Insights Mar 15, 2022

Cam Deacon: Making Business Choices in the Relationship Game of CRE

Luis Delgado: (00:04)

Welcome everyone to the RealAtom podcast series, where you will learn about brokers on the RealAtom platform and the organizations that they represent. My name is Luis Delgado, I’m an Account Executive at RealAtom. RealAtom is the industry’s number one lending as a service platform empowering commercial estate lenders, like banks, credit union stock, banks, and organizations to generate more CRE loans. Today I have the pleasure of introducing managing partner Cam Deacon at Deacon Capital Partners. Welcome. Thank you for taking the time to present to us today. Tell us what got you into the commercial estate space and how you ended up where you are today.

Cam Deacon: (00:48)

Yeah. So I think I have somewhat of a unique journey into the commercial real estate world at least on the broker side. My background is I actually did go to school for finance and real estate, my majors. So I started my career as a banker and from the very bottom started as a teller. Very quickly moved into becoming a commercial analyst and you know, just kind of always enjoyed commercial real estate. And that’s mainly what I was working on as an analyst at, you know, 24 years old. And I had an opportunity to get a promotion as a commercial real estate loan officer. And so I took that and was a commercial lender for a big regional bank for quite a while.

Cam Deacon: (01:44)

And honestly, I got introduced to the broker space through a family friend and he was a broker in town – is a broker in town – and I kind of became his go-to commercial lender for projects he was working on. And so I placed quite a few deals with him. I think through the process, I kind of realized I was on the wrong side of the transaction, and he was obviously, he was doing really well. He does lumber projects. He specializes in a lot of multifamily deals and things like that. And, you know, I just enjoyed that aspect and I’ve always wanted to be out on my own anyway. And I didn’t really have any interest in working for someone and the bank that I was at I’d hit the glass ceiling pretty quickly even into my late twenties.

Cam Deacon: (02:36)

And so actually I had an opportunity at the time to move outta state and the bank I was working for did not have any offices in the state we were moving to. And so, hey, at 29 years old, I decided, what the hell I’ll take the leap and, and jump out and outta corporate banking. And I had a lot of deals in the pipeline that I was working on at the time and, and called up those clients and said, Hey, this is my plan. This is what I’m doing. Would you be interested in hiring me as a placement agent or as your broker – most of ’em agreed and that kinda is what kicked it all off. And that was about 10 years ago. And about two years into it, my father decided to come in, he basically semi-retired and asked if he could join and I’m, I’m more of the deal guy. I like to be out in front of our clients and, and making deals and negotiating with our banks. And he’s really good at doing our office work, our analysis, analyzing cash flows and things like that. So it became a really nice partnership and yeah, we’re still doing it today.

Luis Delgado: (03:49)

Awesome. Can you tell me about that partnership, your firm and what you guys specialize in. I know you have some slides today, you can share your screen here.

Cam Deacon: (04:06)

Again, it’s really just me and my father. It’s a two-man team, but we work really well together in our roles and responsibilities. I consider him our COO CFO, and as a managing partner and founder as I said, I’m sourcing our deals, I’m out negotiating meetings, doing things like that. So when I was in banking kinda later in my banking career, I got involved with several hospitality groups, and that’s really kind of where things kind of took me as I transitioned into becoming a broker. And these transactions that we’ve been working on are very complicated and they take a long time to close, but here just a couple of deals that we’ve worked on, these are pretty recent projects actually.

Cam Deacon: (05:03)

So the AC by Marriott and then the Lafayette, and both here in Little Rock are actually located just a couple of blocks away. I mean, see, you can see one from the other. It’s pretty funny. So these were both really unique projects, in the fact that they were what we call historic repurpose. What’s the word I’m looking for? Just redevelopments, essentially. These were both commercial office buildings that were redeveloped into hotels. It was originally a hotel that was converted to condos and commercial space. Now it’s been converted back to a hotel. It’s pretty interesting. It’s a really old, beautiful building, but it’s a really nice project. The AC was the same. It was a commercial office building the development group originally talked about doing multifamily here.

Cam Deacon: (05:58)

And then we went through the cash flow analysis and projections and things and decided the hotel was probably a better fit. So these are both unique. The cap stacks are very similar in these two deals to different borrowing groups, but we utilized state and federal historic tax credits on these and know also pace financing. So pace is property assessed, clean energy. It’s a pretty unique thing. That’s not how many pace deals are done, especially in the state of Arkansas, but the ones that have been done here we’ve been involved in. So it’s pretty exciting. So like I said, this was, these are very complicated. It was bringing in senior debt along with equity state and federal historic tax credits. And then what we did with these deals is we actually bridged the credits and brought all that capital in, at the closing of the senior debt. So we got, say, just call it 90 cents per dollar on the tax credits. And then we found a bridge lender that was able to bridge those credits to bring all of that capital in and closing, instead of having to wait through the vesting period of those credits over a five-year period we essentially put that in as additional owner equity into the deal. And yeah, we’re able to get these two done. So two very exciting projects, both in about the 20 million range.

Luis Delgado: (07:18)

Yeah, yeah, no, I love that. I’m curious. What’s the craziest deal you’ve closed? One that seemed impossible and somehow you got it done.

