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Colliers Hoists Flag In Richmond as Part of Major Virginia Expansion

September 12, 2012
Richmond-based Harrison & Bates, Inc., one of the largest and oldest commercial real estate firms in central Virginia, has teamed with Colliers International, adding 35 employees, including 22 brokers, from the former Grubb & Ellis affiliate and giving Colliers a strong platform in the Richmond and Hampton Roads markets.

Dan Spiegel, executive vice president of operations for Colliers International in the U.S., said the company had a small presence in the Richmond market for a number of years focused mainly on corporate solutions and facilities and property management. The addition of Harrison & Bates "gives us full scale local brokerage coverage that we didn’t have before," he said.

Harrison & Bates will drop its corporate name as a result of the move.

After a flurry of acquisition activity in 2010 and 2011, Colliers has become more selective recently. In May, Colliers added Inland Cos., an independent firm in Milwaukee with 50 brokers, and partnered with another local firm, Sandner Commercial Real Estate, in Birmingham, AL.

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However, Harrison & Bates, founded in 1910, is the first former Grubb & Ellis affiliate to actually pair with Colliers since the former’s bankruptcy woes this year, although Colliers did hire eight former Grubb & Ellis brokers to work out of its San Jose and Redwood City offices, and another five brokers joined Colliers in Sacramento.

The local Richmond company completed about 290 leases totaling $66 million and 49 sales totaling $47 million last year. David M. Williams, CEO of Harrison & Bates and now managing director and CEO of the Colliers Richmond office, said the firm considered affiliating with several companies over the years but was "very impressed with Colliers’ international footprint, high performance standards and breadth of service."

The Colliers affiliation further strengthen the company’s hand in Richmond and will allow it to expand beyond central Virginia and do more business in eastern part of the state, including Hampton Roads and the ports.

"It’s a natural launching point to do more and more, given Colliers’ capabilities in import and export types of business on the industrial side. We see a lot of opportunity to broaden our reach throughout the state."

Asked whether his company consider affiliating with the company that became Newmark Grubb Knight Frank post-bankruptcy, Williams said "we never even went there."

"We saw this happening a year, a year and a half ago," he said. "With the Grubb & Ellis situation, they had been going through all kinds of problems through 2010 and 2011, and what happened with the unfortunate bankruptcy situation at the beginning of 2012. By then, we were well ahead of the curve in trying to determine what was best for our company moving forward."

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