Growing up in a small town like Casa Grande gave Greg Coxon a strong sense of community.
“Everybody knew everybody, and we all went out of our way to help each other,” said the 51-year-old commercial real estate broker. “We were the ‘Mayberry’ Township of Arizona.”
Casa Grande, back then, had a population of about 7,000.
Today, the 48-square mile city in Pinal County has more than 25,000 residents and, like most Valley communities, it’s still growing.
“I’m trying to use the human values we learned as kids in Casa Grande in my dealings today with clients, employees and just about everybody and everything else,” said Coxon, whose Casa Grande family goes back three generations.
The community that is surrounded by three Indian reservations — Gila River, Papago and the Maricopa Ak Chin — during Coxon’s childhood was also encircled by vast desert landscapes — and occasional coyotes.
Not much more.
Today, the surrounding landscape is dotted with residential and commercial developments — typical of the growth throughout the Valley and the state.
Coxon — and his company, the CB Richard Ellis., the state’s largest commercial real estate brokerage firm — is playing a major role in this economic, geographic, cultural and social phenomenon.
As senior managing director, Coxon’s office daily handles an estimated $1 billion worth of commercial properties throughout Arizona.
He works and directs from the Phoenix office at 2415 E. Camelback Road.
“A lot has changed since those early days as a kid back in Casa Grande,” said Coxon, who lives with his wife, Kim and two children, Grant, 22 and Danielle, 19, in Ahwatukee Foothills.
Coxon recently was honored with the Chairman’s Excellence Award, which has been given only three times in the firm’s 100-year history.
“I don’t know anyone more deserving of this award than Greg Coxon,” said Bill Chillingworth, president of CBRE’s western division in Los Angeles.
CBRE has 300 offices in the United States, including the two in Arizona, and in more than 50 countries. Daily it handles several billion dollars worth of commercial real estate, including sales, management, maintenance and development of office buildings, shopping centers and large tracts of land.
Coxon, a graduate of the University of Arizona, began his real estate career in 1980. He joined CBRE in 1987 and became manager of the Tucson office, several offices in Seattle and, in 1999, he was named senior management director of the Phoenix office.
His interest in real estate, especially construction, is traced back to his early days in Casa Grande where his late father Quentin Coxon, opened a home improvement store. The store remains there today and is owned and operated by his brother, Brad Coxon.
“I worked in my dad’s store as a boy, then later, he bought a lumber yard and I got to meet contractors and builders,” Coxon said. “It got me interest in the real estate building industry.”
Coxon foresees unlimited growth in commercial development throughout the Valley and state in the coming years.
“We’re attracting both young and older people,” said Coxon. “Many of the younger folks are in the high tech industry, and that means more commercial buildings will be built.
“In addition, everybody needs a place to live, so more residential clusters will continue to spread.”
He said the East Valley is particularly attractive to new residents and commercial development. As the population grows, it also will require more schools.
Has he ever been asked to stop adding buildings to the desert - to keep it clear and uncluttered?
“Yes, I’ve had to address this question many times and this is my answer: Sure, I would prefer to have more miles of clear desert. Unfortunately, that is not a realistic approach to life.
“Time changes everything. People come to Arizona and they need jobs and housing. It would be selfish for us to try to keep people away just so we could enjoy the desert ourselves.”
Coxon is active in the business community, including the National Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives , the International Council of Shopping Centers , the National Industrial and Office Properties and Valley Partnership.
He is also on the advisory board of the University of Arizona’s Eller Business School and represents the firm on the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
When he’s not coordinating the more than 300 employees, Coxon enjoys visiting friends and relatives in Casa Grande and hiking in the nearby desert. “But I’ve got to get many miles away from town before I can just see the desert and no man-made structures,” Coxon said.
As a young boy, he only had to walk about a mile or so from downtown Casa Grande before he could see an unobstructed view of the desert.
“Yes, the desert is being erased,” Coxon said. “There are things that were. And there are things to be.”
Family: Wife, Kim; children, Danielle, 19 and Grant, 22
Resides in: Ahwatukee Foothills
Business: Senior managing director of CB Richard Ellis, one of the largest and oldest commercial brokerage firms in Arizona, nationally and internationally
Key achievement:Recognized as CBRE’s top manager nationwide and awarded the Chairman’s Excellence Award
Success philosophy: Hard work, honesty, integrity and, most important of all, caring about people.
Information: (602) 735-5555 or www.cbre.com/phoenix