“You need to hire Chubb,”
Mr. Thompson advised John Orr, then Retail Director at Colliers International in Charleston, SC. Orr had been ignoring Elyse Welch’s (formerly Elyse Chubb’s) many eager requests regarding an internship with him at Colliers. John Orr, CCIM had spoken to Elyse’s Real Estate Finance class at the College of Charleston several weeks before, as part of the Carter Real Estate Center, and his presentation struck a chord with Welch. Luckily for us, this earned her a 15-minute opportunity that would prove to be life-changing.
Elyse Welch was born in Peachtree City, Georgia, where she played basketball for twelve years before picking up volleyball her sophomore year of high school. The shortest in a rather tall family at six feet, Elyse excelled at sports, and by her junior year of high school was receiving scholarship offers from D1 schools across the United States for volleyball. She wasn’t the only athletic member of the Chubb family—her mother was a high school All-American athlete and played for the University of Tennessee, her father played basketball in college, and her brother, Rob Chubb, played college basketball at Auburn, then professionally in Europe. Despite the College of Charleston’s Kresse Arena being over thirty years old (she now has a piece of the original flooring at her desk, signed by her coach), the city’s beaches, charm of downtown, and historically-winning program drew Elyse in and she signed on to play for the College over many other larger schools. There is a legacy of excellence in the Chubb family.
Volleyball was a platform for Elyse to continue to develop her winning drive. Over her four-year collegiate volleyball career, she became one of the most decorated volleyball athletes in school history: Freshman of the Year, recurring All-First Team Selection, and currently holds a dozen records for the College. In addition to a Hall of Fame Indoor Volleyball career, Elyse took the College’s inaugural Beach Volleyball team to the National Final Four, where she competed against Summer Ross, a current top ten Beach Volleyball player in the world.
While volleyball was fun and provided the perfect outlet for Elyse’s high energy and competitive spirit, it was not going to be a viable long-term career option. As her senior year came closer to ending, she began to explore what she would do with her International Business major and Spanish minor. She began to reflect on the careers of her father’s friends in real estate. She admired the lifestyles and the opportunities their jobs afforded them, so Elyse began exploring commercial real estate classes with the Carter School of Real Estate as electives, where she heard John Orr, CCIM, speak.
What struck her most about John’s lecture was his emphasis on the value of a lease—it is not just about rent rate. Elyse knew she had to work for him. She sent him follow up after follow up about her interest until, after getting no reply, she finally reached out to her dad for some advice. At the Charlotte ICSC in March of that year, John (who admits he had no idea who she was when her name was brought up by her father’s friend) agreed to chat with Elyse—if she could call him between 7:45 am and 8:00 am the next morning, during his drive between dropping his son off at school and work.
Excited to have her chance, Elyse called John the next morning from her living room, still in her pajamas, and asked for an interview. Surprisingly, he said yes, but then she got her first test: “meet me in fifteen minutes at Glazed Donuts on King Street.” She agreed, and, minutes later, found herself sprinting down King Street (“it was the fastest I have ever gotten ready in my life”) in high heels to meet him at Glazed.
John made a point in those first twenty-or-so minutes of the conversation attempting to completely dissuade Elyse from working in commercial real estate. He emphasized how old-school many of the people were to how little money she would be making to how hard it would be, and suggested that she should just take her salary job offer that was already on the table. He refilled his coffee and left her to ponder this, but when he came back she had her answer.
“I appreciate and understand what you are saying,” Elyse said graciously. “But I have a plane ticket to RECon ICSC in Las Vegas, I’m registered for the conference. I have a place to stay. I plan to return with a job in Retail Commercial Real Estate.”
Impressed with her determination—and convinced he did not want to find out what she would inevitably accomplish for someone else —John offered Elyse an internship on the spot on his team at Colliers International.
During her unpaid internship, Elyse learned about the commercial real estate world, and caught on very quickly that you must have a mentor completely committed to your success. Years of teamwork and coachability proved to be the best preparation for this career. Don’t be shy, always ask questions. Provide value. Find a mentor and absorb everything they do, how they do it, what they say and most importantly how they say it—that person does it that way for a reason, benefit from their experience. Most importantly in that first few years, you can’t know everything—but you can know everyone.
