Lee & Associates Opens First Office in Florida


Torrance, FL – December 6, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Lee & Associates, one of the largest full-service commercial real estate firms in the country, has taken an important step in bolstering its Southeast presence with the opening of its first office in Florida, Lee & Associates Naples/Ft. Myers. The office is headed by Bob Johnston, Jerry Messonnier and Richard B. Clarke, who before joining Lee were the founders of one of Southwest Florida’s top commercial brokerage firms, Grubb & Ellis/1st Commercial, LLC. The trio represents 70 years of commercial brokerage experience and an in-depth connection with Florida commercial real estate.

“With the addition of the Naples/Ft. Myers office, Lee caps 2011 with a banner year of a methodical and opportunistic strategy of nationwide expansion,” said Edward Indvik, CEO of Lee & Associates. “We have a clear objective of focusing on exceptional talent and location, which speaks to the value we place on the Naples/Ft. Myers area and Jerry, Richard and Bob. Our plans for strategic expansion, which include the other major markets in Florida and the southeast and northeast, is on course and will continue through 2012 and beyond. I expect us to have announcements on several additional locations in the first quarter 2012 alone.”

Lee & Associates Naples/Ft. Myers, which becomes the firm’s 45th office nationwide, is located at 7950 Summerlin Lakes Drive, Ft. Myers. Nine brokers fill its roster and represent the industrial, office, retail and investment markets. The announcement comes one month after Lee opened a New York City location, which followed other significant new office openings in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Kan. and Greenville, S.C.

“While Florida, like the rest of the country, has been struggling with the economic downturn, beginning this year, commercial real estate has started to pick up momentum as more property becomes affordable,” said Messonnier. “As a result, with our expertise in this region and the Lee & Associates national network, it’s the perfect opportunity and match as we continue to grow in the Florida market.”

Indeed, some key factors that are making the Southwest Florida market more attractive are low corporate taxes; proximity to major markets such as Tampa and Miami; extensive transportation infrastructure, including an expanding international airport; numerous educational institutions — two universities and various two- and four-year colleges; the recent upswing in commercial activity in the Southwest Florida market along with the ongoing influx of major and small businesses to the area.

Overall, Florida, which has a GDP of $744 billion, is ranked as the fourth largest state economy in the United States. And according to a 2011 survey by Chief Executive Magazine, which polled 500 CEOs on a wide range of criteria, from taxation and regulation to workforce quality and living environment, Florida was ranked third in the nation as the best place for business.

In addition to Johnston, Messonnier and Clarke, other key figures in the Naples/Ft. Myers office include: Derek Bornhorst and Bob White, industrial specialists; Chuck Smith and Carols Acosta, retail specialists; Charles Jans, office specialist.

In 2008, Johnston and Messonnier, who led the southwest Florida industrial team at another national firm, were one of the top teams in the region’s industrial market, left to form their own entity, Grubb & Ellis/1st Commercial LLC. The pair continues to dominate the industrial market with a 65 percent market share.

Before beginning his career in commercial brokerage, Messonnier spent 20 years in the commercial banking industry and was owner of his own real estate investment firm.
With 25 years of commercial real estate experience, Clarke specializes in property acquisitions and dispositions for national development and brokerage companies, asset management, development, construction and leasing. Prior, Clarke was Vice President of development for Opus South Corp. in Fla., working with private clients, lenders, asset managers and hedge funds.

Johnston, who has more than 20 years experience in selling and leasing industrial property, began his career in Southern California where he became familiar with the Lee & Associates business model whereby the office is controlled by the brokers, not corporate managers. “We are extremely excited about moving forward as we join with Lee & Associates, which shares the same values and goals we have,” Johnston said.

About Lee & Associates
Celebrating more than 32 years of leadership excellence in commercial real estate, Lee & Associates is the largest broker-owned firm in the nation, with 45 locations across the nation including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin. With a roster of nearly 700 expert brokers, Lee & Associates provides a wide range of specialized commercial real estate services. Additional information is available at www.lee-associates.com.


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