Colliers declares legal action against former advisers

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Advantage Commercial Real Estate principals, from left, are: Mark Ansara, John Kuiper, Tim Van Noord, David Rapp, Duke Suwyn, Steve Marcusse, Michael Visser, Gary Albrecht, Trent Wieringa and Mike Murray. Courtesy Advantage Commercial Real Estate Services

Colliers International U.S. announced it has commenced proceedings against the group of senior brokers who recently departed to form their own firm, Advantage Commercial Real Estate Services.

Duke Suwyn, John Kuiper, Gary Albrecht, Mark Ansara, Steven Marcusse, Michael Murray, David Rapp, Timothy Van Noord, Michael Visser and Trenton Wieringa recently split from Colliers to form Advantage Commercial Real Estate, which was designed to provide a hyper-local focus for West Michigan real estate services.

Several of these brokers were the majority owners of the firm that Colliers acquired in 2016 to strengthen its presence in West Michigan.

The claims against Advantage Commercial Real Estate include breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference, misappropriation of trade secrets and material breaches of contractual terms relating to the taking of confidential information and unlawful solicitation of Colliers professionals.

“Colliers is a global leader with one of the strongest real estate services platforms in Western Michigan,” said Jon Potvin, managing director of Colliers West Michigan. “Our highly respected brand and ongoing investments in people and market intelligence is the clear difference that enables us to better assist our clients with their most important real estate challenges, particularly in these difficult times.”

The legal proceedings set a different tone than when the Business Journal interviewed Kuiper in January regarding the formation of Advantage Commercial Real Estate. Kuiper, who is now CEO and industrial adviser for Advantage, said he expressed no animosity toward Colliers, and the decision to form a separate firm was to “satisfy an entrepreneurial spirit and create something that’s local and allows them to quickly and creatively respond to clients’ needs.”

“We have no intention of having anything but positive feelings about our time there,” Kuiper said in January. “This is us pursuing a mindset and a dream. … It’s a difficult time. You form great friendships, but for what it’s worth, we want to keep it positive.”

Neither Colliers nor Advantage responded to requests for further comment.

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