Oklahoma City's Baker First Commercial Real Estate turns 25

But uncertainty surrounding the “fiscal cliff” has Rod Baker, founder of Oklahoma City's Baker First Commercial Real Estate Services, wondering about next year.
BY RICHARD MIZE richardmize@opubco.com Published: December 15, 2012

The best year that Rod Baker has ever had in 25 years in the commercial property business could end like Wile E. Coyote in midair over a canyon a few feet past a dusty desert precipice.

And over the critter's head is a big dark question mark.

Baker, and everyone else, has to be used to the cartoon antics of the economy by now: 2012, his single best year, came just three years after the single worst year for Baker First Commercial Real Estate Services, 2800 NW 36.

Such was the craziness of the 2007 credit crash, the 2008 recession, the 2009 bottom, the technical end of the recession in 2010 — and quivering lips and quavering business plans that have defined the global economic crisis ever since.

Crash ahead?

And now this: The specter of a crash at the bottom of the “fiscal cliff” — the tax increases, spending cuts and drawdown in the nation's budget deficit that will kick in automatically in 2013 if laws aren't changed by Dec. 31, the last day of Baker's best year.

It's giving capital pause, he said, even in the face of the cheapest loan money in memory.

“Some of our prospects and investors would like to see what happens, to see if there's some kind of compromise that's going to happen on a national level that'll allow us to move forward as a country, and get over that hump,” Baker said. “One way or another, some decisions need to be made. At that point in time, people will feel like there's a track the country's on that they can rely upon — whichever, whatever track that is.”

The uncertainty has Baker reluctant to look too far ahead in sizing up prospects. But December, the month he founded Baker First Commercial in 1987 — opening the doors in January 1988 — is a good time to look back.

1980s origins

“We started in humble beginnings and have grown to be a substantial management, development and brokerage company in Oklahoma City,” recalling that he started out at the bottom of the 1980s energy and real estate bust, and rode it out.

He started out bringing investors together to buy apartments. The company has long since vertically integrated — with land acquisition, development, construction, management, leasing and brokerage — in retail, office, industrial and other projects. National and regional clients have included Supercuts, Little Caesar's Pizza, AT&T, Enterprise, Edward Jones Investments, Security Self Storage and numerous financial institutions.

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