CREW Atlanta Relationships Form Foundation for Business Success

March 10, 2020
Written by: Ellen Smith
CREW Atlanta connections get business done. As a commercial real estate lawyer at Parker Poe, I’m involved daily in helping developers, owners and operators close a broad variety of multimillion-dollar loans, sales and acquisitions. It’s common for CREW members to work together on projects of all sizes, and those notable collaborations are recognized each year by the CREW Network Impact awards for excellence and achievement in commercial real estate.

So, it is no surprise that when my firm found itself in the market for new office space, I experienced first-hand the unique benefits that CREW membership brings to a project.

As the Atlanta office relationship partner for Parker Poe, I am responsible for guiding the relocation of the firm’s 26 employees in Atlanta. That role has included negotiating for space in our existing building as well as looking elsewhere in Midtown. Our firm is continuing to expand our presence and service offerings in the Atlanta market, and ultimately, we decided to lease almost an entire floor – approximately 20,000 square feet – at 1075 Peachtree. Construction for the approximately $8.5 million expansion effort was completed in January 2020.

Having never moved a law firm before, I relied heavily on the relationships I had established through my involvement in CREW Atlanta over the last decade in order to put my team together.

My involvement in CREW allowed me to accelerate the process because I know key players in every segment of the industry. Relationships that grew from serving on the CREW Atlanta board, various committees and participating in meetings provided me with a deeper understanding of what each of these professionals do and the value they bring to the project. If I didn’t have a personal relationship with a particular vendor, I had a team of industry experts from whom to get referrals.

For instance, as a commercial real estate lawyer, in my daily work I don’t often deal with people who provide office furniture solutions. However, through CREW I know several people who handle various aspects of office furniture and am familiar with what their companies offer. We have even had CREW meetings inside showrooms where I have seen their products.

On every aspect of the Parker Poe project there was a competitive bid process. While we looked at other buildings and vendors, CREW members were also included in each of those bid processes – not just because they were CREW members, but because I knew their work. More important than relationships I had were the relationships between vendors. Having those relationships and a history of working collaboratively helped these companies to provide better service, and in the end, the winning bids.

Among the CREW Atlanta members involved in the Parker Poe project are:
  • Heather Lamb of CBRE, serving as the landlord’s real estate broker;
  • Stephen Wells of Hendrick, serving as the interiors architectural firm;
  • Greer Gallagher of Holder, serving as general contractor;
  • Wendy Padrutt of Knoll, providing office furniture;
  • Sarah Evans of Global Furniture Group, providing office furniture; and
  • Chrissy Smith of Dekalb Office Environments, providing moving logistics.
At CREW meetings we try to share success stories, and I make a deliberate effort to not only share what’s going on in my business but to understand what’s going on with someone else’s business to see if there’s an opportunity to help. CREW Atlanta’s membership has both breadth and depth of expertise represented. Unlike other real estate industry organizations, you can work with a CREW member on a project from dirt to completion. With 400 members across metro Atlanta and 12,000 in the international CREW Network, you’re bound to find the help you need.

Without question, the relationships I have formed through CREW have been the greatest benefit of the organization for me. For your next real estate project, see what CREW can do for you.
Ellen Smith

Ellen Smith is the Atlanta office managing partner at Parker Poe. Clients turn to Ellen for help closing real estate transactions, navigating land use and zoning, and resolving disputes. Her clients include Fortune 500 corporations, commercial real estate developers, telecommunications companies and residential care facilities. Ellen can be reached at