Real estate firm sees spike in staff


Bridgewater Place overlooks the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids and is the city’s largest officer tower. Courtesy Colliers

It’s likely a good economic sign when one of the region’s largest commercial real estate firms sees a one-third increase in its staff.

Colliers International West Michigan in Grand Rapids recently said that it has grown its staff by 32 percent in the last 12 months, adding about 19 employees.

About 16 of those new hires came after Colliers moved out of its 19-year home in Grand Rapids last summer — on the third and fourth floors of the building at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW — and across the Grand River into a 17,598-square-foot space on the 12th floor of Bridgewater Place, at 333 Bridge St. NW.

The new space on the west side and the current boom in West Michigan’s real estate industry are certainly helping retain and attract new employees, said Jamie Stiles, director of operations, Colliers.

“We moved into this space knowing there would be room to grow and that is exactly what we are doing,” Stiles said. “People are excited about what is happening in the West Michigan area, particularly regarding real estate. . . . A greater demand has created the opportunity to grow within.”

Colliers plans to continue growing this year and is expecting to hire about three more employees this spring.

Trainee pipeline

As part of its growth, Colliers recently launched its Colliers 360° Training Program, a 13-week paid internship program designed to “provide an opportunity for those interested in the real estate industry to be chartered a career path” into a role at the firm.

Interns begin working with the research, marketing and property management departments, before working with a mentor in a specialty group of either investment, industrial, office or retail.

After the 13 weeks, interns spend about six months in a specialty group, working with a mentor, before receiving their real estate license and spending another three-to-six months working as a junior advisor or associate and becoming full-time.

“Once I decided I wanted to start my career in commercial real estate, the decision was pretty simple,” said Jeff Hainer, research analyst, Colliers, citing the firm’s reputation in the industry. “I knew deep down that it was where I wanted to be.” 

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