T. Dallas Smith & Company is a Black owned commercial real estate services firm that specializes in Tenant and Buyer representation services for corporate users of office, industrial, and land.
The firm is Atlanta based, with offices in Dallas, TX, Los Angeles, CA and Trenton, NJ and projects across the country.
The members of the firm, in their combined CRE experience, have managed over $15 billion in transactions.
Part of that team is Cedric Michael, Principal and Vice President of T. Dallas Smith & Company. We caught up with Cedric to learn more about him and about the firm.
How did you get involved in real estate and why?
I was in high school having an obligatory meeting with my guidance counselor who had just asked me what I wanted to do with my life when his cellphone rang.
In the few minutes it took him to respond to the call, he closed a residential real estate deal worth more than some people bring home in a week. And real estate was his weekend gig.
My mind immediately started racing. If he could operate like that from a phone it meant flexibility. If he could close deals in a day it meant income. However, I knew I didn’t want to work weekends, so residential real estate was out for me.
But I thought, even at that age, I could be successful with commercial real estate Monday-Friday and in a way that did not plant me at a desk 40+ hours a week. I was sold and started mapping my plan to accomplish that goal immediately!
How were you affected by the 2008 financial crash and how did you overcome it?
Prior to that time, my life was G-O-O-D! I had just graduated from college with a Finance and Real Estate degree. While in college, I was working at Bank of America and was named the #1 Small Business Banker in the country. Still in college, I was promoted to Assistant Client Manager. I had my career path laid out and owned a little real estate myself.
The crash was truly a crash for me because the bottom fell out! Two weeks after graduation, I got laid off. Quickly, all of my investments went away. I was evicted from my apartment. I had to take a step back to an old job and move back into my dad’s basement.
It was like a Job experience for me because I lost all of my material possessions but I didn’t lose my faith. At one of my darkest points, a guy who I had only known in circles, Leonte Benton, invited me to hang out.
It was literally the meeting that changed my life. After I shared my story with him, he insisted on introducing me to this new firm he was working with called T. Dallas Smith & Company. I met Dallas and joined the firm a year later after getting my life in order.
Today, Leonte Benton and I are principals and owners of the commercial real estate firm under the leadership of founding principal, T. Dallas Smith.
How is the firm exposing more Black men and women to commercial real estate as a possible career path?
We cover it from almost every angle. We are the largest African American commercial real estate firm in the country focused solely on tenant and buyer representation so it’s in our DNA.