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New alliance gives The Furman Co. global reach

By James T. Hammond
Published Feb. 2, 2010

By affiliating with CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., Furman Co. President Stephen P. Navarro says the 120-year-old Greenville real estate firm will have substantially greater global reach than it did with its former partner, Grubb & Ellis.

CBRE is about 10 times as large as Grubb & Ellis, Navarro said. CBRE is twice as big as its nearest competitor, has 400 offices in 57 countries, and has $34.9 billion in assets under management.

Meanwhile, Furman Co. represents six out of nine of the Upstate’s largest employers, Navarro said, and must advise them on their changing real estate and facilities needs. That makes The Furman Co. more than just a brokerage; it has become a big picture consulting firm, he said.

For example, Navarro said Furman Co. represents Michelin throughout North America, and must have the resources to advise the global tire maker on its changing needs throughout the U.S., in Mexico and in Canada. With offices in all those places, Navarro said CBRE will give Furman Co. instant access to the best research and market information wherever they go.

Jim Reid, president of CBRE’s Eastern U.S. division, said his company is a global leader in real estate management, “and we want to elevate The Furman Co.’s capabilities.”

Reid also said CBRE had a gap in its operations that the affiliation with The Furman Co. will fill. With strong operations in Charlotte and Atlanta, CBRE and The Furman Co. will be better positioned to serve the entire I-85 corridor.

The affiliation does not change the ownership of The Furman Co., Navarro said, but as far as the public and corporate world is concerned, “we are CBRE in the Upstate.”

Navarro said CBRE already knows the Greenville real estate market very well. He noted that CBRE’s Charlotte office engineered five major commercial real estate deals in Greenville in the past four years, despite the fact it did not have an office here.

The new affiliation means that The Furman Co. is no longer affiliated with Grubb & Ellis Co., a California-based real estate services and investment firm. Grubb & Ellis issued a statement late Monday that it would expand its relationship with Grubb & Ellis | Wilson Kibler of Columbia to include the Greenville market, effective immediately.

"Our relationship with Wilson Kibler has been a valuable asset in serving the needs of our clients with a presence in South Carolina," said Jim Jones, executive vice president, Operations and chief operating officer, Real Estate Services. "We're thrilled to have the opportunity to build on these successes by expanding this excellent relationship."

Headquartered in Columbia, Grubb & Ellis | Wilson Kibler is one of the largest commercial real estate brokerage firms in the state. The company was founded by the firm's principals, Jeremy G. Wilson and C. Marshall Kibler, in 1987, and has been affiliated with Grubb & Ellis since 2001. In addition to its Columbia office, the firm operates an office in Myrtle Beach.

The Furman Co. brokerage and facilities services company will be branded as CB Richard Ellis | The Furman Co., and will represent the Upstate region of South Carolina, including Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Abbeville, Cherokee, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens and Union counties, according to The Furman Co.’s statement.

The parent company, The Furman Co., Inc., is Upstate South Carolina's oldest full service commercial real estate firm. Founded in 1888, The Furman Co. has helped recruit and develop new business and industry within the state. The remaining operating companies will continue to operate and deliver services as The Furman Co., Development LLC, The Furman Co., Insurance Agency LLC and The Furman Co., Investment Advisory Services LLC.

The Furman Co. said in a news release that the affiliation reflects CB Richard Ellis’ strategy to ensure high quality client service in key markets across the United States and the world. CBRE | The Furman Co. employs 37 professionals, including 20 sales professionals.

“Everyone who knows us also knows that our mission is to provide the most sophisticated advisory services available. This affiliation will give our clients access to more markets and to the strongest and deepest array of commercial real estate services in the world,” said Navarro.

CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm in terms of 2008 revenue.

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