The FORT Podcast: Terry Montesi

As founder and CEO, Terry Montesi has led Trademark Property Company through 26 years of innovative, community-focused development. Under his leadership, Trademark has developed more than $3.4B and 14.6M square feet of some of the most stakeholder-centric retail and mixed-use properties from coast to coast. He and Chris sit down to discuss Terry’s journey of founding companies, the current state of mixed-use retail spaces, what they see for the future of retail, and more.

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01:54 — How did your career guide your entry into the retail world?
05:47 — Is there anything you learned at Blockbuster that is still relevant today?
08:52 — Do you and your team have to determine the trade area?
09:29 — Was there a moment you turned from being scared to being optimistic about the buying process?
12:49 — What was Trademark doing in 1992? How does that compare to today’s focus?
18:51 — What triggered the change in consumers and the value of physical retail spaces?
24:38 — What makes a great public space?
33:46 — What is so valuable about your focus on mixed-used public / retail spaces?
45:33 — Is there a reason you would tell an institution “no”?
49:07 — What do you think about CloudKitchens?
49:53 — How do you know if you’ve found the right person for the job?
52:30 — If you had to give your 21-year-old self advice, what would it be?
53:15 — What is your bold prediction for the future ten years from now?

Episode Summary

Terry’s narrative commenced with a look back at his beginnings, influenced by his family’s grocery business and his early ventures into shopping center development. He underscored the significance of comprehending trade areas, transcending mere demographics to truly grasp the consumer base and their behavior. This comprehensive understanding has been a cornerstone of his approach, ensuring that each development is meticulously tailored to meet the unique needs and preferences of its community.

Reflecting on the tumultuous times of the Texas real estate crash in the late 80s, Montesi highlighted how these moments of crisis paved the way for opportunities, allowing him to acquire valuable assets at favorable prices. He narrated the evolution of Trademark Property Group since its inception in 1992, emphasizing its transition from suburban retail centers to mixed-use developments that prioritize creating quality, legacy projects. He asserted the indispensability of authenticity and consumer experience in retail, elucidating this with examples like the development of Market Street in The Woodlands.

Montesi didn’t shy away from discussing the challenges faced, from legal battles to convincing investors of the long-term benefits of investing in public spaces. He maintained that creating community-centric spaces yields long-term value and significant return on investment, a testament to his commitment to excellence and his unwavering belief in the power of quality spaces.

As the conversation delved deeper, Montesi shared his thoughts on the skepticism surrounding retail, defending its relevancy and highlighting the shift towards experiential and community-rich environments. He pointed out the necessity of evolving with changing consumer behaviors, integrating diverse elements into retail spaces to create a vibrant, holistic experience. He showcased Trademark’s proactive approach in leading this transformation, ensuring that their portfolio reflects the changing dynamics of the retail industry.

Montesi provided invaluable insights into the future of retail, envisioning a landscape dominated by service-oriented and experience-rich spaces. He underscored the diminishing role of traditional retail, predicting the rise of non-traditional tenants in retail spaces and emphasizing the importance of adaptability and strategic positioning for the future. His forward-thinking perspectives served as a clarion call for industry professionals to embrace change and proactively shape the future of retail.

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