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March 01, 2017

After SoCal acquisition spree, CRE firm Kidder Mathews looks to Bay Area expansion

Silicon Valley Business Journal

Janice Bitters

Kidder Mathews in February announced it made two big West Coast mergers and company leaders say the privately owned real estate firm will look to grow its Bay Area operations in the future.

As of March 1, Los Angeles-based brokerage and property management company Heger Industrial has officially joined Kidder Mathews. Last week, Kidder Mathews announced it has also acquired Costa Mesa-based Alden Management Group, which specializes in commercial property management.

With the newest acquisitions in place, Seattle-based Kidder Mathews now manages more than 45 million square feet of office, industrial and warehouse space, which the company says makes it the largest independently owned commercial brokerage on the West Coast.

And Kidder Mathews has plans to try to keep that title by continuing to look for acquisition opportunities, especially in the Bay Area, said Jeff Lyon, chairman and CEO of the company.

"If we can find the right opportunity or the right team, we want to be in the East Bay - that's where we need to be," he said in an interview this week.

But the rest of the Peninsula is on his radar, too, especially as other real estate firms in the area have consolidated in recent years.

Among them, Cornish & Carey Commercial, which was sold in 2014 to New York-based BGC Partners Inc., the parent of real estate firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. That same year, Cassidy Turley merged with an affiliate of DTZ Investment Holders and later acquired Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

Last year, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported that Savills Studley acquired Cooper Brady Partners, which for more than 15 years was better known as Cresa San Jose and Cresa Palo Alto.

For Kidder Mathews, those acquisitions spell out opportunities on the Peninsula to grow with brokers or other companies looking to work with a new independent firm, Lyon said.

"We are hoping that we're going to be able to take advantage of some opportunities that might be coming up," he said.

Between the two newest buys, Kidder Mathews will grow by more than 40 people, split nearly in half between brokers and property management professionals.

The two companies' leadership will stay on for the foreseeable future. Robert Thornburgh, a principal at Heger Industrial, will work beside Kidder Mathews' own management, retaining a leadership role in the company.

Andrew Zimbaldi, president and founder of Alden Management will be the firm's senior vice president and lead the property management operations for Kidder Mathews in the greater Los Angeles basin region.

Both will report to top leaders at Kidder Mathews, but the groups will convene later this month to talk more details about the company structure, Lyon said.

In the meantime, the deal has been a win for Alden, which has been looking for a purchaser, Zimbaldi said.

"Over the past several months, we've had a handful of firms interested in acquiring our company," he said in a recent press release. "But Kidder Mathews impressed us as having the most complete scope of services to benefit our clients and the most attractive environment and platform for our employees."

Kidder Mathews now has more than 300 brokers, spread out over 20 locations, with a dozen of those offices in California. In all, the company has more than 650 employees. That broker count is up from 65 spread over four offices in 2000, when Lyon took over as chairman and CEO, he said. The company aims to be a full-service real estate company on the West Coast, like it is in other markets.

"It's all about attracting the talent," Lyon said. "I don't think on the service business side it's easy to transport someone from one market to another market. They've got to be ingrained in the community."

Much of that growth has been in the form of acquisitions, but the company also opened a new office in San Diego with three brokers in 2015. The company has nearly 30 brokers in the San Diego area today.

Kidder Mathews also has offices in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Commerce, Orange County, Inland Empire, Carlsbad, San Francisco, Redwood City, San Jose, Sacramento and Roseville.

But the real estate firm isn't adding coverage areas in preparation to sell, Lyon said. Instead, he says the acquisitions will help the company continue to grow as it is by gaining new talent and clients.

"I think it gives us greater credibility," Lyon said. "And it's easier to have conversations with more people because of the coverage that we have."

For the full story, go to Silicon Valley Business Journal.

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