Pinnacle Real Estate Advisors has been the perfect fit for James Mansfield.
“Pinnacle has exceeded my expectations,” Mansfield told me last week.
Mansfield, a veteran of big firms such as Cushman & Wakefield, Opus Northwest LLC, Brookfield Office Properties and Grubb & Ellis, initially joined Pinnacle in November 2015.
Last month, he was one of 15 named as principals at Pinnacle.
While Mansfield talked to some of the larger brokerage firms, he quickly focused on Pinnacle, where as Pinnacle’s first managing director he oversees brokerage operations, drives Pinnacle’s strategic growth initiatives and recruits talent.
Like so many people who formerly worked for big operations, in commercial real estate as well as in other fields, Mansfield wanted more control over his life.
While he still has many dear friends at Cushman & Wakefield and admires what it accomplishes, he did want more control and less bureaucracy.
“At this stage in my career, I wanted the opportunity for some local ownership and less of a bureaucratic structure,” said the 54-year-old Mansfield, a Denver native.
He also liked and hit it off with Ritter and Johnson.
They really connected when Mansfield got the NAIOP Winter Classic Hockey and Curling fundraiser, which has raised $85,000 so far for Children’s Hospital. off the ground four years ago,
A number of brokers at Pinnacle play hockey, including Ritter and Johnson, he said. “I play poorly,” Mansfield said.
After it was announced that Cushman & Wakefield was being sold, Mansfield, who will be the president of the Colorado NAIOP chapter next year, found himself at the same table at a NAIOP luncheon.
“Matt asked me what I was doing next and I said, ‘I don’t know,’” Mansfield recalled.
“We should talk,” Ritter said.
And Pinnacle is not a small operation.
“If you look at our 50 brokers, last year they did $622 million in business and 338 transactions,” Mansfield said.
“Pinnacle is the largest locally owned brokerage in Denver,” he said. Only the five national brokerages are bigger.
The bread-and-butter transactions at Pinnacle are between $3 million and $15 million, he said. Brokers, especially on the multifamily side, do a lot of deals below $2 million and even $1 million, he said.
“We have all of the other food groups,” in addition to multifamily, he said.
For example, Pinnacle has five teams that focus on retail, as well as brokers who do office, industrial and land deals. Brokers at Pinnacle do leases as well as sales.
Pinnacle also has a valuation and a triple-net division that Mansfield launched.
Going forward, “I think we could add depth to all our divisions,” although he admits they are so entrenched in multifamily sales that to hire another broker to sell apartments would require a compelling story on how that person would add value to the existing teams.
Brokers are drawn to Pinnacle because of its collaborative culture, as well as its commission split, he said.
“Culture is everything,” Mansfield said. “At Pinnacle, there is no infighting. Everybody is very competitive, but they also are very collaborative.”
For example, 60 percent of their deals involve another broker, often with both sides being represented by Pinnacle brokers, at times from different in-house teams.
“Our brokers know who the buyers are out there, who closes on deals, and they know the hungriest buyers,” Mansfield said.
In other words, when one Pinnacle team gets the listing, another Pinnacle team often has the perfect buyer for the property.
Also, senior brokers at Pinnacle can keep 70 percent or more of their commissions. A 50-50 split is common at many commercial real estate brokerages.
“The biggest surprise to me are the systems and processes that are in place, which makes brokers more efficient, allowing them to concentrate on what they do best,” Mansfield said.
Along the same lines, he said the market research at Pinnacle is as stellar as the research found at any of the national companies.
Mansfield said that his hiring is an example of the long-term, strategic thinking by Ritter and Johnson, who founded Pinnacle is a cramped, subleased office in 2006.
“Jeff and Matt never had an outside person running things on a day-to-day basis and planning for the future like this before,” Mansfield said.
“I’m just really excited to be here and really excited about the future of Pinnacle.”