Wisinski Grows With Merger

June 15, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — S.J. Wisinski & Co. has joined forces with two West Michigan retail-oriented firms to create The Wisinski Group.

The principal staff of Walker-based Retail Development Group and CascadeTownship's Edmark Development Co. will assume new roles at The Wisinski Group. Aaron Young, a former broker at S.J. Wisinski and currently founder and managing partner of RDG, has been named president and COO of The Wisinski Group. Company founder and current president Stanley J. Wisinski III will assume the title of chairman. Edmark founder Mark Finkelstein has been named director of retail services.

Already one of the largest commercial real estate firms in West Michigan, the addition will allow S.J. Wisinski to immediately expand in the retail segment, historically a smaller part of its practice.

"We're not taking our focus off things we've already done," said Wisinski. "But we are going to see a strong impact in the retail area, and that will also add growth in the property management division."

Young will assume day-to-day operations of the company. Wisinski will turn his focus to business development and will become more involved in transactions.

Shopping centers and big-box development have been the focus of both Retail Development Group and Edmark Development Co., as brokers and developers. The two companies will continue to operate as development companies in the same manner as Third Coast Development LLC and Virgin Soil, the development companies of S.J. Wisinski brokers Brad Rosely and Brice Bossardet, respectively. Their primary focus going forward will be development opportunities outside of Michigan

Although both companies will exist as separate entities, all activities will consolidate into the current S.J. Wisinski headquarters at

2618 East Paris Ave. SE
. An RDG subsidiary, U.S. Retail Inc., an operator of Pet Supplies Plus franchises in Texas, Alabama and Wisconsin, will be run by Steve Adams, current MDG president.

While it will initially be focused on the Michigan area, The Wisinski Group will eventually leverage the larger footprint of the two development firms to establish a national presence, Wisinski said. There are no plans to establish an affiliation with a national brokerage house.

"We don't have to be a national affiliate to work with national tenants," said Young. "Mark and I have done Wal-Mart deals, Target deals, Costco deals — every kind of big-box deal. Coming together on this platform that Stan has built will make us more effective."

Young added that he and Finkelstein, whose family founded the MC Sports chain, both have a perspective as operators that most brokers and developers do not share.

The Wisinski Group will be split into small, character-driven teams. There are also plans for a significant investment in proprietary technology.

"Our firm is going to be relationship driven, not transaction oriented," Young said. "We're not going to focus on how many listings we have. We're going to focus on quality."

Chad Bush, currently managing partner of RDG and sister company Main Street Capital Group, will launch The Wisinski Group's new investment services program, an expanded investment property marketing and management service.

James Badaluco, current S.J. Wisinkski & Co. senior vice president, will retain that role within the new company. Longtime industrial specialist Stu Kingma has been appointed to the newly created position of senior director of industrial services. The two will lead an expanded industrial division.

The deal comes on the heels of a string of mergers in the commercial real estate sector since 2005, including the transactions that created Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce, NAI West Michigan, Signature Associates-ONCOR International and Sperry Van Ness/Silveri Co.    

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