- Derek Hermsen
20 Years of Representing Tenants
In September of 1999 I was fresh out of college looking for a job and my dad suggested that I talk to my cousin, Parker Ferguson, "who did something in commercial real estate". I already had my real estate license from working onsite at condo projects over the summers in college, but had no idea what to expect at a commercial brokerage. I took a position as a "runner" for a local tenant representation firm, Flinn Ferguson.
After meeting the owners of Flinn Ferguson, they didn't want to hire me (or anyone else...I think) full time. But I needed a job. They offered me a $1,500 per month stipend for 10 months as a "runner", whose role is to prospect and learn the ropes, so I jumped on it. That stipend would cover my rent and car payment (manual transmission Ford Mustang!). A new 0% interest Discover card would cover the rest of my expenses for a year.
Photo: Derek Hermsen with the Spirit of 76 at the 2002 Unico Properties NASCAR event, Phoenix, AZ
Over the next year I got to learn from two of the best tenant brokers in the city, Parker Ferguson and Dan Flinn. I will never forget practicing "cold calls" with Dan Flinn. The characters that he would become on the other end of that phone and the rejections that he offered to me were priceless. Going to meetings with Dan or Parker always offered something to remember. The one skill that I took from each of them though was this: connect with the client as a person first, and as their broker second.
Ten months later, my first deal was closing; 1,200sf at the Norton Building. And just like that, I was "off the teat" and became a real broker. No more stipend; commission only. No deals = no meals. It was exciting and difficult, but I knew nothing else.
Thankfully, each year that I continued on, I met more people and my network expanded and prospecting got easier. Some years were tough, but more of them were good. Enough so that I eventually started my own firm, Union Street Corporate Real Estate.
Prior to making the jump, I analyzed what happened in those "tough" years. I realized that it was simply periods of time that I was enjoying working for my clients and not focusing on revenue. I was enjoying being innovative and working on projects more than hammering the phones. As architect Jim Burgess said, I was "an engineer trapped in a broker's body." Starting Union Street enabled me to continue to work on my clients' requirements, while exploring new processes and capabilities. I could provide even better service for my clients, which in turn led to better brokerage.
And here I am today, 20 years later; still advising the "users of space". I was truly blessed to stumble into the niche of "tenant representation". The entrepreneurs and
business owners that I work with every day are what make it the best. Not everyone appreciates what I bring to the table, but for my clients that do, they know I will do everything possible to take care of their needs; and I am thankful for every single one of them.