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Tenant advocate stresses team spirit, fairplay.

Traditionally, the New York real estate world has been portrayed as brokers with a cut-throat approach and "greed-is-good" attitude. But that world has seen the need to change, and change quickly.

Today, corporations view real estate with different goals. Pressured by downsizing and outsourcing, alternative workplace and the oncoming new technologies, they need visionary real estate advisors who can respond to the evolving and expanding components of their space requirements and make it all be utilized more efficiently, at lower cost.

Equis is part of the new breed of broker in New York that has rolled up its sleeves and put on a new thinking cap - and it thinks very differently.

Surrounded by a world of gunslingers, Equis brokers act more like a special forces team. Equis sanctions fair play and team spirit. It discourages stepping on one another's toes. Hard to believe? That's okay, say those who work there, no one does until they come aboard.

'Not Your Father's Brokerage'

"This is not you father's brokerage company," quips Equis co-manager Richard Podos, who has been with the firm since 1994. Podos himself has scars that compare with the wiliest deal makers; he knows what is different at Equis.

"Equis was founded in 1984 with the premise of building a brokerage firm without landlord conflicts of interest, and that utilized a new model of management and service delivery, one that fostered customer-focused professionals helping each other every step of the way."

Equis has proved this point by expanding to 250 employees in 25 offices, and most recently, when Chrysler signed them to rethink and reutilize its worldwide real estate program.

Among the major local and national clients it now handles along with the mega automaker are The Travelers, Ameritech, Xerox, Coca-Cola, United Healthcare, Chicago Title and Trust, Prudential Securities, USLIFE, Oracle and a host of others.

Equis first entered the city in 1991, albeit very quietly. Today, with 25 persons, it is one of the fastest growing tenant services companies in New York. Last year, it hired 10 new brokers on various levels, including junior associates, mid-level brokers, as well as senior management. Equis plans to hire significantly more than that figure in the near future, according to Co-Manager Robert Ageloff.

"The ongoing expansion of our local practice allows greater market coverage and an increase in market share," Ageloff said. "We have a unique process that has been validated and publicized by numerous blue-chip and Fortune 500 companies - a process that translates exceedingly well for clients of various types and size."

"We are really taking advantage of the fact that this market is ripe for a company with a differentiating philosophy and unique approach to real estate," Ageloff continued. "We are quietly and effectively winning more and more assignments. This will always be a relationship business. However, if you don't have the depth of resources and services of an entire company behind you, then you are at a clear disadvantage."

Handles Occupant Advocacy Exclusively

Equis handles occupant advocacy exclusively, and does not own or manage real estate or represent building owners or developers. It provides businesses - small, medium and large - with a multi-disciplined real estate approach, including transaction, project management, project finance, auditing and information and administrative management services.

"Whether a company is considering relocation, renewal, expansion or consolidation, the Equis team has the in-depth experience and global resources to help it achieve its goals," Ageloff said.

One of the brokers who has found himself thriving in the new environment is assistant vice president Jack Petrie, who recently moved the Irish airline Aer Lingus' North American Headquarters out of Midtown Manhattan and into more efficient offices outside the city at 538 Broadhollow Road in Melville in Suffolk County.

"We were able to successfully define the location and finalize the deal quickly through a team effort. Additionally, as project management is integrated into the Equis approach, we were able to control and accelerate the entire process," said Petrie.

After searching some 12 to 15 sites in and around Manhattan, the team advised Aer Lingus executives to house the expanding airline in a 15,000 square-foot, single floor of space that would contain reservation-taking and administrative space as well as corporate offices. The new lease would also allow for significant cost reductions.

Equis was able to locate the site and finalize the new lease in less than 10 months, allowing the Dublin-based carrier to expand and upgrade its workspace from an older building in the city to a modern Class A facility.

"Unlike a traditional real estate firm, the Equis team is able to bring the multiplicity of talents of all its divisions to a transaction, including project management, administration and consulting," said Petrie. "At a traditional brokerage shop, one hand too often doesn't know what the other is doing."

A New Culture

"People don't believe us when we tell them how different we are," said Ageloff. He emphasized that the company makes painstaking efforts to train and often retrain new members to the team. "The difference in the Equis culture is that we have broken down all the old modes of thinking. We have to retrain some people when they come in; we want people who have seen what doesn't work and are willing to change," he said.

Proof of the team spirit at Equis is the lack of inter-office arbitration which haunts some brokerages. "We have never had one, and the way I see it, we never will," Podos insists.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Hagedorn Publication
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Equis
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 8, 1997
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