Despite recession, Encore grows

May 18, 2009
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It’s been a busy few months for Encore.

The local commercial real estate firm has doubled its size, expanded its brokerage services, increased its downtown office space, opened a lakeshore office and added a distressed property management division.

And Encore Principals Jay Barnes, Tom Pohlman and David Ederer are expecting more growth for the firm this year, as they recently formed a new entity, Encore Market Reality Advisors. Encore MRA will focus the company’s growth efforts on commercial brokerage by using a more local approach.

“A ‘so-called’ national firm may offer a structure designed to work in places like Phoenix and Indianapolis, but this approach fails to factor in the vast differences between West Michigan and markets such as those,” said Barnes.

“As a result, much of the energy used by those firms to service a client is wasted in areas that don’t apply to the assignment. Our approach works for any client, anywhere,” he added.

Pohlman said Encore MRA uses the industry’s most sophisticated software and tools to allow the firm to market its clients on both local and national levels.

“We make it our business to provide each and every client with personalized, informed real estate solutions so their focus can remain on their core business. Every client, every project gets a tailored approach to meet their needs,” said Pohlman.

Ederer pointed out that the other part of a successful formula is a firm must have the right people on its staff, and he felt Encore has reached that goal with its recent hiring of nine new individuals.

“We know how vital it is to put together the right team to serve our clients and have taken the time to hand select a small group of the best commercial real estate advisors in the area that have the confidence to handle any assignment,” he said.

Julie Borhmann, Bill Casey, Heidi Cook, Chad Lahey, Steve Millman, Trish Depriest, Tim Platt, Kurt Suidinski and Steve Wilson are the new hires. And Wilson is managing Encore’s new lakeshore office at 15 S. Second St. in Grand Haven, which recently was chosen by Ramco Gershenson Properties Trust to represent the firm’s West Michigan portfolio.

Based in Farmington Hills, Ramco Gershenson owns and manages 35 retail properties in Michigan with over 6.6 million square feet. Its holdings in West Michigan are Beacon Square in Grand Haven, the Kentwood Town Centre in Kentwood, the Lakeshore Marketplace in Norton Shores and Gaines Marketplace in Gaines Township. Encore MRA will handle the leasing with Platt and Casey directing that activity.

“They own and operate some of the best shopping centers in the area and we look forward to assisting them in keeping the centers occupied with quality tenants,” said Casey.

Encore recently expanded its downtown Grand Rapids office. The company bought the building at 300 Ionia Ave. SW in 2006 and occupied 7,000 of its 14,000 square feet when it moved in. But in January, Encore finished renovations and now occupies the entire building.

Last month, Encore established a new division to manage properties that are in distress, receivership or foreclosure. Delinquent commercial loans rose by 43 percent across the country during the first quarter of this year to $65.9 billion, according to data from New York-based Real Capital Analytics.

“The key to maintaining the integrity of an asset in distress is to understand how to properly manage the real estate in a way that promotes stability while maximizing value,” said Barnes.

“Often times important management issues are overlooked during traditional phases of property distress. This is a losing proposition for the property owner, the lender and the tenant,” said Pohlman.

Encore went ahead with all the changes despite the recession.

“In this economic climate, it is imperative that companies and individual real estate investors alike surround themselves with a team of savvy professionals who can provide the best opportunity to succeed in any facet of real estate,” said Barnes. “This is what we do.”

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