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Treating brokers with respect.

Stefan H. Ensler, the 43-year old vice-president of leasing for the Anderson Organization Inc., is one of the industry's rare birds, - a family man who seems more comfortable discussing his wife and twins than his latest deal.

That's probably one of the biggest reasons for his success as an owner's representative in commercial property leasing. He has an uncanny ability to humanize what can often be a cold, competitive market - to go the extra mile to not only seek out a tenant's needs and fill them, but also to take the time to treat the brokers involved in a deal with a respect and courtesy that only a former broker can appreciate.

A life-long Manhattan resident, Ensler spent several years as a commercial broker with Dakota Realty, working primarily with new construction projects on Staten Island.

His affiliation with the Anderson Organization began in 1987, when a Manhattan headhunter matched his skills with the then four year old company, which was looking to improve its broker relations. "They needed someone to isolate and identify the problems they had with leasing," Ensler recalls, "and I brought the perspective of a former broker to that process."

"Everybody dumps on brokers," says Ensler, explaining that their unique position as middle-men, working for tenants but being paid by owners, makes brokers easy targets for disdain from both groups," I try to treat brokers better, to service them. They're not adversaries."

Part of this "better treatment" is as simple as returning phone calls promptly, and paying commissions in full at the close of a deal. Other measures are more complex, such as getting personally involved in every transaction and ascertaining exactly what a tenant's requirements are.

"I don't want to waste anyone's time," Ensler says. "I try to make the most of brokers' time and offer suggestions. I try to tell them where they can get what's right for their tenants. Hopefully, that will be in an Anderson building."

But sometimes the fit is just not right, and Ensler has no qualms about steering brokers toward other buildings that better suit their clients' needs. It's similar to "A Miracle of 34th Street," where Macy's Santa sends customers to Gimbel's when he doesn't have what they want. And it works. The brokers keep coming back.

"A lot of people think sales is a numbers game - the more you show the better the results," Ensler says. "But I think it's more about quality and service."

Whatever the theory, you can't argue with the results. Since coming to Anderson six years ago, Ensler has brought new credibility and marketing leasing efforts to the company. Leasing has been robust, even in a down market. Anderson's 576 Fifth Avenue is now 100 percent leased, up from 70 percent; 152 Madison Avenue is 95 percent leased, up from 65 percent; 34 West 32nd Street has only one unit remaining; and 100 percent of the company's retail space is occupied.

Anderson's success can be attributed in part to Ensler's insistence on high visibility in the marketplace. He has increased advertising in such publications as The New York Times, Crain's, and yes, Real Estate Weekly. He has also developed monthly brokers' flyers and profiles on specific spaces and buildings, and created special promotions, bonuses and increased commissions for brokers doing business with Anderson.

Ensler has also been very successful in tenant renewals and expansions, due in a large part to his intervention in all aspects of the deal, from negotiations, through the issuing of the lease and all pertinent work, to responding to tenants needs after the lease is signed.

"You want to keep the tenant happy, Ensler says of his property management role. "After all, you're the one they remember, and you're the one they call when they have a problem."

However, some of Ensler's most rewarding experiences have come through his affiliations with industry organizations such as the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), where he serves on the Grand Central, MidTown West and Loft and Secondary Stores committees; and the Young Men's and Women's Real Estate Association (YMWREA), where he currently serves as vice chairman and chair of the Issues and Actions Committee.

"I've gotten so much out of these organizations," he says. "I've made more money, more deals and more friends. It's really opened doors. People know who I am."

His friendship with Lee Feld, of the Edward S. Gordon Company, and Harry Krausman, of Lansco Corp., who he met through YMWREA, directly led to one of his biggest deals, Information Builders Inc.'s 27,000 square-foot lease at Anderson's 34 West 32nd Street. Other noteworthy deals include Lady Ester Corp.'s 10,875 square-foot lease at 152 Madison Avenue; Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s 10,000 square-feet and Fujitsu Business Systems' 6,000 square-feet, both at 25 West 45th Street.

On the state of commercial leasing in Manhattan, Ensler sees a continued tenants' market. "For the most part, owners are giving more. The market has changed and tenants expect work. There's so much space available that free rent at about 1 month for every year of the lease has almost become the norm. The last 2 or 3 years, the market has become so much more competitive. There are so many spaces to chose from that tenants are selecting more than settling."

Despite robust activity, Ensler sees no positive absorption in the market, as many tenants embark on what he calls a "flight to quality," getting out of fringe areas such as Midtown South and moving into better buildings at prime locations.

"There are just too many spaces out there, and landlords who will build to suit or modify," Ensler says.

As for the future, Ensler is still driven by the deal, and committed to the business. He says he likes being an owners rep, although it's quite different from his days as a broker. He hopes that the 10-year old Anderson Organization continues to grow and acquire new buildings to represent.

But Stefan Ensler's life still revolves around wife Marcy, and the twins, Caroline and Phillip. It's not uncommon for him to rush home at the end of a day to spend some quality time with the four year olds, then rush back to the office after they're asleep to complete a deal.

It's this kind of balance between work and family that make Stefan Ensler one of the best-liked owner's reps in the business. A man who knows how to make the most of his time, and of others'.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:profile on commercial real estate leasing agent Stefan H. Ensler
Author:Gerard, Eric R.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 17, 1993
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