Sandra McGlothlin saw a need and built an Empire

Sandra McGlothlin (Photo courtesy Empire Holdings)

Sandra Sedillo McGlothlin’s eye-catching statement on her LinkedIn page says it all about this successful businesswoman: “Building A New Empire.”

For four decades, McGlothlin and her ex-husband, Ronnie McGlothlin, ran a commercial/industrial roofing company, which they created at their kitchen table and grew into a multimillion-dollar enterprise and the largest commercial roofing company in the southern United States.

They eventually parlayed their success into an even bigger operation with the establishment of Empire Disposal, a waste-hauling business serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Managing these two companies, Sandra McGlothlin grew frustrated with the lack of suitable industrial space to accommodate their growing needs. So, McGlothlin began ”dabbling in real estate on the side.”

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It wasn’t long before that side hustle turned into a tour de force in the commercial real estate world. In 1991, McGlothlin founded Empire Texas Equities Ltd., a commercial real estate investment, management and development company.

By 2020, Empire Texas Equities owned and managed more than 80 properties across Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and Georgia, including industrial, office and retail spaces.

Empire Texas Equities’ crowning achievement is Sun Valley Industrial Park, a 24.2-acre upscale industrial park development in southeast Fort Worth that is home to the Texas Department of Transportation as well as major national firms such as UPS, Sunbelt Rentals, O’Neal Industries, Stanley Steamer and Dish Network. It is a city-designated Industrial Growth Center due to high job growth.

More than a decade in the making, the Sun Valley development represents accomplishment of McGlothlin’s goal to build a higher quality and more industrial business-suitable space for users like Empire Roofing and Empire Disposal.

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“We were forced to adapt our business to an existing space rather than adapt a space to our business,” she recalled. “It was not an ideal situation.”

McGlothlin recognized that there were probably many other business owners with similar needs for outdoor storage, extra dock space or oversized doors that standard industrial buildings don’t offer.

As a result, she stepped away from the other Empire businesses she built with her ex-husband and embarked on her own business venture, Empire Holdings, a commercial real estate development company specializing in high-end, custom-built industrial properties with design, technology and innovation at the forefront.

The new real estate venture incorporated the property holdings of Empire Texas Equities, including Sun Valley Industrial Park.

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As CEO of Empire Holdings, McGlothlin assembled a team that includes Bowie Holland, who brought more than 18 years experience in commercial construction and real estate development as president; and Trenton Laird, founder of The Construction Group, as construction partner.

Meanwhile, a year ago, Empire Roofing was acquired by Tecta America Corp., a national leader in commercial and industrial roofing. Ronnie McGlothlin, Matt Kelley and other employees stayed on with the new ownership.

Empire Disposal was sold to a new owner in 2020.

Empire Holdings’ portfolio has included more than 100 properties across several states, but primarily in Texas.

In September, the company, with assistance from Stream Realty and Stan Johnson Co., sold a nine-building, nearly 350,000-square-foot single-tenant portfolio with assets in five states to the Philadelphia-based Arden Group.

Prior to that, Empire Holdings completed a $58 million sale involving 18 of their industrial properties. It was considered one of the top industrial deals in 2021 by the commercial real estate industry.

As a result, most of Empire Holdings’ properties are located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, McGlothlin said.

“There is a lot of interest in what we do in the DFW area,” she said. “Besides, we have a home-field advantage.”

Empire Holdings’ Sun Valley Industrial Park continues to be a major focus for the company. The industrial park features single-tenant industrial buildings, ranging from 5,000 to 30,000 square feet.

The buildings each offer a mix of Class A office level space with high-end details and finishes as well as industrial space. Office space features include floor-to-ceiling windows, LED lighting, smartphone-powered access, conference space and private offices.

The industrial spaces include column-less warehouses, oversized automatic overhead doors, heavy-coated flooring, offsite storm-water storage, fenced concrete yards and private security.

“When you walk into one of our buildings, you just feel the difference,” McGlothlin said.

The buildings are constructed to be move-in ready but tenants can also choose to further customize the space to their needs or build from the ground up.

“Whether it’s a small design tweak or a full custom build-to-suit, we really strive to know our tenants’ business and then determine how their facility can complement every aspect of their business operations and allow for future growth,” Holland said.

McGlothlin has long been a generous supporter of civic and community causes and organizations, so Empire Holdings recently donated a nearly 7,500-square-foot building to the Fort Worth Police Department to be used as a substation for the east side of Fort Worth.

Among McGlothlin’s admirers is Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker.

“Sandra and the Empire Holdings team are laser-focused on developing properties with updated infrastructure and design elements that elevate our community and attract the large employers we want to bring to Fort Worth,” Parker said in a statement. “We are fortunate they are investing so much in the Fort Worth community and we are certain they’ll bring the same bottom-line impact to the other cities in which they operate and build.”