Soon, the Charleston Elyse knew expanded from a 7-block college bubble into the sprawling Tri-County area loved by so many. She hustled and worked 12-hour days to become an expert on the market, in addition to traveling up and down the East Coast competing in various pro-amateur volleyball tournaments on the weekends just to pay her rent. Her fate changed with a cold calling contest.
The non-principal agents in the office were tasked with canvassing, knocking on doors of businesses, in a designated area of Charleston to collect as many business cards possible, writing two facts they learned from the people they met at each location on the back to gather market knowledge to generate leads. The prize was $1,000 cash—something Elyse needed very much, and this seemed almost out of reach when she received her assigned area: North Charleston. Always the competitor and comfortable performing under pressure, especially when the cards are stacked against her, Elyse spent the evening planning her route and schedule. She even timed the route and everything down to the snack she packed for the 10 am to 2 pm window for the contest hours. The next day, she hit the ground running, and arrived back at the office with 90-something cards in her bag. The only other person even close to her number was another junior broker in the office, who was feeling confident with his list of 150 notes, and offered to take her for a coffee while the cards were officially counted by the principals—a very kind gesture from her competition and the clear winner of the contest. The two of them were in for an unexpected result. Even though he had collected 150 notes, most were ruled incomplete or thrown out because they did not qualify. Elyse had won! A shining moment in her very first week of her new career following the end of her 90-day internship. Many at the company were shocked she won, but what happened next really validated her commitment to Retail Commercial Real Estate. She used the prize, not to pay rent, gas or food (that she desperately needed), but instead to purchase her first CCIM class. She was committed—and now everyone knew!
By having John Orr, CCIM as a mentor and Senior on the Carolina Retail Experts, Elyse understands the importance of earning your education and the value of having the CCIM designation. Only three and a half short years after that Cold Calling contest, Elyse graduated to a leadership role on the deal team of several Shopping Center sales, new developments, redevelopments and full project lease-ups. This experience built her Commercial Real Estate portfolio of professional expertise required to earn her CCIM designation. At the time, Elyse was one of the youngest females to ever earn the designation. Since earning the designation Elyse and the Carolina Retail Experts have expanded their territory and grown into the most dominant retail services provider in the Carolinas, consistently relied on for expert advice by property owners, retailers and the media. Since joining Lee & Associates, the Carolina Retail Experts added a new Expert, Lindsey Halter, to further increase their ability to serve clients. In addition to a Who’s Who of property owner clients, the Experts are a proven leading Tenant Services Provider in the Carolinas representing clients including Academy Sports, Jim N Nicks Bar-b-que, First Watch Daytime Café, Books-a-Million, and American Family Care among others.
On a personal note, Elyse married Justin Welch in 2015. The pair met at a beach volleyball tournament at the Windjammer in 2012. Justin, who at 6’8” met her high standards (“need to be able to wear heels with him!”). Now, with their young son, Jackson, and dog, Calbert, they live on James Island. Elyse remains active playing beach volleyball, beating her husband in tennis, and enjoying the great city of Charleston. Celebrating her first full year at Lee & Associates, Elyse serves on the board for several professional and collegiate advisory boards including Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), South Carolina Commercial MLS, Commercial Market Forecast, as well as the Cougar Club at the College of Charleston, where they work to continue the important work of funding scholarships for student athletes.
Retail came naturally to Elyse, because she is passionate about understanding the psychographics of the target customer. A true understanding of the customer empowers Elyse and the Retail Services Group to create the optimal Retail Experience, generating higher sales for Tenants. The foundation of knowledge and experience with a sprinkle of ‘fairy dust’ leads to the most successful projects for Landlords and Tenants.
Elyse’s technical aptitude for the science behind retail combined with the passion and the artistic eye consistently leads to maximizing property values through strategic leasing and executing market strategies for best-in-class retails, leading to top performing sites. Elyse is the first call for these Landlords and Tenants. So, if you are serious, shouldn’t she be your first call also?