Jones Lang LaSalle plans to expand its New York and New Jersey brokerages by as much as 25 percent in the next three or four years, Peter Riguardi, president of New York operations, told Real Estate Weekly.
Brokers with a rolodex of tenant clients will be prime targets for JLL headhunters, according to Riguardi, who completed his tenth year leading the firm’s New York operation in September.
In that decade, the firm has grown from doing $15 million in business in New York each year to $150 million in the Tri-state area, Riguardi said, and he’s ready to expand that market share even more.
“In the tenant rep area, we might miss an opportunity to sell our firm because we might not have the contacts. We feel great when we have the opportunity – we have a great batting average – but nothing is more frustrating to me than not having an opportunity,” he said.
Leasing star Mitch Konsker and his team joined JLL from Cushman and Wakefield in early 2011, and the firm poached Robert Martin from CBRE in 2010 and Newmark Knight Frank’s Scott Panzer in 2009. This year, however, the company has been on a hiatus from high-profile hires, according to Riguardi.
“We wanted to work out some of the issues involved in having that type of talent work together,” he said. “We are not going to compromise our style of collaboration; of first comes the client, next comes JLL and third comes the individuals.”
Riguardi’s focus on collaboration is so strong that he seems to avoid using the word “I” as much as possible. “We feel that format creates a better opportunity to grow and for people to be individually more successful and profitable,” he said. “But we’re ready to grow again. We feel that we’re working well, that the teams are working well together. We understand how to deal with the issues when people bump into each other a little bit.”
Unlike the offices of some other firms, where brokers’ desks sit behind narrow corridors of often closed white doors, the JLL space on Madison Avenue embraces some cutting edge ideas in workspace design. Standing on the main floor, a visitor feels like almost every person in the company is in sight.
“We have a lot of open space; low partitions so people can see each other, talk to each other,” Riguardi said.
When the company moved from its previous offices on Lexington Avenue, it also shifted from a space allotment of 250 square feet per employee to half that, Riguardi said, relying more on spaces that employees share, from conference rooms and collaborative workspaces to lounge and recreation areas.
Private offices exist, but they are all glass-walled and of uniform size. “We feel like if you have an office it’s an office, you don’t need to have a second home,” Riguardi said. “We see a lot of unproductive space around as we do our business, and we did not want to do that here.”
In fact, the company’s design decisions can be a useful reference point for office clients.
“When our clients are looking to decide about their office for the next ten or 15 years, they really enjoy coming up here and understanding how we made our decision. Some of them might think this is great, some of them might think it’s not enough, and some of them might think it’s too much. But at least they can see our space as a benchmark of that movement,” Riguardi said.
Even the decision to transition to a smaller space per person was made in close consultation with key employees, Riguardi said. “We never do anything without collaboration.”
All of this may sound touchy-feely, but Riguardi is adamant that the company’s style comes from a determination to be the best.
“I think people who don’t know us from the outside looking in might consider it radical, but once you come here you realize we move fast, we’re competitive, we’re risk-takers, we’re aggressive and we’re involved in some of the most significant business in the city,” he said.
“I think we are trying to grow, but grow and let our business grow in a more sophisticated way. We’d rather be more like an investment bank than a traditional, old-fashioned real estate firm. But don’t be fooled, investment banks know how to fight for their business.”