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A Good Fit

Fort Myers-based LandQwest needed a CRE vet to boost its image and run its office in Tampa. Stevens Tombrink needed a new challenge. What happened next…

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  • | 6:00 a.m. June 12, 2020
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COURTESY PHOTO -- Stevens Tombrink has joined LandQwest Commercial Real Estate Services as managing director of its Tampa office.
COURTESY PHOTO -- Stevens Tombrink has joined LandQwest Commercial Real Estate Services as managing director of its Tampa office.
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            Stevens Tombrink knew he wanted to work for LandQwest Commercial Real Estate Services the first time he drove down to the commercial real estate brokerage and property management firm’s Fort Myers’ headquarters from Tampa.

            It was the signs.

            “I’m in the car, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Does LandQwest have every listing down here?’ Because it sure seemed like it from all the company’s signs I was seeing, for retail centers, office properties and industrial projects,” says Tombrink.

“I was definitely impressed. You’re not accustomed to seeing that in Tampa Bay, where no one brokerage firm dominates the market. As I got to know more about the company, though, it wasn’t surprising. They put their clients’ interests first. A lot of firms will say things like that, but they really do it.”

As LandQwest’s new managing director of its Tampa office, Tombrink will have the chance to direct the brokerage’s direction and add to the company’s number of listing signs – both through recruitment and leveraging his own wealth of contacts, developed over some three decades.

Those who know Tombrink, who has participated in deals with a transactional volume in excess of $450 million, believe his experience is ideally suited to the job.

“He’s been a fabulous market leader for a number of years,” says Patrick Kelly, regional managing partner at commercial real estate brokerage Franklin Street, who worked with Tombrink when the two were at investment firm Redstone Commercial, in Tampa.

“He’s touched on all the major asset classes and that makes him a very well-rounded leader,” Kelly adds. “And on top of that, he’s a good guy, and that comes through. When you’re recruiting, that means a lot.”

At LandQwest, a 15-year-old firm with offices in Naples and Orlando in addition to Tampa and Fort Myers, Tombrink is charged with expanding the firm’s brand throughout Tampa Bay, adding agents (the company has four in Tampa currently) and enhancing the firm’s sector coverage.

“The goal is to become a true full-service brokerage, with landlord and tenant services in retail, office, investment sales and industrial sectors,” says Tombrink, 62. “Eventually, I ‘d like to see us expand into multifamily and hospitality, too.”

Those goals won’t be easily achieved. Though LandQwest is well known in Lee and Collier counties, where it often dominates, the firm faces greater competition in the Tampa Bay region from the likes of larger and more entrenched companies like Cushman & Wakefield, Colliers International, CBRE and JLL, among others.

Not that LandQwest doesn’t have the horsepower or historical presence. The firm’s 35 agents and property managers generate in excess of $5 million in revenue annually. LandQwest’s property management arm oversees more than 2.4 million square feet of space, and the company’s Tampa office has been around for more than a decade.

LandQwest’s leaders, however, hope Tombrink’s cache will take the firm to the next level.

John Mounce, a founding LandQwest principal, notes Tombrink has been successful in growing organizations previously. And Rokki Rogan, another LandQwest founding principal, says that Tombrink possesses another important quality that sets him apart.

“He understands the intricacies of property management, and how valuable that service is for our clients,” Rogan says.

Tombrink gleaned that knowledge through years of working in commercial real estate in Tampa, and through affiliates with key industry groups like NAIOP, formerly the National Association of Office and Industrial Parks, and the International Council of Shopping Centers, of which he’s chairman next year for its Florida convention.

“What I appreciate the most about Stevens is he has a really good way with people,” says Ron Wheeler, the retired president of St. Petersburg shopping center owner Sembler Cos., who hired Tombrink in early 2009 to pursue acquisitions of distressed assets.

“He’s super positive, and he’s got a great dry sense of humor,” Wheeler adds. “And he knows the real estate business really well. I consider him to be a solid guy and a good friend to this day.”

Tombrink, a Dade City native, got his start in real estate in 1985, after graduating from Florida State University and a series of jobs in insurance and sales.

At Shannon Properties, where Tombrink worked for seven years, he leased up the Ohio company’s regional portfolio. That led, in turn, to a job directing the leasing efforts throughout the Southeast for financial services firm USAA Real Estate.

During his 11 years with the Texas-based company, Tombrink oversaw an office of five and a portfolio that topped 3.2 million square feet. When USAA decided to phase out its internal leasing team, Tombrink joined commercial real estate brokerage Grubb & Ellis in Tampa as its managing director and executive vice president, overseeing 16 agents.

From there he joined Equity Inc., another Ohio firm, which had big plans to develop in Tampa until the last decade’s economic recession took the proverbial wind from its sails.

But the crisis brought opportunity in the form of Sembler, where Tombrink spent nine years as a vice president buying retail centers that had been singed, and sometimes scorched, by the downturn.

By early 2018, there were few distressed assets to go after, though, and Tombrink left to join Kelly at Redstone Commercial as a senior vice president to focus on business development. Like USAA, though, Redstone ultimately pivoted to focus on internally generated development, leaving Tombrink without a clear direction.

Last November, LandQwest’s founders called to say they were in the early stages of looking for a player/coach for Tampa.

“I discovered they have a great platform in terms of branding, technology and marketing,” Tombrink says. “It’s a nice mousetrap. I was impressed.”

Tombrink’s goal with the company is to both grow its brand recognition and its number of agents, to more than double its current number a year from now, focusing first on retail agents and expanding to other sectors from there. 

“I think for us to be at 10 to 14 agents would be ideal,” Tombrink says. “To be successful, we’ll just have to be persistent.”







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