Devencore beefs up its location and site selection capability

Business location and site selection specialist Gregg Wassmansdorf has moved from Colliers International to the Toronto offices of Newmark Knight Frank Devencore.
Wassmansdorf, 44, who is a 14-year veteran of Colliers, founded and built up that firm’s Location Advisory and Incentives practice, something he is now augmenting for Devencore, he said in an interview.
He made the shift to Devencore, the Canadian partner of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, in part to join Newmark’s fast-growing Global Corporate Services team, where he will hold the title of Senior Managing Director, Consulting.
“I’m surrounded by more than 30 professionals, with expertise in workplace strategy, process engineering, supply change and logistics, corporate location strategy, site selection, economic incentives, global portfolio strategy, all of those capabilities under one roof.”
At Newmark Knight Frank Devencore, his primary role will be to select components of the company’s expanded palate of service offerings for corporate clients who are looking to set up shop in new geographies, he said. “Part of my job is really to be an integrator and an innovator, delivering any of that suite of services to our clients depending on their need and finding better and more customized ways of doing that for clients.”
He will report to Robert Hess, the Executive Managing Director, Consulting, of the firm’s global corporate services practice and other executives in the firm’s Atlanta office. The Chicago-based Hess, “has been in this business longer than I have been and is really considered one of the preeminent experts in business location and site selection.”
 
More planes and automobiles
Wassmansdorf has carved out a reputation as a cross-border specialist, which will stand him in good stead at his new outfit, considering that most of his new colleagues in the global corporate services team are based in the U.S. That’s a list of potential clients that include Canadian businesses aiming to set up in the U.S., American firms setting up shop in Canada and global firms entering the North American market.
In addition to his global responsibilities, the Toronto-based specialist, who is LEED-certified, will still be counted on to deliver services in his areas of specialization: business location strategy, site selection and economic incentives for new facilities or consolidations, relocations and private equity investments.
Newmark’s dispersed corporate structure – it has offices in Montreal, Toronto, New York, Chicago and Atlanta, will mean plenty of travel time for its new recruit.
“In the last two weeks I have been in both of the Toronto offices, made plans to go to Montreal, have already been to Atlanta and I have made two other trips to meet with clients. So there is a lot of mobility involved.”
 
Real Advantage for Devencore
Wassmansdorf sees little competition among Canadian real estate advisory firms for the business location and site selection that are at the core of his service offering. “A lot of these services just don’t exist and the Canadian firms will reach out to their U.S. affiliates or parent to find the consulting capability to do that.”
The Devencore specialist can also call on cross-border expertise for major projects, but is somewhat unique as a homegrown specialist.
“Certainly market to market, every real estate agent or broker is themselves a site selection expert but they specialize in their own market,” he said. “With site selection strategy, I am really talking about taking all of the operational and competitive needs and pressures of an organization and looking at the geography of their business, whether it is across a couple of provinces, the whole country or North America or globally, and asking `Where is the best place for you to be operating your business?’”
That simple-sounding procedure involves taking into account potentially crucial variables such as supply chain, labour market analytics, business cost structures, taxes and incentives. “Before you say 'where,' know 'why',” he explained.
As an example, Wassmansdorf cited a Dutch biomaterials company that was intent on entering the North American market. After examining 25 metro markets, they ended up choosing Atlanta as the location for their new facility.
“They wanted a defensible rationale for choosing the new market and that is what we helped them do,” he said.
 
Devencore growing in Canada
Last year, Devencore announced the creation of a new Toronto office dubbed GTA West to service clients in the western part of the Greater Toronto Area. It decided to expand its GTA presence because its 40-person downtown Toronto office was all but full and it wanted to grab a larger share of business from the growing suburban market.
Devencore describes itself as Canada's largest corporate real estate advisor and brokerage, representing corporate, industrial and retail space users. Besides its two Toronto-area offices, it has seven other locations from Halifax to Vancouver.
New York-based Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and its London-based partner Knight Frank operate more than 340 offices in established and emerging property markets on five continents and a combined staff of more than 11,000.



Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

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Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

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