Constructing the Building Blocks of Leadership

Brad Simma shares how he manages office, industrial, and multifamily construction and development projects for Kansas City, MO-based Block Construction Services, LLC. Simma, who has a degree in construction engineering, joined Block in 2003 after working in engineering field for three years

What do your current role and practices for Block look like?

I am vice president of Block Construction Services, LLC, [a division of] parent company Block Real Estate Services. My role here is vice president of construction and development. We oversee all of the tenant-improvement work that occurs in approximately 30 million square feet of property that we lease and manage in the Kansas City metropolitan area. We also act as owners’ representatives for all development work that our firm is involved with. Those tasks include everything from site due diligence, land planning, entitlements, incentives, and coordination with all the consultants, municipalities, and utility companies to master plan and create a full development plan all the way through construction management and closeout of the projects.

How has your engineering background informed your work in construction services for Block?

On the development side, it’s helped tremendously because the three years I was working on the engineering side, we were building roads, and we were also working on a lot of other storm-water-related projects. So, from the development side, it helps tremendously because I do a lot of land planning and master planning with our civil engineers and our architects and our design professionals as we’re evaluating what we can do with a piece of ground.

Brad Simma, VP
Brad Simma, VP

What did you come in knowing about the job?

I knew very little. What I did know was the name of the firm and the amount of property that they had in the city. I knew that they’d been around a long time and their reputation was good. I was unsure about how a construction position fit in with a real estate company. That’s where I was probably most concerned because I was just unsure about how that fit would happen.

What did you have to learn as you hit the ground running?

Coming from the contracting world—in terms of education—and the engineering world, it was really learning the real estate side—learning terminology and interpreting lease language and things of that nature. It was really learning the real estate world as a whole: how brokerage worked, how property management worked, how tenant finish flowed, and how it needed to be constructed. In 2010, I did receive my [certified commercial investment manager] designation. You take real estate and financial analysis classes, which conclude with a comprehensive test. It’s kind of a real estate master’s degree, so to speak, to help me understand more of the financial analysis that goes into real estate development, real estate underwriting, and things of that nature.

Do you have or are you interested in getting your real estate license as well?

I definitely have an interest in trying to pursue a real estate license over the next couple of years.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job, and why?

What I enjoy the most is just the diversity of the different product types that we develop and the interaction with all the different people involved in the projects, between municipalities and architects, engineers, contractors, lenders, and all the design consultants.