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Donald Tabor – Fresh Perspectives: CBRE's Emerging Leaders

17 May 2022 3 Minute Read

Halifax skyline and waterfront

No one is more excited about Halifax’s growth than CBRE’s Donald Tabor. A native Haligonian –he grew up just across the harbour in Dartmouth –he has watched the city flourish in recent years and is now helping to shape its future.

As a Sales Representative, Tabor specializes in landlord and tenant representation for office and retail properties. Being able to have an impact on the community he calls home is his greatest inspiration.

A St. Francis Xavier University grad, Tabor joined CBRE in 2016 as a Research Analyst. He transitioned into sales in 2017 but attributes his current success to the knowledge gained and connections forged during that first year.

Contagiously kind, he is the epitome of a friendly Maritimer. Whether you’re a client, fellow broker, or someone looking to get their start in the industry, Tabor will welcome you with a smile.

We spoke to him about the best career advice he’s received, the challenges facing young people in commercial real estate, and why the future is bright for Halifax.

What is the best advice you’ve received since you started your career in commercial real estate?

To try and stay even keeled. It’s something I try to remind myself of most days. There are ups and downs in the industry, and you just need to keep working and putting the effort in.

Can you talk about a mentor you’ve had and how they helped you?

The person who has had the most impact on me would be Mat Houston. He’s my colleague and partner on the landlord representation team here in Halifax.

Being able to go to him with questions and ideas and learning from his experiences has helped my success as an agent in this market. I think the level of communication and the trust between us has helped to grow our business as well.

What deal have you been most proud of and why?

A spot called Bliss Caffeine Bar. It was started by two young entrepreneurs, Michelle and Jenna, and they opened last spring. Watching them take the space and make it their own was really inspiring. They found a gap in the market and offer a high-quality product, and now they’re seeing a lot of success. It’s packed all the time. All my friends go there. It’s like my little mark on South Park Street.

How is your perspective unique and helpful to clients?

I have a fresh take on the industry. I try to think creatively when I’m putting deals together. It’s about listening to your client’s needs and who they are.

As I’ve gained more experience in this industry, I’ve gained insight on specific landlords and how they like to operate. That helps me advise tenants on a building-specific basis rather than just telling them what’s going on in the market in general.

What excites you most about the future of commercial real estate in Halifax?

The amount of growth in Halifax is exciting. There are so many opportunities and there’s so much activity. Being a part of that is inspiring. The future is extremely bright.

On the retail side, we have great local businesses and operators. Our food and beverage scene is amazing. On the office side, there are big opportunities for out-of-market tenants to set up a regional shop and grow their business. There’s access to talent from all the major universities here. The quality of life here is great. People are noticing. I don’t see this momentum slowing down.

What are the biggest challenges facing young people looking to get started in commercial real estate?

I think it’s probably true of any industry, but you have to prove that you can deliver and that you’ve earned your spot. You have to show up and work hard. Eventually you gain respect and make a name for yourself.

Donald Tabor quote card

How do you support other young people in this business?

It’s important to get together and talk shop and share your experiences and what’s worked for you. It’s important to establish friendships and trust with everyone, even people at other firms. I think that’s how we can support each other, by building relationships.

Do you have some tips for others who are just starting their CRE career?

Ask lots of questions. Talk to people who deal with different types of real estate transactions. Learn about what they’re seeing in their specialty and figure out where you might fit into the fold.

I’d recommend starting your CRE career in research. It’s a great opportunity to get a grasp on market fundamentals and grow relationships with brokers and landlords. It gave me a good foundation and has helped my career a lot.

Also, check in with yourself a lot. Sit back and examine what has been working and what hasn’t, and then double down on the things that are going well.