another textile company that brought about 200 jobs back to the town.
“When you help replace 200 to 300 jobs in a small town of only a few thousand people, you get a lot of appreciation from the community for what you do and it makes you want to be successful for other towns,” said Art.
Art’s work in the region was also praised by the local development authority in Upson County, outside of Atlanta. “Art’s passion for rural community has helped assure clients that they will have full support when locating in Thomaston and Upson County. Working with Art is like working with a longtime friend. He respects you, wants to bring jobs and investment to our community and has a sincere interest in our team,” said Kyle Fletcher, executive director of the Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority. During 2018, Art sold five manufacturing/distribution facilities in Upson Country for five different companies totaling over 2million square feet that replaced over 500 jobs in the area. Today, Coldwell Banker Commercial Eberhardt & Barry is as big as it has ever been and serves the needs in five Southeast states.
Here are Art’s three tips for succeeding in commercial real estate in small towns:
- Stay in Touch: Art is old-school with a modern twist. He knows the importance of always keeping in touch with clients and personal communication. Send Christmas cards and remember birthdays! It may be easy to reach out on LinkedIn when it is someone’s birthday, but don’t underestimate the importance of the old-fashioned call or hand-written card. “When you get a birthday card, they’ll know that you just don’t know them from LinkedIn, but you really know them. “When it’s time to pick a broker, they’re going to reach out to the person that knows them,” said Art.
- Build Relationships with Appraisers: Art often gets calls from appraisers looking for information about a property. Art has found that building a relationship with appraisers by giving them the information they’re asking for is a great way to network. Appraisers are usually the first ones to hear from a bank about the status of a property, so brokers with good appraiser relationships tend to be the first ones to be offered the listing. “You wouldn’t believe the number of appraisers who’ve called me over the years saying, ’I’m doing an appraisal on a property – would you be interested in having the listing if it goes to market?’ It’s because they know you care, you’re a professional in the business and they can depend on your information,” Art said.
- Stay in the Know about News: Read your local paper to learn of new opportunities in your area. Keeping a subscription to a business magazine keeps Art updated on personnel moves at large companies, government projects looking for contract work and companies considering relocation.
Art and his family are pillars in Macon’s rural community. His son, Patrick, joined Coldwell Banker Commercial Eberhardt & Barry six years ago, making him the third Barry generation to join the business. When he’s not selling industrial real estate, Art can be found on his pine tree farm.