A Farewell with the President | Thor Emblem, GSH Group
Wednesday, December 20, 2023
by: Thor Emblem, GSH Group & Rachel Willis, Pacific Rim Mechanical

Section: President's Message

Today we say farewell to our loyal Chapter President, Thor Emblem! 

Thor is a respected leader in the commercial real estate (CRE) industry and is known for his expertise, professionalism, and dedication. (In fact, you can’t go far without running into someone who knows Thor or could tell you a story about the way in which he’s made an impact on their life.) He is a passionate advocate for the CRE industry and has been involved in BOMA San Diego for over a decade. Thor served as our President in 2022 and 2023 but is now officially passing on the torch. He will remain on the board to serve as our immediate Past President. 

Thank you for all you’ve done to support our chapter and its members, Thor! We’ve grown so much in the past two years, and we couldn’t have done so without your vision, leadership, and witty charm. 


BOMA San Diego: Do you have an accomplishment you’re most proud of from your time as chapter president? 

Thor: As I came into office, we were emerging from an almost two-year lockdown from the pandemic. Our membership came roaring back. The ideas were flowing, and people couldn’t wait to get involved.  My role, all along, has been to support other BOMA leaders and along with the help of the board, I feel we did great.  I am proud to be associated with and to have worked with such a dynamic group of leaders.

BOMA San Diego: What about the new committees that have formed in the past two years?  

Thor: Those committees formed with the hard work and creativity of our board members, chairs, and membership.  As you know, I was part of the formation of the Life Science Committee.  I was told recently that this would be my legacy, but my hope is that it will be the legacy of our chapter.  I am just glad to have been a part of the formation of it and the other new committees and I hope that they will be useful parts of our chapter in the future.

BOMA San Diego: What will you miss most about being on the executive committee? 

Thor: It is hard to pick just one thing, but I will certainly miss traveling to Washington, D.C., and Sacramento to meet with our elected leaders to advocate on behalf of our industry.  It is easy to forget that laws and regulations have a direct impact on our ability to conduct business. It wasn’t something that was top of mind for me until that first trip to Washington, D.C., for the BOMA winter business meetings but now I am hooked.  I am thankful that we have an opportunity to share our positions directly with those that pass these laws and regulations.  The guidance of our legislative advocate, Craig Benedetto, is invaluable.  I am always impressed by his preparation, dedication, and professionalism.  And I am thrilled by the contribution of our chapter towards the betterment of our industry.

BOMA San Diego: Two years have certainly flown by! Speaking of things that fly, how was your experience at The Seabird for our November TOBY & Membership Awards Gala? (Here are a few photos to jog your memory ...)

Thor: I want to congratulate all the nominees and winners. The gala was a success because of the efforts of Lauren Winter, Brittany Deal, Melanie Bamba-Milinkevich and the entire Special Events Committee.  And of course, I wish to thank all the sponsors.  I was really touched by Amber’s speech when presenting me with the gavel award.  And it was a lot of fun to come together to celebrate the hard work of our fellow members and to celebrate the buildings and managers that have entered the prestigious Building of the Year competition.  

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BOMA San Diego: A lot has happened since your last Q&A! What did you think of September’s Active Shooter Drill and October’s Expoland event? 

Thor: This was my first time participating in the active shooter event and I was surprised at how much it affected me.  I knew it was all fake but hearing the blanks being fired, seeing the fake blood, smelling the expended blanks, and hearing the shouts of law enforcement all served to heighten the stress level.  Thank you to the Emergency Preparedness and Sustainability Committee for putting this on and to Nicole Schuck and the Intersection team for donating their building for the drill. 

Expoland was a blast.  It was fun to see all the exhibitors in their creative costumes and to have the opportunity to learn more about what they do.  Congratulations to Emily Krogman and the Membership Committee for another successful Commercial Property Expo. 

BOMA San Diego: Another of our chapter’s October events, the Membership Luncheon, was a big success and focused on emergency preparedness and blackouts. There are many important issues facing San Diego’s CRE professionals. What’s next for the CRE industry and how can our members prepare? 

Thor: The conflicting signals from various economic indicators make it difficult to predict the future with any certainty. However, I am cautiously optimistic, and I think that is reasonable given the positive economic growth (more than 5% in Q 3 2023) and the continued tight job market. The Fed's actions on interest rates will likely be a significant factor in determining the track of the commercial real estate industry in 2024. They met this week and decided to hold interest rates steady, but they indicated that rates should be falling in 2024 and the next two days saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit all-time highs. I think the Fed is going to be doing a careful balancing act of trying to stimulate the economy without setting off rampant inflation. The only thing we can do to prepare is to monitor the economic situation closely. 

Despite the uncertainties, there are also positive trends that could support growth in our industry. The continued strength of e-commerce and the increasing demand for data centers are driving demand for industrial and warehouse space. Additionally, the life science sector is expected to remain strong as demand for research space continues to grow. Overall, we are facing some challenges in 2024 but there are also positive trends that may serve to limit economic worry.  

BOMA San Diego: Speaking of “what’s next”, if you could give one piece of advice to incoming Chapter President Melanie Bamba-Milinkevich, what would it be?

Thor: Recently, she asked me the same question and I answered that she should get herself a Melanie Bamba-Milinkevich.  Everything that has happened in our chapter has been the result of the commitment and hard work of countless volunteers but through it all, Melanie has been my right-hand person.  And I could not have done it without her.  She fills in every gap and provides strong leadership at the committee level to ensure our events are successful. The leadership committee, under the direction of Amber Molina, recently assembled the slate of the 2024 board members.  For the first time in recent memory, we had more applicants than openings. I believe the committee assembled a group of rock stars that will support Melanie in her role and continue to evolve and grow our chapter. Obviously, we cannot give her another Melanie to support her, but we can aspire to follow her example and support each other and our industry.  If we can do that, we can accomplish anything.

BOMA San Diego: Finally, before you ride off into the sunset, what’s next for Thor Emblem? 

Thor: Well, I am not going anywhere.  I will continue on the board but hope to increase committee involvement in 2024. The most gratifying work in BOMA is accomplished at the committee level.  I am leaving feeling like we, as a chapter, accomplished a lot but also with anticipation for the future.  It is with the utmost confidence that I pass the gavel to the incredibly capable Melanie Bamba Milinkevich. Melanie’s dedication and hard work over the years has sown seeds that will undoubtedly bear fruit in the months ahead. I am beyond excited to see her thrive as President and lead our beloved organization to new heights.  I just did my last in person event as BOMA San Diego President.  This is a role that I have cherished deeply, and it has meant the world to me both professionally and personally.  To the esteemed members of BOMA San Diego, the chairs, vice chairs, committee members, our BAE Audrey Doherty, our legislative advocate Craig Benedetto, and the board of directors, I extend my heartfelt gratitude. It has been an absolute honor and privilege to serve as your president. Witnessing your support, hard work and collaborative spirit has truly been an inspiration. Happy Holidays to everyone and we will see you in the new year.

While there’s still so much more that could be said, our interview is officially over. We will miss having Thor as our president but share in his sentiments that Melanie will make an amazing president and we are all very lucky to have her – there’s so much to look forward to in 2024! If you want to send Thor a note thanking him for his service, his email address is thor.emblem@gshgroup.com