In early 2010, when the commercial real estate market was still deep in the post Great Recession doldrums, two Milwaukee area commercial Realtors left their jobs at two of the largest commercial real estate firms in the region to start their own boutique commercial real estate brokerage in the Village of Lannon in northern Waukesha County.
Ryan Persitza left his job as a vice president at Brookfield-based NAI MLG Commercial. Jennifer Green left her job as a vice president for the Milwaukee office of CB Richard Ellis. Prior to that she was a project manager for Renner Architects and before that she was an architect for Zimmerman Design Group.
Persitza and Green joined forces and started Commercial Realty Advisors LLC, a boutique commercial real estate firm. They opened for business in April of 2010.
“We wanted to lay low and get our traction for the first three quarters,” Green said. “I’m very happy (with how business is going). We must have put to bed 20 deals in the first three quarters.”
“We’ve got 20 listings right now, several tenant rep assignments and several consulting assignments,” Persitza said.
Persitza’s real estate focus is primarily on industrial and investment properties. Green’s focus is primarily on office and non-profit users.
They wanted to form their own company to have more freedom about the type of clients they could represent and the levels of service they could provide, Green and Persitza said. In addition to the brokerage services, Green and Persitza say they can provide additional real estate consulting services to clients.
“We have a lot more flexibility to take on projects that we would have been restricted from doing,” Green said.
Green’s architectural experience allows her to provide consulting services to clients for space planning, Persitza said.
Green said she prefers to focus a large portion of her work on local nonprofit organizations. CB Richard Ellis focuses more on national clients, she said.
“My business paradigm is focused on the community, local nonprofits,” she said. “At my former career I was locked in, limited to what I could do. Now we can do whatever we want to take on.”
Persitza and Green started their company when the commercial real estate market was still extremely weak. Although commercial real estate deal volume was way down last year, it was a good time to start the business because building owners and tenants still needed real estate services, they said.
“Landlords and tenants need our help more than ever,” Green said. “(They are wondering) what do we do?”
“I think we are in a position to create more value now in a tough market,” Persitza said.
Commercial Realty Advisors occupies space in an office building at 7434 N. Lannon Road in Lannon. The firm shares the building with KKOM, an integrated marketing firm. Persitza is also a senior vice president of KKOM.
The building was originally a settlement house built in the 1870s. It was later expanded in 1991.
Persitza and Green said they plan to stay in the Lannon building. Green said she especially enjoys the creative feel and open concept of the office space in the building.
KKOM has a large client base, especially with manufacturing clients, that Commercial Realty Advisors has been able to tap into, Persitza said.
“The idea of getting into an agency that had this huge rolodex of companies they work with was attractive to me,” he said.
Persitza and Green plan to eventually add 2 to 3 additional experienced brokers, but that will be about it, they say. They want to keep the company strong and maintain a close relationship with their clients.