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CHICAGO-Commercial real estate firm Grubb & Ellis has seen a string of recent hires that highlight plans to grow its practices aggressively this year, in spite of economic turmoil. The company plans to take advantage of the market with opportunistic hires, including the four it has announced in the past month.

Shawn Mobley, EVP and managing director of Grubb’s Chicago office, says economic conditions make now the ideal time for the firm to pursue such growth.

“The market is clearly at a down state, but if you’re going to make a move, it’s better to make the move when you don’t have a lot else going on,” Mobley tells GlobeSt.com. “We’ve made a lot of progress in the last four years, never more so than in the last year, and we plan on being very aggressive in growing our practice this year as well. We’re looking at this an opportunity to gain market share.”

Recent hires at Grubb include Paul Lundstedt and John Gavin, which Mobley characterized as two of the most successful investment sales professionals in the Midwest. Hired to Grubb as SVPs in the Institutional Capital Markets Group, the two men were recruited from Cushman & Wakefield, where they worked as executive directors with the company’s capital markets group. Lundstedt and Gavin represented the 41st and 42nd senior level brokers to join Grubb in the past six months.

“In a full market, people don’t do a lot of career reflection, but when times are slow, everyone takes this as a time to evaluate what they’re doing and why they’re doing it,” Mobley says. “That’s given us the opportunity to talk to a lot of people we’ve identified as true market leaders in each discipline, and never have we had more people talking about joining us. Fortunately, our sales professionals are our best recruiters and it’s through our existing staff that we get the majority of our interest from other people.”

Also recently recruited by Grubb was Justin Stanley, hired as SVP and director of sales, who was formerly CFO with Staubach Midwest LLC previous to the company’s merger with Jones Lang LaSalle last summer. Most recently, Hansel Bradley joined Grubb as VP with the National Data Center Practice, coming from work as senior project manager at Digital Realty Trust. Mobley says the firm is currently at about 74 brokerage professionals and could grow into the 80s by the year’s end.

“There are some specific areas we’re going to look to grow, for example our industrial platform is a high-focused area for us right now,” Mobley says. “We’ll look to add services that support our new investment sales platform, and look to add sale-leaseback and debt specialists to our group.”

Despite the challenges the retail market is facing right now, Mobley says Grubb may also move to grow that sector, citing the cyclical nature and an expectation that retail will make a comeback in the near future.

“As we get bigger, it’s more important that we have the right resources internally and externally,” Mobley says of the recent hires. “Our main focus is on these attention-grabbing market-leading type of professionals, the few people in each of these disciplines that dominate and have high value-add relationships.”

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