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DALLAS-The eyes of Texas, or in this case Dallas-Ft. Worth, are on Insignia/ESG’s feverish hiring spree from competitors’ ranks as the in-place team chases leasing assignments to make up for ground lost in 2001.

The latest hire is Trammell Crow Co. veteran Mary Anne Dunn. The former vice president of national marketing services is Insignia’s director of communications, a new position for the Dallas operation. On Jan. 7, Insignia intends to reveal the identity of its new property management director and shortly thereafter another high-profile hire will climb aboard the Insignia steamroller. Phil Baker, Insignia’s executive director in Dallas, says he can’t disclose the third newcomer’s position due to internal shifts that are being made for the incoming executive.

As Baker builds the team, those in place are chasing leasing assignments to make up for this year’s loss of the 450,000-sf Centrum at 3102 Oak Lawn in Dallas to Transwestern Commercial Services; the 873,378-sf dual-tower Campbell Centre, also in Dallas, to Trammell Crow; and the 256,535-sf 6565 MacArthur in Las Colinas to Cousins Properties Services LP. Baker won’t tip his hand as yet, but did say a 500,000-sf pact has been inked and two more are imminent. Leasing director Dennis Barnes is in talks with two building owners that could pork up Insignia’s leasing portfolio by another one million sf. “We’re chasing as many as we can,” Baker says. Insignia currently leases two million sf in the region.

“Insignia is going to continue to grow. What I suggest to people is just watch us,” Baker says to GlobeSt.com. That’s just what the DFW’s commercial real estate industry has been doing since Baker sold his firm lock, stock and barrel to Insignia a few months back. Since then, more than 30 brokers from Baker Commercial Realty, Equis and a couple smaller brokerage firms have been absorbed by Insignia’s biggest push in its Dallas history. And, Baker says he’s not done hiring from his competitors’ camps.

The down economy is an apparent breeding ground for discontent. “I’ve never seen anything like it. There are a lot of people out talking,” Baker says of the ongoing personnel shifts in Dallas-Ft. Worth. “People are investigating all their opportunities. We’re an alternative choice.” In the fiercely competitive industry, it’s just not enough to be a big firm, he says.

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