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Apex Awards honor region's brokers

Realtors Land Institute awards recognize top land-focused brokers nationwide

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  • | 6:00 a.m. April 24, 2020
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MARK WEMPLE -- Eshenbaugh Land Co.'s Ryan Sampson won a pair of national awards in late March for deals in 2019.
MARK WEMPLE -- Eshenbaugh Land Co.'s Ryan Sampson won a pair of national awards in late March for deals in 2019.
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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The Realtors Land Institute (RLI) recognized a half-dozen Gulf Coast-area brokers with national awards during a “virtual” presentation late last month, the result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The group, an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors, presented its 2019 Apex Awards to Ryan Sampson of Eshenbaugh Land Co., in Tampa, for being the top producer in commercial land sales; Dean Saunders of SVN Saunders Ralston Dantzler Realty, in Lakeland, for agricultural ranch land sales; and to Marty Domres of Domres Real Estate Investments Inc. in Riverview, for residential land sales.

Sampson and Bill Eshenbaugh, the founder of Eshenbaugh Land, also won the group’s “ALC-to-ALC Networking Award,” which honors work between two Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designees, for a $12.5 million deal on behalf of the University of South Florida. The pair sold a former auto dealership on 10 acres in Tampa for the school to benefit its new $156 million Morsani College of Medicine & Heart Institute, in downtown Tampa.

In all, half of the eight 2019 top producer awards, which are sponsored by The Land Report, were given to Gulf Coast brokers.

RLI also recognized Jeff Cusson, of SVN Saunders, and Billy Rollins of LSI Cos., in Fort Myers – in addition to Sampson, Saunders, Domres and Eshenbaugh – as APEX Top Twenty National Producers for 2019, based on land sales volume.

“The Apex 2019 award winners are the crème of the crop when it comes to conducting land transactions,” says RLI CEO Aubrie Kobernus.

For Saunders, 2019 marked the second consecutive year he’s received the Apex award for ranch land sales. In 2018, the founder, managing partner and senior advisor at SVN Saunders also was named RLI’s Top National Producer nationwide, the group’s highest award.

Last year, he generated nearly $26 million in ranch sales, according to his firm, out of $49.4 million in total transactions.

“I love the work I get to do because I have a deep respect for the land,” says Saunders, an eighth-generation Floridian who has closed nearly $3 billion in total transactions since 1996.

Sampson and Eshenbaugh’s Apex awards were followed by several 2019 honors from the Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors (FGCAR) earlier in March. There, the company swept the Top Producer Land – Regional category and won “Brokerage Firm of the Year.”

Sampson, who generated $96 million in transactional volume last year, was also named FGCAR’s “Overall Top Producer” by sales volume, as well as “Top Producer Land.”

“We really try to focus on being best-in-class in Florida,” says Sampson, a firm principal who has closed more than $500 million in deals since joining Eshenbaugh Land more than a decade ago. “And though we’re based here, we also have a national perspective and reach, and we believe these awards reflect that.”

The Apex designation marked the third consecutive award for Rollins, who is the current president of RLI’s Florida chapter and has been involved with the group since 2007.



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