Real Estate Brokers Team For Growth

September 12, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — A merger completed in May is already providing synergies for Francis Realty Co. and Prime Development Co.

The two long-time commercial real estate brokerages had an established relationship and had been talking about merging for some time, said Lynn Francis, CPM, founder of Francis Realty Co.

“Plus, we’re all very compatible individuals. We felt that we all could be more successful in being together in one place. And they did have office space available, which was convenient for us.”

All Francis Realty’s sales and leasing activity now operates under the name Prime Development, so both Lynn and his son, John Francis, now serve as brokers with the company.

Meanwhile, Francis Realty Co. is strictly a property management company and a separate entity under John Francis’ management. According to the company, it has 16 properties under management in the Grand Rapids area at this time.

Merging its brokerage business with Prime has added some synergy to Francis Realty operations, including improved technology, broader advertising and expanded market reach, Lynn Francis said.

“We’ve completed six transactions in the last four months through referring business back to one another and brokerage-wide. They’ve already referred us for two property management jobs.”

Lynn Francis has 30 years of experience in the business as both a developer and property manager.

Among the southeast area office buildings he has developed and currently manages are:

695 Kenmoor Drive SE
;
1188 East Paris Ave. SE
;
4081 Cascade Road SE
; and the new Hilltop building at
4940 Cascade Road SE
. His residential development properties include student housing at GrandValleyStateUniversity in Allendale, LakeMitchell condominiums in Cadillac, and the new Beach Tree Lodge on GlenLake

John Francis has been in the business 10 years and is currently managing office buildings at 5150 and

5136 Cascade Road
, 1540 and
1550 Leonard St. NE
, and the ChampionFitnessCenter in Rockford, among others.

Members of both firms knew each other personally through BOMA and other real estate forums, added Eric Trierweiler, an associate broker partner with Prime Development.

“They came to us because we have the marketing support brokers are looking for, which is obviously a lot more important today than it ever has been,” Trierweiler said.

“The merger has created a little bit of synergy for us because they brought their portfolio and their clients to our company, so we obviously have more listings and more market presence and a little larger market share.”

In bringing their property management skills to Prime Development, Lynn and John Francis also have brought a different facet of the business, Trierweiler said, giving existing Prime Development clients and customers the option of property management services should they wish to take advantage of them.

He estimates Prime Development currently has 75 to 100 properties and listings in the West Michigan market.

Trierweiler hired on in 1998 and is known in the commercial real estate community as a site selection specialist. He and his wife also own several Grand Rapids-based businesses.

Among the three others making up the newly merged Prime team are James DeYoung, Prime Development’s founder, who has served commercial real estate clients locally since 1975. He owns and leases a variety of commercial properties and has developed and sold condominium developments in the Grand Rapids market.

Marcel Burgler, an associate broker partner at Prime Development, began investing in office buildings in West Michigan during his career as owner of an advertising agency. He joined Prime Development in 1998 and has since developed both office and retail properties locally.

Mark Baker, also an associate broker partner, joined Prime Development in 2002 with 20 years of commercial real estate experience behind him. His background includes property management of income properties, mortgage lending and commercial real estate brokerage.

Trierweiler expects the merger will expand the company’s market over time.

“We’ve been putting ourselves in a position to grow, and we’re still seeking a couple more brokers like Lynn and John. We’re ready to take on a little bit more growth and keep enhancing our company.”    

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