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National backing for Cushman & Wakefield|Commerce

Tim Reid and LeAnn Hume joined their commercial real estate offices into a modest operation in 2012. Now they have the resources of national powerhouse NorthMarq behind them. Photo by Teya Vitu

Tim Reid and LeAnn Hume joined their commercial real estate offices into a modest operation in 2012. Now they have the resources of national powerhouse NorthMarq behind them. Photo by Teya Vitu

The signage, letterhead and business cards read Cushman & Wakefield|Commerce, just as they have for nearly three years. Then and now, LeAnn Hume and Tim Reid have led the show at the Boise commercial real estate office. They have a staff of 23, just a few more than the 20 they had when they joined forces on Jan. 1, 2012.

But the signage, letterhead and business cards could read NorthMarq.

Since 2012, Hume and Reid have transformed their Boise operation from a small local shop to a regional player through NorthMarq, which acquired Cushman & Wakefield|Commerce late last year.

“Last year, we could handle any single building asset in town,” Reid said. “Now we can make a proposal to Micron to manage the whole facility.”

Bloomington, Minn.-based NorthMarq Companies is the largest privately held commercial real estate financial intermediary in the U.S. with an annual production volume exceeding $10 billion. Last December 31, NorthMarq acquired the Salt Lake City-based Commerce Real Estate Solutions, more commonly known as Cushman & Wakefield|Commerce. Hume and Reid lead the Boise branch office, one of 10 that Commerce has in Utah, Idaho, Washington and Nevada.

The Cushman & Wakefield|Commerce name remains even with the shift in ownership from Salt Lake City to Minnesota.

“It was a decision we made early on,” Commerce President Mike Lawson said. “We had 40 years experience in the Salt Lake market. (NorthMarq) respected the brand.”

Mike Lawson

Mike Lawson

Commerce Real Estate Solutions was a stand-alone Utah company until it entered into an alliance with New York-based commercial real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield in 2004. Commerce remained an independently owned company with the Cushman & Wakefield name attached until the NorthMarq acquisition.

In the meantime, Cushman & Wakefield and NorthMarq Real Estate Services formed a joint venture in 2011 called Cushman & Wakefield|Northmarq. NorthMarq is a majority owner of the joint venture, and NorthMarq Companies is the joint venture’s holding company.

While that was going on in 2011, Hume with Hume Commercial Real Estate and Tim Reid with the local Grubb & Ellis Idaho Commercial Group grew restless with their independent small operations and combined their shops. They took along State Sen. Chuck Winder and his son Dave Winder, both from Leo & Associates, for an alliance that went into effect Jan. 1, 2012. They retained the Grubb & Ellis name, but just six weeks into the partnership Grubb & Ellis declared bankruptcy on Feb. 20, 2012.

“Right after the Grubb & Ellis bankruptcy, our phone rang off the hook,” Hume recalled. ”Lots of commercial brokerages wanted to talk to us. I made a proactive call to Cushman & Wakefield. They are the No. 3 brokerage in the world and I knew No. 1 and No. 2 wouldn’t come here. They connected me with the Commerce office in Salt Lake City. We had a quick romance with Commerce.”

“It was one of those unique business opportunities where it just clicked,” said Commerce President Mike Lawson. “Both of them had experience with national platforms. We were not just looking at the local market.”

Hume and Reid’s Boise operation became a Cushman & Wakefield|Commerce branch office on April 1, 2012.

With the NorthMarq aquisition, “We are truly part of a huge organization,” Hume said. “We are not on our own for anything.”

One area where Hume and Reid want to grow is property management. Commercial real estate companies typically focus on buying and selling business properties, but many are expanding into property management, lease administration and project management.

The Boise office has increased its property management portfolio from scratch since 2011, and now has about 600,000 square feet. The two would like to reach 5 million in the next three years, Reid said.

That would move Cushman & Wakefield|Commerce into the Top 3 among local commercial real estate brokerages. Property management equally intrigues Salt Lake’s Commerce, which manages 7.5 million square feet, including Boise’s properties.

“That’s where I see a huge opportunity,” Lawson said.

NorthMarq doesn’t just mean change in Boise but also Salt Lake City, where the Commerce home office can evolve beyond a major regional player, Lawson said.

“This allows us to go after national and international clients we have not been able to,” Lawson said. “This gives us expertise and a structure that goes a lot deeper than we had before. We have a much more diverse pool of clients we can pursue business with.”

That filters down to Boise.

“NorthMarq will research for companies we want to go after,” Hume said. “They will give us a strategy on how to go after them. They will come out and help us pitch a business.”

Lawson said: “Tim and LeAnn are great at the local level. Once they go out of state, they are severely challenged. That’s where NorthMarq comes into play.”

Hume and Reid can now approach companies that have a multi-location presence, like JR Simplot, Albertson’s Inc., Micron Technology, Hewlett-Packard and Trinity Health (the parent company of Saint Alphonsus Health Center) and offer company-wide property management or lease administration services.

They can also scout new locations in Idaho and other states for eateries such as Noodles & Company and Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburger. Hume sees lease administration and project management for national chains in the Boise’s office future.

With a greater world now at Cushman & Wakefield|Commerce’s fingertips, what does that mean for Boise people looking to buy or sell or lease commercial real estate?

“That doesn’t mean we won’t go after one-off local clients,” Lawson said.

About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.