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DALLAS-Insignia/ESG Inc. successfully wooed Baker Commercial Realty Inc. of Irving and now it’s the new leader’s turn to court. Phil Baker, Insignia/ESG’s new executive director, tells GlobeSt.com that within 30 days the Dallas team will add two high-profile hires to the family.

Baker has spent the past several weeks scouting for brokers to join the Insignia/ESG fold. Like others, he says there are lots out looking for more fertile ground and new challenges–a historic indicator of a tumultuous market. For now, all he’s telling is that he is playing suitor to two well-known names in office and management and operations. More brokers will follow as Baker puts together a team to “try to explode” every facet of leasing, tenant representation and sales.

But it’s first things first. And first comes this morning’s rally, attended by corporate chiefs, where Baker’s 16 brokers meet Insignia’s Dallas staff. Michael O’Hanlon, who headed Insignia’s Dallas office, will be a senior member and one of 26 tenant representatives lobbying for more business in Dallas-Ft. Worth. “We consider him a valuable part of the Insignia solution,” emphasizes Baker, adding that O’Hanlon holds some key accounts.

Baker said he wasn’t looking for a buyer when Insignia approached with the offer about six months ago. In fact, he turned down other offers for his 11-year-old firm and initially was sort of blase about this one. Due diligence showed “it was a perfect fit,” he says.

The usual confidentiality pact bars disclosing the acquisition price, but, Baker confides, talks turned serious a couple months ago when Insignia dangled the executive director’s position. “It was,” he admits, “a very attractive transaction.”

It has yet to be decided who gets what title on the combined team, save for Randy Cooper. What has been decided is that Baker is looking to double Insignia’s business. The magnifying glass will be on tenant rep, one of the Insignia Dallas team’s weaker areas and Baker’s strongest. He’s not talking what Insignia’s dollar volume is, but he says he will be surprised if it isn’t doubled in the next year or so. “We will take the talent and the resources we have to really grow the company,” he says. “And, it can happen if we all act as a team.”

Baker brings leasing assignments of slightly less than one million sf to Insignia’s current five million sf. More importantly, it brings a foothold in Las Colinas, where Insignia this year lost some top leasing assignments. It’s a classic win-win for everyone, particularly since Las Colinas is where Baker Commercial got its start, has its largest presence and is a tenant rep leader, thanks to its founder. For those who don’t know, Phil Baker has been plying his trade in the upscale submarket since 1978 and once served as executive vice president of Las Colinas Corp., the community’s original developer.

Baker, his assistant and secretary will relocate in the next week to Insignia’s office at Mac-Cali’s 3100 Monticello in Dallas. Down the road, even that might change as Baker contemplates the need for more space. The Insignia space houses the central region accounting office, occupying about 20,000 sf of the 30,000-sf leased site. In the next 30 to 45 days, the rest of the Baker team will follow their leader from a 7,500-sf office in Las Colinas’ MacArthur Ridge Phase II and one of Baker’s third-party assignments.

Without missing a beat with the change, Baker’s office phones were being answered Insignia/ESG as soon as the announcment was made public yesterday morning. Baker says his brokerage team reacted very positively to the takeover and is as impressed with Insignia’s global presence as he was. Two brokers have left, but that was due to attrition and nothing else, he says.

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