Bronkema Is Booming

GRAND RAPIDS — At least one veteran broker has seen sales and leasing activity pick up in the local industrial real estate market.

Randy Bronkema of S.J. Wisinski & Co. has sold a half-dozen properties and leased a few more within the past several months. That’s been a nice change for him because business in the industrial market has been generally slow for the last two years.

“There are spurts of increases in activity and then it’s dead. It seems to be trying to heat up and then it doesn’t,” he said.

“But I’m very busy. I think that has something to do with me being in the business for 19 years and I have clients that are growing and are successful and they’re doing things. They’re moving because they’re expanding,” he added.

Roughly 5.3 million square feet of vacant industrial space was available at the end of last year, which means that 2005 got started with a vacancy rate of 6 percent — a condition that Bronkema felt was the worst he’s seen at anytime during his career.

“There is probably more space on the market right now than I’ve ever seen in 19 years, and I think there is more on the market than what is being reported by some of the real estate firms here,” he said.

“All you have to do is drive through some of these industrial areas and you’ll see signs on a vast amount of buildings. In some areas, there are ‘available’ signs on every building,” he said, while noting that lease prices are the same today as a decade ago because supply is so much higher than demand.

Even though there is too much space available on the market today for almost everyone’s taste, there isn’t as much vacant property as there could be due to Bronkema’s recent good run.

He just finished selling a dozen acres in the SouthbeltIndustrial Park, at

Patterson Avenue


68th Street

in CaledoniaTownship, to the Michigan Electronic Transmission Corp. The Ann Arbor-based firm plans to build an operations center and offices on the property.

Another client of Bronkema’s is putting up a 21,000-square-foot building in the same park. What makes this transaction even more interesting, though, is the structure is being built for a new tool- and-die business.

“That is pretty rare around here because most tool-and-dies are closing,” he said.

Bronkema sold another 13 acres on

Rusche Drive NW

, just north and east of

Six Mile Road

in Alpine Township, to Weekes Forest Products. Weekes, which distributes wooden trusses, recently moved into a 30,000-square-foot building that it built on the site.

“They were in a leased building and decided they wanted to own and were looking for some land near rail so they could bring in the large wood trusses that they sell. I scoured the countryside and found a site that wasn’t on the market that they ended up buying,” he said.

Then Bronkema sold a 15,000-square-foot building at Madison Avenue and

32nd Street SW

in Wyoming to Universal Brick and Stone, a relatively new and growing company that offers specialty stone, brick and landscape materials to the residential market.

He also sold a 38,000-square-foot building on

Clydon Avenue SW

in Wyoming to Wholesale Tire, which came here from Detroit 10 years ago and has grown since then. Wholesale Tire previously leased a 25,000-square-foot building, also in Wyoming, and needed more room.

“Actually, they’ve been looking to buy for the last six years but were never able to find a good building,” he said. “But now that there seems to be an excess in the market, it made for an opportunity. That’s the upside (of the current market). There was a vacancy and they were able to buy it.”

Although this deal hasn’t closed yet, Bronkema just sold 24 acres at

Patterson Avenue


40th Street SE

in Kentwood to Advance Packaging. The property is near a rail line, which makes the delivery of paper more convenient and efficient for the firm. Advance Packaging plans to construct a huge 400,000-square-foot building on the property.

Bronkema also recently leased nearly 96,000 square feet in the former BoschBuilding at

Broadmoor Avenue


44th Street SE

to Intertek Entela, a local testing firm that was purchased by a British company a few years ago. Intertek is in three buildings and plans to consolidate operations at its new location, which is large enough to accommodate future growth.

“I just put their

three Madison Avenue

buildings on the market for sale. They’re probably going to be moving at the end of the year,” he said.

Bronkema said he was close to closing on a lease with an international chemical company for 30,000 square feet of space on

36th Street SE

in CascadeTownship. The firm will use the building as a major distribution center with offices. Bronkema also leased a 6,000-square-foot building to an auto body shop on

44th Street SW

in Wyoming

“I’ve been busy lately with industrial. I’ll tell you, my world is rocking,” he said.

“I think it’s because I have very good clients that are growing and doing things, and I’ve been working hard.”    

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