Broker Tere Blanca has proved over the last four years that bigger isn’t always better.
At the height of the recession, Blanca left her job running the South Florida offices for Cushman & Wakefield in 2009 to start her own firm Blanca Commercial Real Estate. She started the firm with broker Danet Linares and their first major project: leasing the1450 Brickell office building. That first year, Blanca’s firm rang up $50 million in transactions.
Today, Blanca Commercial Real Estate has 11 employees, including six brokers plus Blanca. The firm’s focus is office leasing, with about a dozen listings in every major sub-market from 407 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach to One Park Square in Doral. Blanca also represented The Miami Herald on its search for a new home, along with other clients Discovery Latin America, Baker & McKenzie law firm and Compuquip. Last year, the firm exceeded $240 million in transactions, with a mix of tenant and landlord representation, as well as land and investment sales.
At time when most institutions typically prefer to deal with national firms, Blanca touts the advantages of a boutique approach.
“We are flexible to the point where we can turn on a dime and accommodate a client,” Blanca said. “Global firms can’t do that — they are bound to their corporate infrastructure.”
We asked Blanca to share some of her thoughts about starting her own business, the Miami real estate market and more. Here are her written answers:
Q: When you started your own company in March 2009 in the midst of the recession, many people thought it was a risky move. What drove you to make the switch?
I launched Blanca Commercial Real Estate in part because I missed being fully engaged in the day to day work with clients, be it developing marketing and leasing strategies on behalf of landlords, or advising tenants looking to match their business needs with the right space. That kind of relationship with the client has always fueled my passion for this business. I wanted to get back to my roots and grow a business from the ground up.
Q: Your company has taken accounts from many of your larger competitors, including your former employer. How have you managed that?
I have worked at global firms — they have huge resources and throw all kinds of services at the client. That appeals to some clients, but we have found that many users and owners of real estate want to know that their brokerage team has a deep bench, is experienced, knows the market, has access, is professional and delivers results. That’s what we bring to every client relationship, and that’s why we’re winning assignments and growing as a firm.
Q: You are known in the industry as being a tough negotiator and one who doesn’t share information with other brokers. Is that reputation fair or not?
I’d like to think I have a reputation for getting the most favorable result for our clients, and at the same time making sure that a deal is a win-win for both sides. I’m as hungry today as I was 25 years ago when I started. Negotiating is part of business, part of life. It’s in my DNA.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an entrepreneur and owning your own business for the first time in your career?
It’s a balancing act. There are simply not enough hours in the day. I have two awesome daughters and a loving husband. They always come first. But it’s true what they say about owning a business – it becomes your baby, and you have to care for it every single day. It’s my personal time that suffers the most.