Spoken Here: Walter Byrd, Samir Yajnik and Eddy Benoit

The Alfred A. Ring Distinguished Speaker Series brings real estate leaders to campus to speak with UF real estate students and faculty.

Walter Byrd

Walter Byrd is executive managing director at Transwestern, where he and his team help clients like delivery giant DHL locate and negotiate warehouse space. After graduating with a bachelor’s in psychology from UF, Byrd stumbled into a career in real estate. In his Nov. 2 presentation, he spoke of locating hard-to-find properties already entitled and near major airports. Companies’ industrial requirements are detailed and varied, such as special loading docks, renewable energy and equipment (ever heard of edge-of-dock levelers, or EODs?). All these matter in placing a tenant in the right building in the right location. “They aren’t just big boxes,” he said of industrial spaces.

Samir Yajnik

Samir Yajnik serves as principal and chief investment officer at Satori Collective, an Atlanta-based investment firm that specializes in developing and managing hotels as a franchisee for major brands like Holiday Inn Express. In his Jan. 18 presentation, Yajnik spoke of the company’s blueprint to build properties in carefully selected locations, prove profitability and sell to investors within a few years. The hospitality real estate business is a “completely different beast” than other real estate sectors, he said, stressing how customer service is paramount to success. “It’s real estate and an operating business,” he said.

Eddy Benoit

Eddy Benoit spoke Jan. 25 about the challenges of developing complex mixed-use projects that include collaborating with governmental agencies and private entities and catering to the intense desires of local residents and elected officials. Benoit, founder of The Benoit Group, an Atlanta development firm, provided a case study of the District at Bowen, a 2,000-unit housing and commercial project in the early stages of being built on 74 acres that once was the site of an Atlanta housing project. He estimated the $750 million development will take 10 years to build, but it all started with winning an ultracompetitive $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “This is the biggest deal I’ve done in my career,” he said. Check out another Benoit project on page 20.

Find recordings of Ring speaker presentations online.