MEET THE 2017 STEMMONS NOMINEE: BILL COX
EXCLUSIVE Q&A WITH CAREY COX CO VP BILL COX
When Carey Cox founded his namesake company in 1977, fewer than 114,000 people called Collin County home. Now McKinney alone has surpassed 160,000 residents, and Cox's sons Bill and David are leading the company. Despite the area’s explosive growth, Bill Cox (a NTCAR Stemmons Service Award finalist for the second year) tells Bisnow he's as dedicated to McKinney as ever.
Bisnow: How was your 2016?
Cox: Last year was wonderful. It exceeded our expectations in revenue and creating new relationships, and growing Collin County. We see ‘17 as being equal or greater than ‘16. We’re excited about where we are. We spent most of our time maintaining our relationship with existing clients and building relationships with new clients. The bulk of our time is spent in [the] industrial market creating new development opportunities. It has been a year where our total transactions, both landlord representation and tenant representation, were beyond our projections.
Bisnow: What makes Collin County an attractive industrial market?
Cox: The transportation system, new job growth, housing options, school system, climate and the business atmosphere make Collin County attractive. Community leadership is all pulling in the same direction. We have close ties with leadership in many Collin County cities. We’re involved in projects all over the county. We’re excited to see industrial sectors in McKinney really taking off again, like areas around McKinney National Airport area and other business parks. We’ve been instrumental in creating and growing different business parks.
Bisnow: What’s your focus for 2017?
Cox: We’re going to continue the momentum and take advantage of the opportunities we have in front of us. As long as we have job growth and stability in Washington and on Wall Street, this economy is going to continue.
Bisnow: Carey Cox Co bet early on McKinney. Was that a gamble?
Cox: We have deep roots here and we knew with McKinney being the county seat and the center for county government, it would be the place where things started. I wouldn’t call it a gamble, but we made a commitment to stay in McKinney and Collin County to grow our families and our business. We’re vested in this community. It has paid off. We’re glad to be here and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bisnow: Does anything give you pause about Collin County’s rapid growth?
Cox: We need to continue to have key leadership positions filled with business-minded people. As long as we have business leaders involved in Collin County and the Metroplex, we will be successful. You think of traffic when you think of Collin County. Growth is outpacing transportation and road construction, but it’s getting better. Most of the main thoroughfares around the county are complete. Some east and west roads are behind, but they’re catching up. County leadership is doing a good job in working with state and federal funding. Traffic continues to be one of the top questions, but we do have the answers. Better roads are coming.
Bisnow: Where’s the growth in 2017?
Cox: The next large growth will be north of US 380, between US 75 and the [Dallas North] Tollway. That area is really poised for growth and you can already see it at Preston Road and 380, where people are making financial commitments to make those areas work. There’s so much energy and synergy in that area. That’s the next spot.
Bisnow: You’re one of NTCAR’s Stemmons Service Award finalists again this year. How do you serve the community?
Cox: McKinney is near and dear to my heart. I’ve been involved in many volunteer and elected positions in McKinney, including the Rotary Clubs of McKinney — where we just created and helped finance a park for individuals with special needs that will include sensory, visual and auditory equipment. I’m also involved in the Collin College Foundation, which is the fundraising arm of Collin College. It’s amazing the number of people who need financial aid to go to college. It’s important to us to provide for those who want to go to college. Today’s workforce is very competitive, and you need every advantage you can have. A college education is vital to one’s success. My work there is very close to my heart. My dad helped found the college. We have a history with them. It’s an important cause to our family.
Bisnow: What’s it really like to run a family business with your brother?
Cox: It works well with us ... We are good at different things. We’ve been raised that way to work together. We have a tremendous opportunity. My involvement in aspects of real estate and the community allow me to be good at creating relationships and new opportunities. David is very detailed. He’s good at completion and the detail it takes to understand the complexities of a real estate transaction. We’re blessed to have staff and support that understand the needs of the company and our role in the community.
Bisnow: What will McKinney look like in 10 years?
Cox: With about 160,000 people today, we have a build-out of 400,000. Those are two very different communities. We have an older downtown and a newer area west of US 75 with newer residents who also play an important role in the community. The growth will be in both areas. So much of McKinney is untapped. With a build-out of 400,000 people, McKinney will be a force to be reckoned with! Collin County [has] a population of 950,000 today, but [by] 2030 it will be approaching 2 million people. People and companies will migrate north. Land costs will drive development north. Grayson County will be the beneficiary of our growth, but the cost of doing business will drive people north of Collin County. I see this as a win for the neighboring counties. We’re active in Grayson County with industrial and land.
Bisnow: In terms of real estate, what does McKinney need?
Cox: We need more office and warehouse flex space. We need more space for existing companies that are looking forward to growth patterns — the businesses that are small today, they’re growing in the future. We have a need for available office space. If you build it, they will come. But it’s difficult these days to build on a speculative basis. If McKinney could have more office and warehouse distribution space, that would fill a big void.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Cox: Kids and the world they’re growing up in. The speed at which kids grow up. It’s a struggle for parents, regardless of their age, to truly understand the world teenagers grow up in. It’s not that you have good kids or bad kids, it’s what they’re exposed to and the speed with which they’re exposed to things older generations never had to deal with. They’re seeing social media and the news, and it’s a challenge for them to understand. We spend time with our kids every day. We talk to them, and have them talk to us so we keep an open dialogue about what’s going on in the world. We talk openly with them about current events and their lives. Parenthood is the most challenging thing you’ll ever do, but it’s the most rewarding.