Randall Bentley, President, Lee & Associates
Quietly, over a career that spans more than 40 years and shows no sign of sign of slowing down, Randall Bentley is part of a generation that has left an indelible mark on the Upstate. President of the commercial real estate firm Lee & Associates / Greenville-Spartanburg, Bentley’s signature seems to be everywhere – just drive south down I-385 and you’ll see his company’s logo flying proudly on massive banners announcing another major new industrial building.
Not a bad legacy for a fellow who grew up in Fountain Inn. There, in the rolling hills of southern Greenville County, Bentley developed an appreciation for the land, along with a natural gift for meeting people and building lasting friendships. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, Bentley returned to the Upstate and began learning the dynamics of commercial real estate from the best in the business. In 2011, he saw the opportunity to join with Orange County, CA-based Lee & Associates and opened the Greenville office.
The firm specializes in the acquisition, disposition, and leasing of industrial, office, retail, flex, land and investment properties. But for Bentley, his love and expertise has always been in working with large scale manufacturers and distributors to find the ideal building to meet their needs.
“At the heart of Greenville and Spartanburg is a simple love of going to work,” he says. “From the textile mills of the past to today’s modern manufacturing plants, we like to make things and we do it well. I suppose my true passion is helping people and companies find the perfect place to do their best work.”
Today, in a world that thrives on depersonalized digital technologies, Bentley is a welcome throwback to firm handshakes and simpler times. Obviously, his offices are “plugged in” digitally, but Bentley has guided his team at Lee & Associates to take a holistic approach to every client’s situation. As he notes, it’s important to see beyond the transaction.
“Sometimes it’s a transactional business and part of our mission is helping companies locate precisely the right space to meet their needs,” he says. For example, Bentley helped Trane establish a 55,000 square-foot regional distribution center at Mauldin’s new 385 Business Park. A joint initiative with Hughes Commercial Properties, the 155,000-square-foot complex provides five-minute interstate access, a sizable employment base, plenty of housing within a 15-minute commute and high-profile visibility – all of which was important to Trane.
At the heart of the deal was Bentley’s grassroots knowledge of the Upstate market, as well as sensing the perfect timing and bringing the right partners to the table. “You see that building today and it feels like a great fit for Mauldin and the Upstate, with Trane and (international agricultural equipment manufacturer) Alö. But, just a few years ago 385 Business Park was an empty field. Working with Hughes, we saw a need and felt that piece of land offered all the solutions. That’s the real fun of what we get to do in this business.”
Bentley’s relationships with successful developers like Jackson Hughes, Mark Cothran and others go back 20-30 years. “There’s no exclusivity there; I serve many masters,” he says with a smile. “I just enjoy the opportunity to share ideas, collaborate and see a great project come to life that benefits the Upstate. We’re very blessed to work with many of the Upstate’s most experienced developers. There’s a deep level of trust there.”
Lee & Associates also works with private investors who have the right desire and vision. According to Bentley, the company takes the extra time to get to get to know each client and understand the unique objectives.
“I look any client in the eye and tell them, with complete honesty, that I will treat your money like it’s my inheritance. Nothing is more important than our integrity and commitment to do the right thing.”
This content first appeared in the GSA Business Report Book of Experts.