Stucky’s collapse sends industrial agent to Landmark
Wichita Business Journal - by Chris Moon
After a failed attempt to acquire the Coldwell Banker Commercial franchise in Wichita, local broker Ted Branson has left that company to sign on as an agent with Landmark Commercial Real Estate.
Landmark President Brad Saville says Branson brings needed experience as a broker of industrial property, something Landmark has lacked since it was founded in 1993. Branson says the move gets him into a better situation than the one that had been spiraling downhill for the past three months at Coldwell Banker.
“It’s a solid company,” Branson says. “To me, it’s a hand-in-glove fit.”
His switch was made official Tuesday.
The move marks another step in the disintegration of Stucky & Associates Realtors, which still holds the franchise rights to Coldwell Banker Commercial in Wichita.
In one of the biggest shake-ups of the local real estate market in years, Frank Stucky this summer was stripped of his Coldwell Banker residential franchise and has been sued by the Parsippany, N.J.-based firm for delinquent franchise fees. Stucky has held onto the commercial franchise through the tumultuous time that followed. Nearly all of his residential agents have left for other firms, and his commercial brokers scattered as well.
Branson, a commercial broker since 1977, says he tried to assume the last two years of Stucky’s franchise agreement with Coldwell Banker Commercial but was turned down by Coldwell Banker. He says the firm is seeking an existing company to take over the brand, rather than a single broker with plans to build the company gradually over time, which Branson says he wanted to do.
“I wasn’t in a position to take on 10 agents,” he says.
Branson says Coldwell Banker Commercial won’t continue with its franchise in Wichita.
David Siroty, a Coldwell Banker spokesman, says its commercial franchise remains active with Stucky & Associates Realtors, but he declined to comment further, citing its litigation against Stucky.
Frank Stucky didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Finding a Brand
Branson had spent 24 years at his family’s firm, Branson & Associates Inc., before leaving for Coldwell Banker Commercial for a change of pace following his father’s death in 2002.
Branson says he was drawn to Coldwell Banker by its national presence and his ability to get access to more deals with buyers and sellers from outside the Wichita metro.
He says he was in charge of efforts to build the franchise in Wichita. It grew to six agents in 2008, and Branson says his business was coming to a “culmination when the Stucky companies fell apart.”
But already Branson had been talking to Saville about joining forces.
The two say they talked on and off during the past two years about Landmark taking over the Coldwell Banker Commercial brand. Saville about a year ago made a trip to New Jersey to investigate the possibility.
He decided against it, but says the decision wasn’t financial.
“In consideration of Wichita and the brand identity Landmark already has and careful conversations with our agents, ... we’re not sure it was as much a benefit to us as it would be to them,” Saville says.
Instead, Branson landed at Landmark, Wichita’s third largest commercial brokerage for number of agents.
The independent real estate brokerage has specialized over the years in office and retail leasing, along with development. Saville says the company typically has only a half dozen industrial listings at a given time.
“With all the industrial owners and manufacturers, that’s a full-time discipline,” he says.
Branson says 60 to 70 percent of his portfolio of business is industrial and land projects.
He says he’ll work to bring 40 to 50 listings to Landmark. He says he has no pending contracts with Stucky.
Jerry Gray, vice president and general manager of J.P. Weigand & Sons Inc.’s commercial division, says the move isn’t that significant to the overall brokerage scene in Wichita.
“Ted’s been a respected competitor for a long time. He’s got a good block of business,” Gray says. “Moving from Coldwell Banker to Landmark, I don’t think that changes anything.”
He says the move into the industrial sector should be a good one for Landmark.
“That has been one area where they haven’t been as active. It makes sense for Brad Saville to do that,” Gray says. “From our perspective, it didn’t change the competitive landscape because Ted’s been in the business for a long time.”