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  • | 3:15 p.m. July 26, 2013
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Does a national commercial real estate flag matter?

Two successful commercial real estate brokers with combined decades of experience plan to test that idea as they launch a new firm in Fort Myers called Trans Commercial Real Estate Services.

When they were planning their new venture, Victor Harris and Charles Jans questioned whether they should join a national real estate firm with a recognizable flag.

For years, this was the way many commercial real estate brokers expanded their horizons because those national affiliations brought them business from outside the area. National commercial real estate brokerage firms include CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield and Grubb & Ellis and brokers who joined their network pay them for business referrals.

“Before the Internet, there was value to being affiliated with national firms,” says Jans. “We didn't think that was important anymore. What matters is the people you're doing business with.” Much of the leasing data that used to be proprietary is now available via the Internet, he says.

Another firm in Fort Myers, CRE Consultants, split from its affiliation with CBRE last year. That firm, which now includes former CBRE executive Ray Sandelli, has been successful landing new clients, including most recently representing the landlord of University Park, one of the top office addresses in Fort Myers.

Jans, the managing broker of Trans Commercial, most recently was senior vice president at Lee and Associates in Fort Myers. Harris, managing director, led leasing and development projects for Condor Properties, a Canadian developer. Both executives have more than 30 years' experience each in the commercial real estate business.

Harris and Jans say the commercial real estate market is rebounding after years of doldrums. “We knew the timing was good for this,” Harris says. “The residential market really started to take off in the second half of 2010,” Harris says. “Commercial now has to start catching up.”

What's more, the growth projections for the Fort Myers-Naples area are good because there's available land, road capacity and an airport with room for more traffic. “The pie itself will get bigger,” says Harris. “I didn't see that happening in other places.”

High-profile corporate relocations to Lee County such as the recent car-rental giant Hertz will help put the area on the map for future growth, too. “You don't have to tell anyone where Fort Myers is,” Harris says.

Harris and Jans will take a two-pronged approach to their new venture. In the Fort Myers-Naples area, they plan to represent landlords for top-quality buildings. But their tenant and investor representation will be national and international.

In particular, Harris and Jans plan to capitalize on connections with business executives they know who vacation or spend part of the year in Southwest Florida. “The tether line starts here,” Jans says. “We follow that rope to the other end.”

For example, current or retired corporate executives who spend part of the year here may hire Trans Commercial to invest in properties in other parts of the country. “We could go anywhere,” Harris says.


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