LandQwest Commercial has grown from a single Fort Myers office into operations in Tampa and Orlando, and more expansion is planned.
LandQwest Commercial never intended to become what it is today.
It never planned to be a full-service commercial real estate brokerage firm with services ranging from tenant representation to property management to traditional office, retail and industrial brokerage.
It also never anticipated growing from a single Fort Myers operation into a three-office firm with a presence in Tampa and Orlando.
“It really wasn't planned,” says LandQwest founding principal John Mounce. “It certainly wasn't supposed to be this.”
“This” is a firm with a staff of 50 — including 30 real estate agents — and a property management division that oversees 65 properties totaling more than 1.5 million square feet. Last year, the firm generated gross revenue of $5.4 million, an 18% jump from 2015.
Nonetheless, since its formation in April 2005, when Mounce, a former Colliers Arnold principal, teamed up with Ohio asset manager Rokki Rogan in a three-room office in Fort Myers, LandQwest has grown significantly -- both through adding new services and geography.
In what would become a re-occurring theme for LandQwest, the firm added property management and Simon Property Group executive Mary Gentile to its repertoire when clients began seeking help.
“The phone would ring and it would be a client asking for a service we didn't provide, so we'd figure out a way to oblige them,” says Rogan. “We always had the vision that we wanted to be a full-service real estate firm.”
Even during the last recession — when many other commercial real estate concerns shrank or went dark altogether — LandQwest expanded, after adding sector coverage and asset management to its menu in response to bank inquiries.
In early 2009, Mounce and Rogan tapped Coldwell Banker Commercial agent Adam Palmer to lead its nascent office division. He became a partner in 2015.
That same year, LandQwest dipped into retail real estate brokerage and management, following a raft of layoffs by real estate investment trusts. In time, the company was managing 10 million square feet of shopping centers, much of it in the Tampa area.
In 2010, it began working on industrial projects, just as plans gelled to open a Tampa office, after a former colleague of Mounce's called him to discuss opportunities with the firm.
“We were able to move pretty quickly, because of our structure, without having to float things up an infinite company ladder,” Palmer says.
The company's Orlando entrance, in 2014, came about in much the same way LandQwest's Tampa office did.
“I got a call from an old friend, someone I really respected, asking me if we wanted to open an Orlando office,” Mounce says. “So I said, well, not really, but let me call you back. I got up and walked down the hall and by the time I got there, I said 'Rokki, we're going to Orlando.”
The growth has taken its toll at times, however. LandQwest's three offices have moved a dozen times over the years. The Fort Myers' operation alone, which started in just 800 square feet and has grown to 5,500 square feet, has shifted locations five times.
And while the growing pains and layering of services has been daunting, at times, what has not changed has LandQwest's focus on maintaining a culture of integrity, where clients trump fees.
“From the beginning, we decided there was a certain way that we had to do business,” Mounce says. “And part of that involves doing a certain level of due diligence before taking on assignments.
“Part of it is how we treat people. We don't treat small clients any different from our bigger, national clients. It's very important to us that we treat everyone the same.”
James Nashman, the founding partner of ComTerra Development, based in Estero, has been a LandQwest client from the firm's beginning, and says he values the firm's honesty -- even when what he's told isn't always what he wants to hear.
“They're very good at dealing with issues and communicating about them,” he says. “Nowadays, deals are always changing, but they tell it like it is. Honesty and integrity are very important. I'd rather know the good, the bad and the ugly so I can deal with it. And with them, that springs from leadership on down.”
Going forward, LandQwest hopes to expand further geographically, by opening an office in Naples.
“Our future I think involves growing into Naples, most definitely, because it's right in our backyard, so to speak,” says Gentile.
Additionally, Rogan says LandQwest is beefing up personnel in both Tampa and Orlando, bolstering the investment sales division the firm began last year, and is considering expanding with a division devoted to land sales.
At the same time, the company plans to make further inroads in Gulf Coast industrial and office sectors, and explore opportunities in insurance, appraisal services and even tax appeals
“Despite all the growth we've had, we really don't ever want to be stagnant,” Mounce says.