(Carl Cronan is editor of RealEstate Florida.)

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Damien Madsen and Greg Morrison have known each other for thelast 25 years, back to their college days when they sold books doorto door. Both went on to work in commercial real estate but neverworked together, until now.

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Madsen, a local veteran of commercial development and brokerage,has joined Orlando-based Morrison Commercial Real Estate, whichMorrison launched just last year. Both have more than two decadesexperience, yet it was those days of selling books under a brutalsummer sun that forged a lifelong partnership.

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"It just felt right to go into business with him," Madsen tellsReal Estate Florida of his roommate at the University ofCentral Florida. "It is sometimes more fun to build a business thanto go to one that has already been built by someone else. Gettingthere is sometimes better than being there."

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Morrison, who was previously executive director of GVA Advantisin Orlando before starting his own boutique firm, says he wants tobuild a business that will be more responsive to clients thanlarger firms, in both landlord and tenant representation. He saysbringing Madsen on board will be key to executing those plans.

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"I trust Damien," Morrison says, recalling how they earnedroughly $1,000 a week during their book-selling days in 1983. "It'svery challenging work, but you understand what kind of work ethicand character someone has in those times."

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Madsen has completed nearly three million sf of transactionsvalued at $750 million throughout his career, which has includedsenior and executive positions with companies such as HarbertRealty Services and Flagler Development Co. He is credited withstarting SouthPark Center, a nine-building office complex totaling1.3 million sf that is recognized as one of the state's mostsuccessful business parks.

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His most recent position, as senior partner with Broad StreetPartners, ended abruptly this past summer when the company'smanaging director, Steve Walsh, committed suicide. A lawsuit wasbrought against Walsh's estate shortly thereafter, accusing themultifamily developer of stealing millions of dollars frominvestors.

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Madsen declines to discuss his association with the defunctfirm, though he does say that the experience prompted him to getback into brokerage. He looked at a number of local companiesbefore reconnecting with Morrison."Based on my track record, Icould have gone anywhere in town to work," Madsen says. "I saw thisas a good opportunity to build a business with Greg."

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Morrison says his firm has built a leasing portfolio of at least1.5 million sf over the past year with several high-qualityclients. Despite current economic conditions, he and Madsen areconfident that their platform will be highly competitive andformidable in the Orlando market.

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"I think the timing for this couldn't be better," Madsen says."It's a bad time right now, but it can't be bad forever."

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