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Close-Up: Brad Roppé

'Recovering attorney' takes up commercial investment and sales

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Using litigation skills from his former days as a lawyer, Brad Roppé now hones in on his power of persuasion, once used on a judge and jury, to rope brokers and agents into joining his successful commercial real estate company.

Brad Roppé, president of the Carlsbad office of Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services, looks for "innate competitiveness" in his staff, and said his company is aggressively seeking out new markets.

President of the Carlsbad office of Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services and member of its board of directors, Roppé manages the 28-member team with both an easygoing manner and drive for success.

"As far as I am concerned we got the best," said Patrick Miller, firm co-founder.

While interviewing Roppé for the position, Miller found him to be personable, outgoing and in possession of a great business sense, something he wasn't expecting in a former lawyer -- or "recovering attorney," as the firm members like to call him.

"We talked a lot about the vision for the company and how he feels about running an organization comprised of very independent people," Miller recalled. "He went through an extensive interviewing process. I knew he would be good, but I didn't know he would be this good."

Roppé said what he looks for in his workers is an "innate competitiveness ... which results in success." In July, Roppé was instrumental in opening a new office in the University City area of San Diego, hiring 18 new agents.

Lee Licensing LLC, the umbrella company for Lee and Associates, has dozens of offices throughout the country, in Arizona, Nevada, Illinois, Wisconsin and New Jersey, and in California in University Towne Center, Irvine, Newport and Anaheim.

Each office has "autonomy," explained Roppé, and the brokers run their office "as they see fit."

"There is no corporate umbrella making decisions on how the offices run," he said.

What makes Lee Licensing LLC different from other commercial real estate companies is the profit sharing numbers.

Generally brokers receive 40 percent to 50 percent of profit from the sale, with the remainder going to the shareholders. At Lee & Associates, brokers can receive up to 80 percent of the profit.

Bill Lee, founder of the company, wanted the format to allow brokers to become company owners or shareholders. Their vested interest in the company might then encourage the brokers to commit themselves fully to the project and the client. Brokers are also given the opportunity to broker a deal outside their regional location if they see a viable property.

"There are no geographical restrictions when dealing with a potential client," Roppé said. "But we will also bring in other Lee & Associate brokers who happen to be in that particular neighborhood to work with us on the deal."

Roppé's position does not focus in on the wheeling and dealings between his brokers and their clients, but the underlying interest for the company itself keeps him abreast of all their transactions, including the Pacific Coast Business Park in Oceanside.

The company closed the deal in 2004 on the $250 million venture for partners The Monarch Group of La Jolla, DWO Enterprises of Solana Beach and Guthrie Development of Orange. The 152-acre project, off of College Avenue and Old Grove Road, will include space for research and development, manufacturing and offices. Construction will be done in phases and completed within the next few years.

Although the residential real estate market may be on shaky ground nowadays, commercial investment and sales continues to thrive for Lee & Associates. The company hopes to open markets in Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and other major East Coast cities.

"We have aggressive brokers who are overturning every rock," Roppé said. "They really have their hand in the market and what is valuable right now."

When he is not overseeing the million-dollar company, the 37-year-old enjoys golfing, snowboarding, surfing and spending time with his wife, Laura, and two children, Sophie and Chloe.

A third-generation San Diegan, Roppé majored in political science at San Diego State University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1995.

He worked in litigation for five years but found the law field to be too combative for his easygoing and friendly personality. Roppé then accepted a job with Stewart Title in its business development department. After two years he decided to pursue something "more challenging" and was recruited by Larry Strickland of Lee & Associates to manage his Carlsbad office.

Although not familiar with the commercial real estate field, Roppé had made several real estate connections while at Stewart Title and knew who the players were in San Diego.

"When I first joined Lee & Associates, they were out recruiting agents. Now agents come to us because they know how we run our company," Roppé said.

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