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[IMGCAP(1)]LOS ANGELES-CB Richard Ellis has hired Jeffrey L. Sharpe and Thomas W. Cherry Jr. as senior vice presidents in the latest in a series of new senior-level additions to its occupier services practice. CBRE execs Chris Ludeman and Steve Swerdlow, president of US brokerage and Western Division president respectively, tell GlobeSt.com that the hiring of Sharpe and Cherry follows the hiring of four other senior level occupier services professionals in the US as part of the L.A.-based firm’s continuing efforts to add top-level talent.

Sharpe and Cherry were both formerly with Cushman & Wakefield. Sharpe is now based in CBRE’s Newport Beach office and Cherry in Downtown Los Angeles.

[IMGCAP(2)]Swerdlow says that, especially in down times like these, “There are opportunities to grow the occupier practice because tenants are keenly interested in what’s going on in the marketplace and how they can enhance their own businesses.” Occupier services includes tenant representation, Ludeman and Swerdlow explain, but it also includes a host of other services designed to assist tenants in operating more efficiently. “Now more than ever, clients are looking for ways to reduce operating expenses,” Swerdlow observes.

According to Ludeman, CBRE’s recent hirings of senior level occupier services professionals reflect both their clients’ increased focus on efficiency and CBRE’s ongoing strategy of analyzing each of its markets and its business lines annually to “determine where we have seams or gaps that we believe need to be filled to either attain or retain a market-leading position.” In today’s economy, Ludeman says, corporate occupiers are trying to manage their real estate capital expenditures, operating costs and other expenses more efficiently.

In the occupier services business, Ludeman explains, clients may not need representation on deals as often as they do in boom times, “but they need our best thinking, advice and experience on reducing operating costs and/or better managing their capital expenditure budgets.” As the economy contracts, if a tenant’s revenues fall, occupier services professionals can help to cushion the blow from reduced revenues by helping to reduce costs.

In bringing on new senior level professionals like Sharpe and Cherry, Swerdlow says, CBRE identifies “people who we think can really take advantage of our platform and who can really elevate their business through our platform.” Other top-level occupier services professionals who have joined CBRE over the months include vice chairman Jeff Ellerman in Dallas; EVPs Peter C. Larkin and Michael B. McShea in Washington, DC; and Raul Campos, managing director of the Palo Alto office and leader of the the Occupier Practice in the Bay Area.

Ludeman points out that it is “probably is not well known” that fully half CBRE’s brokerage revenue in the US comes from tenant rep or occupier services business. He says that adding senior level talent in the segment is part of a US and worldwide strategy in which CBRE in 2007 hired approximately 72 competitors in the US and 270 worldwide who were senior professionals, “each of whom filled a specific role that we identified.” The company slowed that strategy in August or September of last year but by that time had hired more than 60 competitors in the US.

Ludeman also points out that what is known as occupier services today has changed significantly in recent years. In past decades, tenant rep professionals might negotiate a lease for a client and then not work with the client again for years, but now the business involves ongoing interaction with the clients, he explains.

CBRE describes its two newest occupier services SVPs as “two of the industry’s leading corporate transaction professionals.” Cherry and Sharpe bring expertise in lease negotiations, renewals and relocations, building acquisitions and dispositions, sale/leasebacks and build-to-suits, as well as other services related all types of corporate real estate assets, according to Jeff Osborn, managing director and leader of CBRE’s Southern California Occupier Practice.

Cherry served as an executive member of Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Supply Chain Group and as a director in the firm’s West Los Angeles office. Sharpe also held various positions with Cushman & Wakefield, including senior director of brokerage services and vice president of real estate services at its predecessor firm, Cushman Realty Corp.

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