Cam Deacon: (07:27)

This deal is on the right. Yeah. so this is literally almost the same structure as the two in Little Rock. This is a cool property. It is the original shell oil corporation. It’s their Midwest headquarters located in downtown St. Louis. And this was about twice the size of the two projects that were in Little Rock. This one was closed about a year and a half ago and it went through many different iterations before we finally got this thing to the finish line. This is a project that we worked on. I’m actually part of this group. And we worked on this deal, I think for four years prior to getting this one closed. It’s a large building, it’s 250,000 plus square feet. It was going to be a dual-brand Hilton project.

Cam Deacon: (08:22)

And then like I said, they’re, these deals are very complicated and they’re hard to work through. And, St. Louis is a pretty unique city and it’s a union town and so dealing with things from that perspective, but that was kind of our big kind of crown jewel to date was the shell building. And I was just happy that I could be a part of the development group on that one as well. So the owners are actually located out of Chicago. So we have Chicago, one recently moved to Alaska and I’m the only one left in the south. So Alaska, yeah.

Cam Deacon: (09:00)

It’s a pretty neat deal. I mean, we like working on these complicated deals. We like to be able to bring a lot of value to the transaction. I don’t really consider ourselves just a, Hey send us a deal. We’ll go out and get you some terms. And then we’ll compare those terms. And obviously, we wanna find all of our borrowers the best deals. I do think that we bring a lot of value almost from a capital stack consulting standpoint so we’re able to kinda walk through and help with a more complicated trend as actions direct where we think sometimes a project needs to go, yeah, maybe doesn’t need additional owner equity. If not, is there some sort of unique structure that we can utilize, or maybe we could bring in a pace financing component, just things like that. We try to really think outside the box not, we don’t want the transaction to be overly complicated, obviously mean that causes a lot of seem when there are some headaches, but yeah, I mean, it’s, we like to bring more value than just, Hey, a rate and a term, and then here you go,

Luis Delgado: (10:11)

Right, man, you definitely take your time with it and try to find the best solution for both sides. One question that comes to mind, is that, do you, do you remember the first few closes and how you felt?

Cam Deacon: (10:33)

Oh gosh, the first deal that I closed from on the broker side.

Luis Delgado: (10:36)

Yeah. Broker.

Cam Deacon: (10:37)

Yeah, absolutely. I remember the first deal. It was shocking. I know that it was a hotel but it was a hotel located in Northwest Arkansas in Bentonville and it was about half a mile away from the Walmart world headquarters. And it was actually for the same group in Chicago that the shared building they have about four points up there. And it was about a 10.2 million transaction. And the bank that they were with was Hey, it’s a local bank. They had a good relationship with the local bank, but they were paying what I considered a lot at the time. They were paying a real interest rate on the deal. And the owner I consider him a really good friend of mine. Yep. And I just went to him and I said, Hey I, I know what this is here.

Cam Deacon: (11:29)

I think there’s an opportunity to refinance this project and really save a substantial amount of money. And so we got it done. And we got it done and year one interest savings alone, or 1.2 million. So it was a huge difference in what they were coming outta pocket strictly just an interest, and I mean, I understand relationships are very important. I would say that as much as anyone, I think there comes a point though, where you have to really look at the relationship versus I mean a million dollars that’s real money. Okay, great. You’re either sending that to your lender or you’re putting that in your pocket as an owner. And so yeah, like while I never like to take anything from a relationship that was just one where it really made sense. So yeah, that was the first one. And that was like I said, about 10 years ago. So I was really proud of that transaction, especially considering this size 10 million for the first project that we had ever done.

Luis Delgado: (12:40)

It sounds like that propelled you forward and motivated you to keep going.

Cam Deacon: (12:44)

No, yeah, it really did. And it honestly opened a lot of doors. I mean, this friend of mine he’s an Indian and the Indian community is very close. They have very big families and they really lean on each other for referrals and advice and help and things like that. And so when we did that deal, he basically introduced me to his entire family, and the majority of them were hotel owners. We closed one not long after that with his brother-in-law that hotel year in San Antonio. We closed the deal in Frisco, Texas with a cousin of his. So it’s been a fun journey.

Luis Delgado: (13:27)

I love it. I love it. Just two final questions. And you can answer this one, maybe like you two words or even census, but what do you love most about commercial real estate?

Cam Deacon: (13:39)

Oh man. The ability to be creative. No two deals are the same by any means. And there, there are so many different levers that you can pull and change and you can tweak this to change this a little bit. And I just, I love the fact that we can go in and really look at a deal from a high level of what I call a 30,000 foot view. And then we can kind of look at the transaction as a whole and, and try to change one or two things to make it fit for this lender or if there’s some, some wiggle room to change it. I just like flexibility, honestly, flexibility and creativity.

Luis Delgado: (14:22)

Love it. Hey, Cam, where can people find you?

Cam Deacon: (14:26)

Yeah, so our website is just Deacon Capital or, I mean, honestly my cell phone, I’m giving out my cell number. I mean, I’m always available. It’s (501) 554-4189. Also on LinkedIn it’s just Cam Deacon, so yeah. Okay. I’m available in different places.

Luis Delgado: (14:48)

Great. Well, cam thanks for presenting to us today, appreciate your time and your sharing about your life and business. If anyone ‘s listening or viewing, if you’re interested in speaking with Cam, don’t hesitate to contact him directly, or if you want to speak to me between episodes, feel free to email me at If you’re interested in learning more about RA and or the broker podcast series, please visit our and see everyone on the next episode.

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