Sometimes the solution is right around the corner
Two neighboring companies swap offices
BKM – 24,000 square feet
CFG – 12,000 square feet
BKM – 6300 Blair Hill Lane, Baltimore, MD
CFG – 1416 Clarkview Road, Baltimore, MD
In mid-2017, Jim Barrett, President of BKM, and Dan Baird, Chief Operating Officer of CFG, both faced a common real estate dilemma. Their respective workspaces were insufficient given the current state of each company. BKM was rapidly outgrowing their single-tenant building at 1416 Clarkview Road and needed a larger, more efficient space. CFG, on the other hand, had recently built a multi-tenant office building at 6300 Blair Hill Lane. Following a pivot in strategy, the company had to locate some employees in another market, resulting in underutilized office space. Although they were neighbors, Jim and Dan were unaware of each other’s respective real estate predicaments; however, they both knew JLL’s Kevin Haus, a former classmate to both Jim and Dan, and he just happened to be an expert on the matter. Kevin, who had represented both BKM and CFG in prior transactions, had a unique perspective on the companies’ issues and formulated an innovative real estate solution. He presented a plan for the companies to physically switch offices. Kevin believed that BKM’s space matched CFG’s specifications and vice versa. It took nearly a year and a half to negotiate the deal and execute a successful move, but by January 2019, each company had a “new” office perfectly suited to their needs.
BKM specializes in the planning and designing of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems. The company previously worked with thousands of clients, including those in the healthcare, education, government and commercial sectors, to deliver tailored engineering solutions with smart and practical designs. The Baltimore-based company’s growth, by organic and acquisitive means, has been impressive, but the company had not given much thought to their real estate strategy until they were forced to reevaluate it. After recently acquiring another company called Tiepoint, BKM hoped to integrate the two under one roof. However, by that point, their one-story office was already crowded, and it was clear that BKM needed to move into a larger space not only to accommodate short-term needs, but also to support their longer-term growth strategy.
Also headquartered in Baltimore, CFG is a full-service provider of financial solutions to healthcare providers across the country, with a focus on assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. A collection of companies, CFG helps clients address their financing needs by offering banking, lending and investment advisory services in a “one-stop shop.” To improve their offerings, CFG had acquired an Indiana-based company that they moved to Baltimore. However, a subsequent merger required many of those functions to work out of another region, leaving CFG with a beautiful, yet underutilized, office on their hands. Although the space had been designed and constructed in a deliberate manner, it no longer aligned with the company’s immediate needs.
Kevin understood the issues Jim and Dan faced and brought an expert’s outside perspective to the table. Given his in-depth knowledge of the market and what each company needed to succeed, Kevin believed an office swap was the optimal solution. Once he proposed the idea to Jim and Dan, the trio began a series of detailed discussions and negotiations that, despite a few hiccups, ultimately resulted in a successful deal. From the onset, Kevin maintained the team’s focus on the end goal and resolved the challenges as they arose with professionalism and tact.
Once the deal was inked, discussions quickly turned to logistics—which were, not surprisingly, a bit complex. Moving any office can be a complicated process but switching two offices at the same time with minimal disruption to business operations posed a different kind of challenge. At Kevin’s recommendation, the teams engaged Rory Etherington and JLL’s Project and Development Services team early on in the process to handle the multifaceted project. Although the two offices were separated by only a driveway, over 100 employees, office equipment and furniture needed to be moved between the two spaces.
Pre-move discussions revealed that furniture moving was a mutual pain point. The solution? Don’t move the furniture. Leadership of both organizations realized that the other’s furniture would work, and leaving the furniture saved significant time and money. Throughout the entire process, Rory and his team took care of everything so that Dan and Jim could focus on the daily demands of their businesses. As a result of the hard work upfront, neither team missed a beat during the three-day move process which occurred right before the New Year.
Beyond the anticipated benefit of being in appropriately sized offices, the two companies continue to uncover additional advantages to their new locations. BKM employees are thriving in the larger location. Although originally designed for CFG, the layout works for BKM. The more open space supports BKM’s focus on transparency with its emphasis on glass and communal areas. They utilize a large common area for monthly company-wide events and frequently enjoy lunch on their private patio. The situation is similar for CFG. The move to a smaller, more intimate space works for them because it physically brings teams closer. Bringing employees onto one floor created a sense of unity that did not exist before. The open layout with larger workstations works for CFG’s culture and employees have adopted the space as their own.
If not for Kevin’s creative thinking, BKM and CFG might still be in less-than-ideal office space. However, today each company is thriving in their respective “new” locations that complement the way in which each company conducts its business and fulfills its mission. Their spaces provide employees with the structures and resources that enable them to do their best work every day. Who knew such a perfect solution was literally right around the corner?