|What downturn? These past four years, Lee & Associates grew from 31 national offices to soon-to-be 44 (a new Southeast office is opening in next two or three months). Now the predominantly West Coast firm plans to open more East Coast offices, we learned from CEO Ed Indvik during his NYC visit Friday. Nationally, his ambition is big—“Sixty, 70, maybe even 80 offices,” he says. But the growth will be calculated, including a potential NYC presence. Lee is in advanced discussions with a Manhattan brokerage that has a similar employee ownership-driven culture. In turn, the relationship will give the Manhattan firm a national platform. Ed says they have to finalize discussions but hopes for a merger by the end of 3Q. Its offerings: office, retail, investment, and property and construction management.
|Lee’s East Coast migration began over two years ago when it opened its Little Falls, NJ office; it merged with Brian Lynch’s Commercial Realty Associates and tapped former Grubb & Ellis exec Rick Marchisio to lead. The office has grown by a dozen new brokers (office, industrial, and medical) and plans to add a dedicated investment sales platform to its services (including architecture and property management). Next stop: Central Jersey, where Lee plans another office by Q4 or Q1 ’12 as a link to a future Philly office. “We plan to continue our expansion into critical markets throughout the East,” Ed says, including the five boroughs, Long Island, DC, Boston, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. (They are taking over the world.) Now’s the time: the downturn has caused many brokers to be uncertain about their firms; this, coupled with Lee’s broker-owned platform, has attracted top talent and is fueling growth, Ed tells us.
|After some cheesecake at Junior’s, we discovered Ed’s real motivation for expanding: to continue his pursuit for more good eats. He visits New York four to five times a year—not only for business but also to visit daughter Lauren, an associate editor at Mashable (whom he saw interview Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley at a recent event at Hearst Tower). The self-described foodie’s favorite is barbeque; this trip, he stopped at Daisy May’s and hopes to try Dinosaur in the future.