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SEATTLE-Locally based Kidder Mathews, the largest commercial brokerage firm in Washington State, is reaching further down the West Coast. Three years after expanding to Portland, OR, the five-office, 120-broker firm has merged with Whitney Cressman, a longtime Bay Area brokerage firm with one office in Downtown San Francisco.

GVA Kidder Mathews CEO Jeffrey Lyon tells GlobeSt.com that as a result of the merger the two principals of Whitney Cressman–Leland Whitney and Stan Cohn–are now shareholders of GVA Kidder Mathews. Next month, GVA Whitney Cressman will be re-branded as a GVA Kidder Mathews office. Neither of the Whitney Cressman principals was immediately available Friday morning for comment.

“It will make us stronger as a combined company and as a market leader having one brand,” Lyon says. “Because of our market position and the depth of resources we are brining to the table, it made sense to make [that one brand] GVA Kidder Mathews.”

The news comes six months after GVA Kidder Mathews CEO Jeffrey Lyon told GlobeSt.com that the success of the company’s expansion into Portland–the office now has 34 people–had convinced him that the Kidder platform could be successful outside the Puget Sound marketplace. He didn’t pinpoint any locations, saying only that it would be in West Coast markets where GVA does not already have a partner and that “there is a probability that something could happen this year.” GlobeSt.com went on to report that the Bay Area would be a logical move since Whitney Cressman only had one office in San Francisco, leaving open the East Bay, Silicon Valley and Sacramento markets.

The news is not only good for the two Whitney Cressman principals but also good for the brokers as well. Lyon says that as of Jan. 1, Whitney Cressman will be switching to the Kidder Mathews platform, which will result in higher splits for the brokers. Under the new platform, brokers will get to keep 90% of the commission once they top $125,000, which is better than they have now, Lyon says.

“The first thing you’ve got to do is keep the talent,” he says. “They’ve got a strong base of agents.”

The next thing on the list will be to expand. The merger will immediately grow GVA’s presence in California, with the San Francisco office adding about 40% more office space to its current location at Two Transamerica Center (505 Sansome St.). The space will be used to add brokers, which the company is currently recruiting, as well as, property management and appraisal services.

As for expansion into additional Bay Area markets, Lyons says he will be opportunistic. “I would like to do another Portland,” he says, referring to finding local brokers who want to break away from their current situation and open an office under the Kidder Mathews name. “As we talk [to brokers about joining the San Francisco office] there might be a group that says ‘hey, I want to do something’; if that comes up and it’s the right fit, we will do it.”

Generally speaking, Lyon says that if they can expand into a new market every 18 months to two years that would be good, with the goal being four or five additional offices in the region. “But if the right opportunity arises, we would do it more quickly,” he adds.

Whitney Cressman and Kidder Mathews are not new to each other. Since the two both became affiliates of GVA, they have been assisting each other with clients that are doing business in the others’ market. That got the principals started talking, and at some point several months back Lyon says the principals at Whitney Cressman began thinking about broadening their base of ownership similar to Kidder Mathews, which has dozens of shareholders both within and outside the company.

“I said if you are really looking to do something, why don’t we talk about doing something bigger on the West Coast together,” Lyon says. “It grew from there.”

Whitney established the firm bearing his name in 1974. The firm became an affiliate of GVA in 2002. Kidder Mathews was launched in 1969 by Jerry Mathews and partners Bill Kidder and Bob James. The company now has about 70 shareholders and more than 250 employees. Mathews recently stepped down as chairman to become chairman emeritus, but continues to serve on the firm’s strategic planning and compensation committees.

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