After 20 years of running her own shop, well-known Dallas real estate executive Susan Arledge will soon be taking the helm of Cresa Dallas. In a reorganization that’s planned to take effect Oct. 1, her company, Arledge Partners, will become Cresa Dallas, replacing the former Dillon Corporate Services group.
That firm was founded by Greg Langston and Terry Quinn in 1993. Dillon became the Cresa affiliate in 2001; five years later, the co-founders became partners, owning shares in the Cresa LLC.
“It has been a good run for 12 years,” Quinn said. “We have mutually decided to part ways.”
Discussions of a change began about a year ago, after Jim Leslie, former president of The Staubach Co., was named CEO of Cresa.
“Terry and Greg and their team have been a great piece of the Cresa puzzle,” Leslie said. “But their objectives are a little bit different than what we’re now trying to build. It’s not that they’re right or wrong or that we’re right or wrong, it’s just different. We decided that mutually we want to go one way and they want to go another.”
Once that decision was made, Arledge quickly emerged as a top candidate. Along with leading the Dallas office, she will oversee Cresa’s site selection platform nationwide.
“It’s not too often that you get an opportunity to have a Stemmons Service Award-winner lead the charge in building an organization,” Leslie said. “With her reputation, experience, and relationships, I think we’re going to have a heck of a team—in short order.”
Leslie and Arledge first worked together about 30 years ago, when they were instrumental in developing the tenant representation specialty at The Staubach Co. Arledge left after seven years, and went on to launch Arledge Parters in 1993, but her close relationship with Leslie remained intact.
The Staubach Co. was folded into Jones Lang LaSalle in 2008. Today, Cresa is one of the few organizations to maintain an exclusive tenant rep focus.
“Once Staubach went, the space became chaotic, with many others selling to full-service firms,” Leslie said. “And there’s a real and perceived bias there. People sell through it, but it’s there.”
Cresa currently has 58 offices with about 600 professionals; it generates about $200 million in revenue. Leslie aims to double the size of the organization and triple the firm’s market share around the country.
“There are some markets where we need to have a bigger presence; Dallas is one of them,” he said.
He and Arledge also hope to boost Cresa’s local brand recognition. Earlier this year, the independent Watkins Research Group surveyed corporate real estate executives—users of space. On a matrix that evaluates “Adds to the Bottom Line” and “Strong Client Orientation,” Cresa came out No. 1, besting nearly 20 other firms, including biggies like CBRE, JLL, and Colliers International.
“I don’t think Cresa is perceived as strongly here as it is in other markets, and that’s something we want to change,” Arledge said. “It has been a limitation in the past. We want to create more awareness, and we want to grow people, revenue, and market share.”
How the Deal Came Together
Arledge watched with interest as other Cresa offices have grown across the country, especially those led by former Staubach Co. colleagues. A few years back, she talked with friends at the organization’s Orange County office about doing something with Cresa.
“I was so impressed by their growth model and what they were doing,” she said. “It wasn’t a good fit at the time, but it was a conversation that continued over time. Finally, the opportunity was right. Cresa needed to make a change in Dallas, and they needed to grow the site selection/location planning group nationally. It just became a good time and a good fit.”
Leslie was another significant factor in her decision to make a change, Arledge said.
“Jim is a key reason that a lot of the Cresa offices are flourishing,” she said. “The leadership he brings comes from doing the same thing at The Staubach Co. It’s very hard to roll out a growth model in this business—it’s extremely difficult to do if you don’t have someone with experience, someone who has done it before.”
The Cresa model is to seek out top performers and give them an opportunity to become partners and shareholders as the company grows, allowing them to personally benefit from the value they create. Arledge said Dallas is a strong tenant rep market, one that’s highly competitive. Still, there are a lot of brokers looking for an opportunity that won’t cap their growth or have some ceiling based on the structure of a firm, she said.
“If someone can come in and be productive, they ought to be able to benefit and create value for themselves,” she said. “We want people who want to work hard, and be rewarded for it.”
Arledge will be looking for different levels of personnel, from those with an established client base to transaction specialists and high-potential younger brokers, as well as researchers and analysts for the site-selection group. That group requires different skill sets, as location planning comes in on the front end of a company’s search for space, and is real estate-agnostic, Arledge said. Instead, it’s about labor, demographics, and building data profiles that help companies make geographic decisions.
“What we’ve been able to do is do the site selection, the demographic analysis, the incentives negotiation, and then the real estate piece,” she said. “With 58 offices, we’ll be able to really expand that, and we’ll be able to bring value to other Cresa offices as well.
All of Arledge’s current employees will make the shift to Cresa Dallas.
Langston and Quinn said the shakeup creates opportunities for both sides. Since launching Dillon Corporate Services as a two-man shop, they’ve grown their group to 43.
“We’ve been fortunate to surround ourselves with good people, and that’s how we’ve grown,” Langston said. “It’s not just me and Terry. We feel strongly that our differentiation is our reputation and those of our brokers and how we operate in the marketplace, and that will continue. We are excited about the future.”