Wade has just about seen and experienced it all in the world of Commercial Real Estate, but as Wade has learned from previous leaders, “there is no limit to what a person can achieve, as long as they don’t mind who gets the credit.” Wade spent most of his career in Atlanta, GA…25 years in fact, where he and his wife, Melissa, raised three children. Wade credits his wife with his unimaginable personal and career success. As the saying goes, “the apple does not fall far from the tree”, holds a lot of truth in the case of Wade’s career story. As a third-generation real estate professional, it seems that even from a very young age he was destined for success in this ever-evolving industry.
Being exposed to the real estate industry early on in his childhood by his father and grandfather clearly had a special influence and life impact. Wade’s father lead construction and development operations for the Eastman Kodak Company in Kingsport, TN, and ultimately oversaw the growth and development of their large manufacturing plant in Columbia, SC. Little did Wade know, that this initial exposure to the industry by his role model and father, would help pave his way to a career in Commercial Real Estate. Due to his father’s work, Wade’s family ended up moving to Columbia, SC to be closer to the Eastman Kodak facilities, just as he was in the middle of his first-grade year of school.
Wade went on to graduate from High School and chose to attend Clemson University. Attending college with his sisters they certainly made cheering on the Clemson Tigers part of their family tradition; one which they continue still today! At Clemson, Wade became active in Greek Life, Student Government, Intramural Sports and was even able to manage being a musician with a campus ministry, on top of his demanding Mechanical Engineering studies. It was also during his time at Clemson that he met his wife, Melissa. They met on a Student Government retreat after they both had been elected to the Student Senate. Flash forward to present day, Wade’s family is the definition of a complete Clemson family; all three children graduated as Tigers plus two daughters-in-law. Wade is also very fortunate that upon his children’s graduation, everyone decided to stay in South Carolina. Now a fourth generation of Allens are part of the South Carolina real estate industry. His oldest son is a real estate attorney in Charleston and his youngest son is a commercial real estate broker in Greenville.
Flash back to Wade’s time at Clemson – during his studies at Clemson, he also took part in several summer work internships; one which was serendipitously at the Eastman Kodak Company. There, he learned some practical hands-on skills within the electrical contracting trade. During that summer, Wade’s eyes were opened to a different career path than he had originally envisioned. His summer construction experiences encouraged him to pursue and use his Mechanical Engineering degree to be more client-facing and more personally involved in projects with clients “out in the field” and ultimately not be tied to a “behind the desk design job”.
Shortly after college, Wade and Melissa followed their hearts, got married and moved to Dallas, TX to start new careers. Wade accepted a Sales Engineer position with a manufacturer and installer of building automation and control devices for HVAC mechanical systems. He was designing and selling building control systems, as well as selling maintenance contracts for complex mechanical systems. He loved the exposure to people and began cultivating numerous relationships with all types of real estate users and occupiers, including office, industrial and institutional. This experience helped him learn a great deal about buildings from a construction, engineering and facility-operations perspective. Wade went on to grow and manage the Southeast operations of a large company, which was ultimately acquired and is now known as Siemens Building Technologies. One of his clients was The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, GA. Because of his past experiences, technical expertise and vast knowledge of different asset types, Coca-Cola hired Wade to oversee their global real estate portfolio and lead the development, construction and operation of their facilities world-wide. This experience gave Wade firsthand exposure to the corporate occupier side of real estate. He spent 10 years overseeing corporate real estate portfolios for numerous Fortune 500 companies, including SunTrust Bank (now known as Truist).
As a known leader in the corporate real estate arena, Wade’s skills and connections were highly sought by Trammell Crow Company which was soon after acquired by CBRE. Jumping back to the service provider side of commercial real estate, Wade was hired to oversee the brokerage team supporting Bank of America’s real estate portfolio. After five years of tremendous success in that role, CBRE asked him to lead their client relationship management for JPMorgan Chase Bank (JPMC). In the Alliance Director role, Wade oversaw brokerage transactions and project management services for JPMC, including the program management for a large national retail branch expansion. After his lengthy time supporting financial services clients, Wade was ready to try something different. He transitioned into the Industrial & Logistics portfolio sector as Global Alliance Director where he oversaw CBRE’s global real estate services for Iron Mountain, a large information management company with more than 85M square feet of real estate in over 40 countries. Wade’s responsibility included the oversight of transactions, lease administration, project management and facility management of Iron Mountain’s international portfolio.
It was during this time of Wade’s career successes that he and Melissa moved back closer to home and settled in Atlanta, where they raised three children. After 25 years in Atlanta, the state of South Carolina was calling them back and they made a permanent move to Charleston, SC in 2013. Their move allowed the empty-nesters to be closer to their growing family, which now includes their three children and spouses, four grandchildren and another grandchild arriving soon! With a good-hearted son-in-law as the only exception, they are one big orange Clemson Tiger cheering family!
His latest real estate adventure brought him to a new role as President at Lee & Associates. After years of commuting to remote cities for work, as well as significant international travel, Wade saw himself working somewhere that was close to his home and family. While he has no intention of slowing down, Lee & Associates is the perfect fit for him. As President, Wade has the ability to use his many years of experience and industry knowledge to further grow and build the company. While already a full-service real estate firm, Wade sees the potential to grow service lines, the customer base and expand into new adjacent markets. One of his passions is people and he was drawn to the Lee & Associates value of “people first”. He enjoys building effective teams and mentoring the next generation of leaders in the real estate industry, an opportunity his new role will allow. He is often reminded of some career advice his mother often shared. She always encouraged him and his sisters to “lift as you climb”. She recognized that success was not an individual thing, and that those who would most enjoy their careers would bring others along with them. Wade now encourages his mentees that the further up the success ladder they go, be sure to take others along with you. As previously noted, he also knows that crediting others is an important leadership quality. True to his advice, he has spent his entire career lifting others up while finding his own success.
When Wade isn’t spending time in the office or with family, he is committed to community involvement. Being involved within the community is very important to Wade and he often encourages his colleagues to “use your ‘for pay’ skills outside your ‘for pay’ job”. For more than 20 years, Wade has volunteered with Camp Twin Lakes, a camp for children with life challenging medical conditions and special needs. He has been a board member since 1997 and is now a Life Board Member. As Site and Facilities Chairman, he oversaw the development of two separate full-service camp sites. Giving back to his alma mater is also important and he has served on many boards at Clemson University including the Board of Visitors, Will-to-Lead Capital Campaign Committee as the Student Affairs Chair, Parents Development Board, including the National Board Chair leadership role. Additionally, he enjoys using his musical talents. As a band member of his church’s worship team, he leads worship several Sundays each month. Whether singing contemporary Christian genre or more traditional hymns, his voice transcends all generations and he lifts spirits within one of Charleston’s largest congregations.
We are very lucky to have Wade and are excited for all that he is bringing to our organization.