Bill Bean saw a gap and wanted to fill it.
“After almost four decades of having an NAI affiliate in Fort Wayne, we went for a few years without one and I felt as a city, a community and a region, we were missing out on some opportunities,” says Bean, vice president of Hanning & Bean Enterprises, Inc., a Fort Wayne-based development company. “NAI feels very strongly about dealing with other NAI affiliates. For example, if an NAI affiliate anywhere in the world is looking for properties for a corporate customer with a need in the Midwest, they would check their list of NAI affiliates in the area and see us here in Fort Wayne. That means we would have the opportunity to get that business.”
NAI Global is one of the largest real estate franchise companies in the world. Bean’s company acquired the affiliation for all of northeast Indiana at the end of last year.
The new enterprise offers full-service commercial real estate brokerage and property management services. The only other city in Indiana to have an NAI affiliate is Indianapolis.
“The system works on referrals, and without an affiliate, there would be companies around the world that would have had opportunities for us, but they didn’t have a direct connection to the region.”
NAI Global has over 400 offices around the world that employ more than 7,000 professionals. Bean points out the benefit of an NAI program called “Broker to Broker.”
“Anybody who’s looking in this region and has NAI representation is obligated to contact us so we have an opportunity to participate. It works both ways. So, if we have a client here that we were representing who is looking for something in Detroit, then I would be able to go through the NAI broker in Detroit. If you look at the list of customers that NAI has, it’s a big and impressive list. We’ve already had some referrals since being an affiliate.”
While having the NAI affiliate could prove to be a tremendous boost to this area, Bean says NAI has a lot to gain from having a franchise in this market.
“One of the reasons NAI was interested in us becoming an affiliate is because of the quantity and the quality of the real estate that we already have in our portfolio. In doing their research, they felt like we would be a good partner. That put us at Hanning & Bean at the forefront. We already have the experience of managing six million to seven million square feet of properties and have done transactions with Fortune 100 companies like Chase Bank, Kroger, General Dynamics and Swiss RE – Swiss RE being one of the largest corporations in the world. We’re already versed in what it takes to deal at that level. At the same time, I always try to think locally. We also have a good number of local businesses that we’ve already been able to help with their real estate needs. We already have the experience, so having the NAI affiliation allows us to expand on what we’re already doing.”
Since acquiring the NAI franchise, Bean has continued looking ahead to the next project and he’s taken the approach that slow and steady wins the race.“We don’t necessarily want to be the biggest, we just want to be the best. We’re taking our time to put together the best team possible. Eventually, we’d like to expand our footprint with offices throughout the region. I’m excited to announce we’ve recently added to our team: Bill Drinkall, managing broker, brokers Rachel Romary, Gary Buschman and Jim Phillips, and Sonya Bondarenko, marketing director.”
As he grows his team, Bean is also looking to relocate his office in downtown Fort Wayne from its current location in the 1st Source Banking Center building to the Indiana Michigan Power Center, formerly One Summit Square, which Bean’s firm purchased a couple of years ago.
“Right now, we’re working out of offices on two different floors. With future growth inevitable, we’ll probably take up one entire floor in the Indiana Michigan Power Center.”
Bean says there are many reasons why northeast Indiana is an attractive market for businesses looking to set up operations here. One of the biggest bonuses is the low cost of housing.
“You can’t get anything like what we have here as far as housing goes. We had someone from Connecticut come here to look for a house. I took him to some upscale additions like Sycamore Hills, and he was just absolutely dumbfounded. He said the housing prices were probably half of what he’d pay in Connecticut. Most of the time, when someone from outside of the community is looking for space here, either they or people who work for them are going to be living here. So, housing and community amenities are very important to someone from out of town looking to set up business here. We recently completed a major deal with a Canadian company called Multimatic, Inc., and a lot of its questions had to do with things other than the commercial property it was buying. They asked a lot of questions about housing. As a result of it coming here in the next year-and-a-half, it will probably create 180 jobs and add an investment of almost $40 million – and that’s just one example.”
Bean expects a wide range of projects to come to fruition because of the NAI franchise. He emphasizes it will be a long-term commitment. All the more reason, he says, to continue to support growth and expansion in Fort Wayne.
“I’m probably one of the biggest cheerleaders for Fort Wayne and the area, and I really do believe in this community and what it has to offer. To tell people the story of the last ten years and all of the development that’s happened downtown is a great thing and a true standout to people looking to come here.”
Address: 200 East Main Street Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802
Phone: (260) 422-2150
Products & Services: Commercial and industrial real estate development, acquisition, brokerage and management promoting northeast Indiana as a place to invest and develop business.