By Paula C. Squires
The courtship is over and the dance has begun for Richmond-based Harrison & Bates now that it has affiliated with Colliers International. Less than a week after the 102-year-old firm announced that it was dropping its name and becoming the Central Virginia affiliate of the international Colliers, Dan Spiegel, executive vice president of operations for Colliers, was in Richmond Monday for an orientation session with the firm’s staff.
In an interview with Virginia Business, Spiegel said that Colliers ― the third largest commercial real estate services company in the world ― went through a lengthy process of getting to know Harrison & Bates. “They are a tremendous partner. We offer a strong global brand. We’re thrilled about the future together,” he said.
Spiegel said Colliers, based in Seattle, looks forward to having a stronger presence in Hampton Roads, where the state’s port is preparing for what’s expected to be an influx of massive ships when an expanded Panama Canal opens in 2014. “We’ve done some business there, but we haven’t had a fulltime presence so to speak,” Spiegel said.
Last month Colliers released its North American Port Analysis Report, which looks at the rapid growth of intermodalism and the need for investment in U.S. ports, post-Panama Canal expansion. According to the report, four East Coast ports will be ready to handle post-Panamax ships by 2015, including Baltimore (2013), Miami (2014), New York (2015) and Norfolk (ready).
The report also notes that for the first time since World War II, container traffic growth on the East coast has surpassed that of the West coast, due in large part due to emergent, strong manufacturing companies moving to the Southeast and Midwest.
David Williams, managing director and CEO of Collier’s new Richmond office ― and the former CEO of Harrison & Bates ― said the firm has done a lot of business in the Hampton Roads market through the years. “We know the people, the markets … It’s bigger in some respects than Richmond. We’ve always aspired to do more there.”
Spiegel said bringing Harrison & Bates into the Colliers family will “expand our regional market presence.” Previously, Colliers had two agents in Richmond who primarily took care of corporate account management and property and facilities maintenance. “With 22 brokers joining us, we’ll have soup to nuts ... from local transaction management to a much broader presence. “
Colliers also is active in Northern Virginia, Spiegel said.
Asked if it was hard to drop the Harrison & Bates name, Williams said, “It was somewhat hard. It’s mainly emotional. When we look at reality it’s the best thing to do to be part of an international brand. It makes the most business sense going forward ― to be a broad-based service firm as opposed to being a boutique.” However, despite the name change, the firm remains independently owned and operated as the company reminded clients in a letter. It spelled out some of the firm’s new global capabilities including brokerage, valuation, consulting and appraisal services, mortgage banking and research.
Harrison & Bates was previously affiliated with Grubb & Ellis, which filed for bankruptcy in February and was later sold.
Colliers, which had annual $1.8 billion in revenue in 2011, employs 12,300 people in 522 offices in 62 countries.
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