independent because as Liam Neeson
says in the movie “Taken,” he has a
“particular set of skills.” Jim Kerrigan
probably can’t kill anyone with a ballpoint pen but he is a specialist in data
In fact, Kerrigan is one of only a handful of data center specialist specialists
who are outside the mainstream. “In my
space, about 75 percent of end users
don’t use a broker at all,” he explains.
“The guys at Microsoft or Google, they
won’t even deal with a real estate department. The guys in engineering say,
‘we know everything that is to know
about data centers, why would we want
to bring in the real estate guys?’”
In addition, Kerrigan knows the data
center markets nationally and he pub-lishes a coveted year-end newsletter
that reports every data center deal done
in the country.
“ A data center deal doesn’t depend on
a specific geographical area,” Kerrigan
explains. “ A company might have to look
at space in Chicago, Virginia, or Dallas.
I have to jump from market to market.
Being independent allows me that flex-
With such a specialty, being with a na-
tional firm was problematic.
“If, for example, I’m with a national firm
and I’m based in Phoenix but have to do
a deal in Dallas, I have to cut my fees in
half because I’m going to have to work
with someone else in Dallas, who might
not even know what buildings have
space,” he explains. “And that person
isn’t likely to know anything about data
Does Kerrigan need to be in a network?
Not at all. Just the opposite, because as
he says, “I don’t even try to get additional business. I get inundated with phone
calls from people who want to work
with me. I don’t have a problem finding
clients, it’s a question of, ‘do I want those
Like Kerrigan, Gabriel Silverstein, SIOR,
had worked at national companies before founding his own company, Angelic
Real Estate, 10 years ago, in probably
North America’s most competitive market, New York.
Silverstein is a theorist and his views on
independents vs. nationals are interest-
ing. Here are a few of his comments:
There is a lot of consolidation right now,
which is going to continue for the time
being. Small independent firms may
always exist, but the most endangered
independents of the species could be-
come the unaffiliated regional firms.
One thing going against independents
is that there is some percentage of the
client base universe where it is hard
for the corporate real estate director
to not choose one of the three biggest
firms because, even if something bad
happens, no one is going to blame the
director for hiring one of the big guys.
In fact, the director won’t get any credit
within the organization if he hires the
best independent firm that got an extra 5
percent on the deal. There is no internal
upside to hiring an independent. Being
part of a national network does not always overcome this problem.
The best way for independents to win is
not simply to be better, the independent
has to provide a unique value proposition to a customer. Instead of being the
best at whatever everybody else already
does, it’s about doing things that others
haven’t thought of doing – providing a
service that isn’t out there, especially