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DALLAS-Vowing to become Dallas/Fort Worth’s next major player, two top-producing brokers have joined forces to set up a market inroad for Lee & Associates, which has been looking to break into the region for two years.

Though they aren’t saying when talks began, seasoned vets Trey Fricke and Ken Wesson are opening doors on an 8,000-sf office at 5050 Quorum in Dallas. Lee & Associates offices are independently owned and operated by its principals, titles that now belong to Fricke and Wesson. The Lee & Associates Dallas/Fort Worth team immediately will include Conrad Madsen and Mark Graybill, both of whom have worked side by side with Fricke for the past four years at NAI Stoneleigh Huff Brous McDowell, which recently merged with Houston-based Transwestern Commercial Services. More brokers will come on board at the start of the new year, says Ken Wesson, who exited Dallas-based Bradford Cos. after nearly eight years to steer the rollout.

Fricke, formerly an NAI principal, and Wesson, Bradford’s executive vice president and managing director, tell GlobeSt.com that they’ll begin 2006 with a third-party portfolio in excess of three million sf. But, that’s just the beginning. “We’re going to be a major player,” Wesson says.

“Our goal is to grow slowly but surely with quality brokers,” Fricke adds, “and reach 30 to 40 brokers as time allows.” By the first quarter’s close, the projection is the office will be manned by seven to 10 seasoned brokers, focused on tenant and landlord representation and corporate services.

Since 2003, Stein J. Koss, principal in Lee & Associates Arizona, has quarterbacked the search to seat an experienced team in Dallas/Fort Worth. He says Wesson and Fricke are bringing “80% to 90% of their business with them.”

Fricke had the advantage of timing his exit with the local merger. But at this week’s events, industry veterans were buzzing about Wesson’s exit. For six years running, Wesson was Bradford’s top producer. Fricke, also one of the region’s heavy hitters, oversaw NAI Stoneleigh Huff Brous McDowell’s Dallas industrial group.

“Ken wanted an ownership position in the entity where he chose to be employed,” explains Kevin Santaularia, president of Bradford Cos. “Stock ownership in Bradford was not available. In essence, he elected to make a career move and take an interest in an affiliate of Lee & Associates of California. We wish him well. I’m sure he’ll have great success in that platform.”

With the DFW launch, Lee & Associates now has 27 offices in eight states. Earlier this year, the SoCal-based brokerage firm had an office open in Teterboro, NJ. “Dallas was a natural,” Koss says. Last year, it was St. Louis and before that, Chicago. “There are three other markets that we’re trying to penetrate,” he says, careful not to say just where, just yet.

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