At age 28, Micah McCullough likes what he’s doing and sees a bright future in it. He’s vice president and broker associate of Jackson-based UCR Properties, a division of the Underwood Companies. He helped start UCR Properties in 2009 to provide third party real estate services.
“My day-to-day responsibility is overseeing our third party and company owned commercial real estate portfolio consisting of approximately 400,000 square feet of office and retail properties with an estimated market value of $30 million,” he said. “Specifically, I handle acquisitions, brokerage, leasing and asset management.”
McCullough was born in Covington, La., but spent most of his growing-up days in Byram when his dad retired from the ministry. His mother is a first grade teacher with the Jackson Public Schools. After graduation from Terry High School, he earned a degree in real estate with minors in managerial finance and management at Ole Miss.
As far back as elementary school McCullough was business minded. He remembers buying candy in bulk and selling it for a healthy profit by undercutting vending machines. In middle school he says he essentially had a baseball card shop in his back pack to buy, sell and trade cards during class breaks and after school. Things changed in high school when he became intrigued by real estate and started paying attention to the architecture and design of existing real estate and developments. “One of my friend’s father was a residential builder and I did some odd-and-end manual jobs and was exposed to that side of thee business, which quickly made me realize I didn’t like the construction side of real estate,” he said.
After paying his way through college, McCullough was ready to go to work in residential real estate. “Luckily the economy changed my career path for the better as I definitely enjoy the commercial side of the business,” he says.
However, the commercial side of real estate is not without challenges. With Jackson a small market compared to places such as Atlanta and Houston, he must do a little bit of everything to thrive – versus being able to specialize in a specific property service or sector. “This ultimately translates into having to be an expert on almost all property sectors and the services needed to make commercial real estate tick,” he said. “Our firm is relatively small so for me personally, delegation and spreading the work around is one of my most difficult challenges, which translates into taking on too many assignments and long work days and weeks.”
McCullough also finds managing and leasing the same properties can be tough; that is playing good guy/bad guy, mediator and sometimes family counselor. “You name it,” he said. “We do business with our customers at their best and their worst times and become friends with many of the tenants at the properties we manage. But at the end of the day, my best interest has to be the overall performance of the property, and working for property owners you can’t always be the tenants’ best friend.”
A large part of what he does is fee based. Therefore he finds it difficult to work on deals for weeks and months to have them fall apart because of something out of his control. “It’s part of the profession, but it can really deflate your sails when you think you’re flying high,” he said. “But, every day is different. Commercial real estate is a very dynamic industry and I learn something new every day. Those are the things I most enjoy about what I do.”
This young professional also likes the people he meets and the connections he makes in all spectrums of the business community. “People in commercial real estate are some of the funniest people you’ll ever meet,” he says.
“Since Jackson is a small market, I get to connect with these professionals on a regular basis. I consider them all friends, ranging from guys in their early 20s to 80-year-old men, and I can learn something from all of them.”
Looking ahead, McCullough hopes to drive UCR Properties to be an industry leader and trend setter in Mississippi. “I think there will be a lot of opportunities for growth in the near future,” he said.
“I would like to get more into the development side of commercial real estate as the market hopefully continues to improve and also acquire properties on my own behalf.”
There’s no wife in his life but he likes to spend down time on the golf course, watching sporting events with friends and traveling. He also admits to a somewhat unhealthy obsession for exotic European cars and dreams of owning one.
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