picked up was from Lutheran Life Villages, which hired them to find a good loca
tion for building assisted living and senior housing.
“My team got the deal because of the fact that we had the only land sales in the
county over the last couple of years,” Spake explains. “We researched land, made
maps, and became the experts.”
Daniel Cawley, SIOR, runs his own company, Cawley Chicago Commercial
Real Estate Co., based in Downers Grove, Illinois. He does very well as an indepen
dent despite the fact that his target market, suburban Chicago, is overrun with the
big national and international players.
How does he compete? By becoming a specialist in the one sector—smaller
properties, it makes the big brokerage houses uncomfortable. Cawley specializes in
properties of 250,000 square feet or less with an average deal size at 20,000 square
feet. It’s not that the big players can’t do small, but they don’t make enough return
for their effort.
“A large, national firm has a high overhead so it’s not worth it for them to do a
Out of the Box is in the Box
20,000 squarefoot transaction,” Cawley explains. “They can’t make any money
doing those deals. We are an intown company, our overhead is low, and we can get
those deals done because we pay attention.”
What’s interesting about Cawley’s business is that the big firms often hire his
company because, as he says, “This is the niche we have carved out.”
Recently, Cawley Chicago brokered the sale of two buildings in the Chicago sub
urbs, one at 176,000 square feet and the other at 180,000 square feet. These were two
spaces that certainly fit into the company’s bailiwick. However, the company attained
the listing because Cawley Chicago maintains a practice, canvassing, that is seldom
seen much anymore amongst the big real estate brokerage companies.
The art of canvassing, for those who have forgotten, is simply to park your car on
the street, grab a handful of flyers, go doortodoor in a given location or submarket,
and ask to talk to the decisionmaker.
“When we get hired to lease a space,” Cawley explains, “we will go into that sub
market and canvas every building in that submarket telling people we have space
For those two buildings sold earlier this year, through canvassing, Cawley
Chicago met with two different owners who weren’t looking to lease space, but as
it turned out, had buildings to sell.
“We called our institutional friends and said, “‘Hey, we got these properties.’ It
generated a number of offers before word even got out to other brokers,” Cawley
says. “We had both those deals under contract in two weeks.”
Another industrial specialist who had gone outofthebox with a program that
is really more old than new is Andrew Jaffe, SIOR, a senior vice president with
Commercial Properties Inc./CORFAC International in Tempe, Arizona. When he
meets with clients, he commits to specific tasks.
Recently, Jaffe secured the listing of a TRW manufacturing facility in East Mesa,
a 375acre, sale/leaseback.
“I got the listing because of diligence, but mostly because I committed to do
things for TRW as I commit to do for other agencies,” Jaffe says. “Subsequently, I
fulfill what I commit to do.”
He adds, “I got complemented by TRW for the commitments. I told them I was
going to do A, B, and C, and a couple of months into the listing, we had a confer
ence call and they acknowledged that yes, I was doing A, B, and C.”
A commitment program only works if you stick to it, cautions Jaffe. “I don’t
care how big a real estate company you are, if you commit to do something, follow
through on it because the last thing you want to do is make a commitment, not fol
low through, and have to make up excuses.”