Karen L. Simon, President and Managing Partner of Emersons Commercial Real Estate-Tarrant County Division received a master’s degree from Texas Christian University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She specializes in office, retail industrial and land sectors in both leasing and sales. She has been in the commercial real estate business since 1983 and has completed over 900+ transactions encompassing thousands of acres of land and 6,000,000 square feet of building area.
At Emersons Commercial Real Estate, Karen mentors those who work for her, most of them are her younger colleagues. Business development is also her responsibility as President and Managing Partner. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of Adrian College of TCU and a Board Member of Jewel Charity which fundraises for Cooks Children’s Hospital.
Karen says “I have a role in managing the nuts and bolts at Emersons, but I am also here to try to make the company itself work for the people who work here.”
First Woman Ever to Practice Industrial Real Estate Industry in Tarrant County
With over 30 years of brokerage experience she was the first woman in Tarrant County to practice industrial real estate and the first female broker to be named the highest industrial producer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area during her years with Henry S. Miller.
Because of her experience and knowledge, Ms. Simon has been sought out by national real estate publications and local business papers as both a column writer and source for stories about real estate issues. She has also been honored by The Business Press in its “Who’s Who in Business” section as one of the Decision Makers and Heavy Hitters in Tarrant County; and was a two-time nominee for the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Newsmaker Award for Civic Involvement. She was named to the Dallas Business Journal list as the #4 Heavy Hitter in land brokerage. In 2001 she was named one of the Great Women of Texas.
In 2007, Karen was honored by the Texas Women’s Chamber of Commerce as “Business Woman of the Year.” She says that this award has given her the greatest sense of satisfaction and recognition. “It is because I had felt like I had been an example for others,” Karen says. In 2011, Karen was named as one of the most influential women in Texas by the National Diversity Council.
Karen says that “she always reminds herself that she is out there not necessarily to look after herself, but she has to look out for people who are working for her and those who will follow her.”
Life Before Getting into Real Estate
Karen is a teacher turned real estate icon. After getting out of graduate school, she began teaching at Tarrant County community college. Four years later, when she was up for tenure, she realized that there were limited professorship opportunities available for her as she was limited geographically. As Karen was a young mother to two school-going children, she could not move to a different place and explore work opportunities there.So she decided to venture out into the world.
Karen’s career outside academia began when she started working for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She worked as Head of Public Relations and Intergovernmental Relations for a five-state region. At that time she was among one of the few women in leadership roles outside Washington.
One day at the Department, she read a notice that stated that if she qualified to be a real estate broker in the state of Texas, a sales real estate license was not required. As a first step, Karen points out that she could not hold a real estate license while working at the Department as it was a conflict of interest. “But a broker could hold her own license,” she adds.
The notice made her take a two-week leave of absence from work. While studying for the exam, she found that she lacked nine classroom hours, which was equivalent to three hours of real estate semester coursework. “I took it in two weeks and sat for the exam,” Karen says. “And, to my amazement, I passed it. They gave me a year to pass it, but I passed it the first time.”
After getting her real-estate broker license, Karen met the Head the of Industrial Real Estate Department of Henry S. Miller at a Christmas function. At the time, Henry S. Miller was the largest real estate company in Texas and the fifth-largest in the U.S. Even though no women were heading its commercial departments, it made Karen a “very attractive” offer. The company offered to send her to real estate schools to prepare her for a role in the industrial real estate business. She was also offered the position of Chairman of the industrial real estate department. Karen says that Henry S. Miller also said to her that she could take as long as she wanted before she hired other people. “That is how I ventured forth in the industrial real estate business,” Karen says.
Whether she passed or failed, she always got the attention and this created a very strong desire in her to not make a fool of herself. “I also felt that I held a leadership role for other women almost, in essence, as being a pioneer in a new area.” she says
Real estate may not have been Karen’s first career choice, but she now considers it her “best” career choice.
A Successful Real Estate Business Woman
Prior to her current role at Emersons Commercial Real Estate, Ms. Simon found success in real estate in various capacities. From 1982 to 1989, she gained valuable experience as the senior vice president of the industrial and land division of Henry S. Miller. Between 1990 and 2003, Ms. Simon flourished as the president of the R.E. Group Advisors, Polo Club Enterprises Inc. and the industrial and land division of the Woodmont Company.
Soon thereafter, Ms. Simon was recruited as the executive vice president and managing partner of Bradford Commercial Real Estate Services, a role in which she thrived from 2003 to 2014. From 2014 to 2016, she was active as the president and principal of TIG Real Estate Services Metroplex West. In 1987, Ms. Simon participated in establishing the first women’s organization for women in commercial real estate, the Commercial Real Estate Women’s Organization.
Moreover, Ms. Simon has been designated as a lifetime member of the Urban Land Institute. Aside from her primary vocational pursuits, she has dedicated her time to the executive board of the Boys and Girls Club and the advisory board. of the Adrian College of Texas Christian University. Ms. Simon has likewise participated extensively as a board member and a chairperson of the Jewel Charity Ball, an organization that raises money for a local children’s hospital.
In 2016, Emersons Commercial Real Estate offered her the opportunity to start its Tarrant County division as an equal partner. Karen says that it was an “ideal” opportunity for her.
Richard Webb, a banker and real estate professional, and Matthew Price, a CPA and real estate professional, founded Emersons Commercial Real Estate in 2004. When Karen joined this full-service company, it was already managing around 7 million sq. ft. in the DFW metroplex. It also had a 9,000 sq. ft. office holding in Dallas.
And, soon after her joining, Emersons partnered with St. Louis-based Priority Properties to form 1045, which manages Kroger’s real estate nationwide. Karen says that 1045 also manages around 100 million sq. ft. across the country.
Emersons Commercial Real Estate (ECRC) is a commercial real estate firm, incorporated in 2004 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas that offers property management, leasing, and investment services across the United States.
The Emersons platform is a culmination of more than 100 years of commercial real estate experience. The platform employs professionals with a background that spans the real estate spectrum with expertise in banking, finance, accounting, leasing, development, construction management, property management, and tenant- in-common management. Emersons is dedicated to providing you with all the benefits of in-house real estate management, operating without the typical overhead, expense, and problems associated with employing your staff.
Utilizing internet and ASP software, Emersons can provide its client with secure, real-time access to property operating results, financial statements, and tenant information.
Karen asserts, “Emersons Commercial Real Estate experience is across a broad range of asset classes, geographic regions, and encompassing a diverse tenant mix. Our comprehensive approach focuses on integrated leasing and marketing strategy to maximize occupancy and tenant retention, thus enhancing asset value. Our clients are our partners. We sit down with them to determine their situation, the short-term requirements, and the long-term vision for their property investments.”
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Business Women to Achieve Success
Success is important for Karen, but she also points out that it can be measured in different ways. She says, “For me, success means you can pay your bills, and enjoy your work and it also means that you get a sense of personal satisfaction that is beyond monetary.”
Karen lives by the belief that one can achieve success without disadvantaging others. She says, “That is a strong sense of success for me to make things happen but not make people disadvantaged in the transaction.”
Her Final words for Aspiring Business Women was to “Be the best-educated for yourself that you can be.” “Be the most knowledgeable for yourself that you can be and never be afraid to say that I don’t know but am going to find out.”