It's East Shore versus West Shore — sort of.
Hampden Township-based Keller Williams of Central PA, as of June 1, has expanded to nonresidential services with the launch of KW Commercial, a growing division that North America’s largest real estate franchise company added in 2008.
The Cumberland County expansion comes on the heels of a KW Commercial presence established last year in the Lower Paxton Township office of Keller Williams of Central PA East.
“We’re developing a strategy with everyone as to what is the best way to compete in the capital area market,” said David Specht, commercial regional director for KW Commercial, a market that includes Delaware, southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The Hampden Township office has hired veteran commercial and industrial agent Jim Helsel Jr., owner of Camp Hill-based Helsel Inc., to lead the effort.
“He is a guy everyone in the country knows. It brings instant credibility,” said Ed Blum, team leader of the West Shore office, referring to Helsel.
Helsel Inc. is a family-run business started in 1929. Helsel has been president and owner since 1975.
He also is a past treasurer of the National Association of Realtors and past president of both the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors and the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors.
“Finding people with his credentials, with his reputation and exposure to the national marketplace, there are not too many people around like that,” Blum added.
The new KW Commercial division is actively recruiting agents. The goal is 10 to 12 hires by the end of the year, Blum said.
“Because my business is all nonresidential, there wasn’t an initial allure to come to KW,” said Helsel, who plans to maintain his company.
He added that he has watched the company grow and felt he could bring a lot of practical and institutional knowledge to build the name in Central Pennsylvania.
There is a lot of support for opening a larger centralized office that all Harrisburg area agents would work out of in the near future, Specht said. Plans have yet to be formalized.
“My hope and expectation is we’ll all work together,” he said. “We have an opportunity here to carve out our commercial niche and take it to the next level.”
There are six KW Commercial agents in the midstate right now, he added. The company hopes to expand that to 15 or more over the next six to 12 months, he said.
KW Commercial intends to focus its Central Pennsylvania operations from State College to York and Lancaster with Harrisburg at the center, Specht said: “It’s safe to say that over the next couple of months we’re going to be able to finalize our (office) plans.”