Resource Commercial Takes Top Spot in Central Indy

The Indianapolis-based company has politely announced the severing of its affiliation with commercial real estate services giant Colliers International.

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Sam Smith, Resource Commercial Real Estate
Sam Smith, Resource Commercial Real Estate

Ten years after its formation, Resource Commercial Real Estate has announced its rebirth. The Indianapolis-based company has politely severed its affiliation with commercial real estate services giant Colliers International to take on the title of the largest independent commercial real estate brokerage group in Central Indiana.

Resource was technically an independent affiliate of Colliers, but it now functions as an independent and 100 percent locally owned company. There was good reason for the return to self-governance. “It really was changes in our local market where there was an opportunity to really keep our focus where we have had it for 10½ years, which is on our clients on Main Street, not our investors on Wall Street,” Sam Smith, Principal and Chairman, told Commercial Property Executive.

“We believe that there’s real demand and value for local companies like ourselves,” Smith continued. “We have the right technology, experienced and skilled people, resources, best-in-class methodologies and processes, so we can add significant value to our clients and create competitive advantage for them because we can tailor things and personalize services more effectively and efficiently as a local company.”

Resource’s decision to go out on its own again bucks the current trend in the commercial real estate services game, which, as Smith noted, is characterized by “the mega-merger mania and the sea of consolidation and change.” Mania, indeed. This year alone, Cushman & Wakefield Inc. and DTZ merged in a $2 billion deal on the heels of DTZ’s acquisition of Cassidy Turley in 2014. And more recently, Cushman & Wakefield snapped up New York City-based investment sales firm Massey Knakal Realty Services.

“We are swimming against the tide. It’s a little scary in that regard but we’re very confident that clients need personalized services, customized solutions,” said Smith. “We think there is a place for big companies and they definitely can add value to clients, but we believe there’s a real demand , an unmet market need for smaller boutique firms that have the same highly skilled, highly experienced people that have worked at large companies and have the training, but also have the resources and have the tools to be able to provide that highest level of service–but again to customize it and be able to tailor it to the client, and that’s really what I think big companies struggle with.

Part of the struggle for the giants in the services industry is the fact that they’re not just beholden to the clients. “When you’re a publicly traded company–and it’s not just Colliers, it’s the industry in general–the scorecard is your stock value, your growing revenue, number of brokers, and market share. Our measure is client satisfaction so those are very different measures,” Smith explained. “We believe there’s a market for a very highly client-focused firm with talented people. So we definitely see value in being able to tailor our services and our company around our clients as opposed to answering to another master on Wall Street. It’s not personal to Colliers; it’s just that this is what’s happening in the industry.”

Colliers isn’t taking it personally. The multi-billion-dollar global company just announced that it has acquired Summit Realty Group, a market leader in Indianapolis, which will serve as the company’s sole operation in the city. In a prepared statement, Martin Pupil, a regional president with Colliers, said “[Summit’s] unique expertise combined with their collaborative culture and passionate desire to serve clients makes them a perfect fit for Colliers and further strengthens our platform market leadership in the Midwest, an important and growing region.”

Certainly, things certainly are happening in the Midwest. In the 2015 Emerging Trends Report produced by PwC and the Urban Land Institute, new markets were added to better reflect investors’ growing acceptance of a wider set of potential investment markets, and three of those markets were in the Midwest, bringing the number of ranked markets in the region up to 13. And Indianapolis is doing its part to push the region forward.

“Right now, industrial is on fire,” Smith attested. “Indiana, and Indianapolis in particular, is a central focal point for logistics and distribution for a lot of companies so there’s been significant absorption in that area. There’s been a lot of construction; a lot of things were built but there’s been a lot of absorption. It’s always been: If you build it, they will come.” The Indianapolis residential market has had the same heat, and leads the property sectors. Retail has been very active and the office market is definitely on the upswing. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and we literally have had flat rents on a nominal basis since I started but in the last 12 to 18 months, we’ve seen real rent growth that we haven’t seen in the 34 years prior.”

Resource will certainly have its hands full—and not just in its hometown. While more than 90 percent of its business was generated locally and organically last year, the firm still partners with other leading firms on the regional, national and international fronts.