Interim CEO Hunt Sizes Up Grubb & Ellis at Midyear

Facing the toughest commercial real estate market in recent memory, Grubb & Ellis Co. continues to carry out a plan designed to invigorate the global giant. Although it may take some time before the fruits of those labors emerge completely, Grubb & Ellis’s newly appointed acting CEO says he sees multiple reasons for encouragement. In an interview with CPN Tuesday afternoon, Gary Hunt (pictured) took stock of the seven months since the merger of Grubb & Ellis and NNN Realty Advisors Inc., and concluded that Grubb & Ellis has made lengthy strides. “From the perspective of the company, the strategic plan put in place has been very well executed,” he said. Hunt stepped in as the firm’s interim leader following the departure last week of Scott Peters, who will focus on his roles as chairman & CEO of Grubb & Ellis Healthcare REIT. Hunt pointed to a recruitment effort that has landed five top executives since April. Most recently, on Tuesday, the firm revealed that it had tapped Chuck Hunt to take the post of executive managing director for Los Angeles County. Hunt will return to the firm next month after a three-year stint at Eastdil Secured. Other new faces at Grubb & Ellis include Greg Coxon, western regional president for transaction services; Glen Esnard, president, capital markets; Brett Hunsaker, executive vice president for business development; and Moody Younger, executive vice president & managing director for Texas. For the long term, the most critical change at Grubb & Ellis might be its new strategy of integrating its business lines. “All the various service lines are looking at a client’s needs holistically,” Hunt explained. As the result of a related company-wide reorganization of field offices that took final effect July 1, each managing director is tasked with overseeing performance of all the products in the local market. Under this new structure, Grubb & Ellis has held on to all of its existing corporate services clients and added some new ones. Integrating Grubb & Ellis’ network and NNN Realty Advisors has expanded the merged firm’s network of broker-dealers in the tenant-in-common, 1031 and REIT specialties, Hunt said. So far two national broker-dealer networks have jumped on the bandwagon and a third is expected to follow, said Hunt. During the first quarter alone, the company’s non-traded healthcare and apartment REITs raised more than $74 million, he noted. Meanwhile, Grubb & Ellis has identified an estimated $16.5 million in cost savings and efficiencies resulting from the merger. Although company stock values have ebbed in recent months, the board of directors displayed confidence in the firm’s future, approving a $25 million common stock buyback program extending through the end of next year.