Longtime Fort Worth business owner and entrepreneur Sandra McGlothlin is embarking on a new venture, Empire Holdings, a commercial real estate development company specializing in single-tenant, build-to-suit industrial properties with design, technology and innovation features. 

McGlothlin has assembled a leadership team for Empire Holdings, with 15-year development pro Bowie Holland serving as president, and Trenton Laird, founder of The Construction Group, serving as its construction partner. Empire Holdings already has acquired and developed more than 100 properties across five states, with a primary focus on Texas.

McGlothlin had previously co-founded Empire Roofing and Empire Disposal. She sold Empire Roofing in June 2021, then founded Empire Holdings about six months ago. 

“I wanted to stay busy, and I’ve been doing real estate, industrial real estate, around here for 30 years plus,” she said. “This is just just taking it to a higher level.” 

Sandra McGlothlin standing in front of one of the firm’s industrial spaces. (Photo courtesy of Empire Holdings)

Her experience with not finding the type of industrial space she needed for her previous businesses led her to focus on this build-to-suit industrial speciality. 

“Throughout my career, I became increasingly frustrated with what I could find – and not find – in the way of industrial space on the market. They all lacked the design, flexibility, technology, and infrastructure I needed to unleash the full potential of my businesses,” said McGlothlin, founder and CEO of Empire Holdings. “Our mission is to change the way industrial spaces are built – with a user-focused design that takes our clients’ facility needs and turns them into a strategic business advantage.”

Empire Holdings founded Sun Valley Industrial Park in southeast Fort Worth, a 24.2-acre first-class industrial business center that’s created more than 1,000 jobs and is home to national companies such as UPS, Sunbelt Rentals, TxDOT, Stanley Steamer, and Dish Network. It has been designated an “industrial growth center” in the city of Fort Worth’s long-term strategic plan. The area is also where her previous company, Empire Roofing, was located. 

“This has been just a good little spot,” she said. “It was great for us because you can easily  access (interstates) 30, 20 and Loop 820. We could pretty much get anywhere,” she said. 

Solely developed by Empire Holdings, the Sun Valley Industrial Park features single-tenant industrial buildings ranging from 5,000 to 30,000 square feet. 

“We settled on a sweet spot in the 12,000- to 17,000-square-foot size. That seems to be in highest demand,” said Holland. 

Each building offers modern amenities of Class-A office space, such as floor-to-ceiling glass windows, solid core doors, 100% LED lighting, smartphone-powered access, large quiet fans and both private and communal office space, as well as sought-after industrial features, such as columnless clear span warehouses, oversized automatic overhead doors, heavy power, coated flooring, offsite stormwater storage, large fenced concrete yards, and private security. 

“We’re not just that box that you have to come in and figure it out inside,” said McGlothlin. “We’re not the big box. It’s a smaller building, 20% office, 80% warehouse, and then yard space that has concrete and fenced, clean and neat.” 

While the buildings were constructed to be move-in ready, most Sun Valley tenants chose to further customize their buildings, tailoring the spaces to support their business operations. These user-focused design elements, growth infrastructure, best-in-class technologies, and tenant-specific customization are what differentiate Empire Holdings from other industrial real estate developers, according to the company. 

“Our tenants are everything, and we know each of them is unique with their own needs,” said Holland. “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.”

Trenton Laird, managing member of The Construction Group, the organization that heads up construction for Empire Holding, said amenities are one of the keys to the success of these style industrial offerings. 

“Everything’s on camera, and it is really energy efficient, which we are really proud of,” he said. “And that passes directly through the end user, since they’re responsible for their own utility bills,” he said. 

Holland said a typical customer has some manufacturing or warehouse operations in the back of the building and an office in front with plenty of amenities. 

Next up for the firm is another development called Campus Industrial Park, at Interstate 20 and Campus Drive in south Fort Worth, near the site of a former Sam’s Club. The park will feature 151,000 square feet of flex industrial space across five buildings. Groundbreaking on the site is expected in January. 

The overall industrial market in Dallas-Fort Worth remains strong. According to a recent report from Transwestern, demand for new construction of industrial space has rebounded to tie its previous all-time high.

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Bob Francis

Bob Francis is business editor for fortworthreport.org. He has been covering business news locally and nationally for many years. He can be reached at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org