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Lee & Associates adds new layer to commercial real estate industry

From left, Brian Knowles, Jack Shepley and John Van Buskirk - (Photo / Submitted)

Familiar names have long held steady on the list of Central Pennsylvania’s top commercial real estate agencies.

Make room for a new name: Lee & Associates of Eastern Pennsylvania LLC, which is opening its first commonwealth office, one in a series of recent East Coast expansion moves for one of the country’s largest broker-owned commercial real estate firms.

With veteran industrial services professionals Brian Knowles, Jack Shepley and John Van Buskirk at the helm locally — the latter two formerly of top midstate firm NAI CIR — Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services’ Pennsylvania office is taking aim at the region’s upper echelon.

NAI CIR finished 2014 with more than $454 million in local sales and leases, more than $200 million ahead of No. 2 firm Landmark Commercial Realty Inc., according to Business Journal records.

“Our goal is to be a tier one operation as soon as possible in every vertical market we’re in,” Knowles said. Lee & Associates of Eastern Pennsylvania will cover Central Pennsylvania, out west to the Interstate 99 corridor, east to suburban Philadelphia and New Jersey, up to New York and south into Delaware.

The industrial market will be the early focus for the regional Lee & Associates office, based in Lower Allen Township. Out of the gate, it’s marketing a proposed two-building, 2-million-square-foot logistics distribution center in the Carlisle area for Goodman Birtcher.

Meanwhile, the principals are working quickly to expand talent in other major asset classes, including office, retail, multifamily and investment sales.

RELATED: Veteran brokers lead Pa. expansion for California real estate firm

Knowles and Van Buskirk previously worked together at Jones Lang LaSalle, where they were tasked with building a regional real estate brokerage team. Shepley and Van Buskirk founded the Industrial Properties Group at NAI CIR. Now, they are looking to recruit other seasoned professionals in a competitive commercial market, which has fewer agents compared with residential.

“We will be challenged to build this out,” Van Buskirk said.

Lee & Associates also is designing an entry-level program to target recent college graduates and other young nonresidential agents who are looking for that next career move, he added. “We think we have a powerful story.”

‘Long runway’

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