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Close-up: Randy LaChance

With hard work and a bit of luck, Voit salesman rises to the top

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Ask Randy LaChance what it takes to be one of Voit Commercial Brokerage's top salesmen in San Diego and he'll say integrity, honesty, hard work and the ability to cultivate long-term relationships.

"This business is all about repeat business and long-term relationships. Without those you fail. You'll find the most successful brokers have the best long-standing relationships --with the right clients."

A little luck along the way doesn't hurt either.

"I got lucky. I didn't know anything about the industry," said LaChance, who lives in Encinitas with his wife, Joan, and their three daughters.

"I didn't even know what commercial real estate was."

He first learned the rewards of sales waiting tables throughout high school and college. He earned his degree in finance and graduated with honors from San Diego State University in 1987. Through an internship program, he enjoyed fraternization of commercial brokers. The combination of numbers and sales clicked and he jumped at the chance to stay in San Diego when Glen Volk, his current partner, offered him a job as a runner -- even though it meant waiting tables that first year to make ends meet.

"It was a tough business," he said.

Voit Commercial Brokerage is a subsidiary of The Voit Cos., a commercial real estate company founded in 1971, which has commercial brokerage, development, and construction divisions throughout Southern California, Nevada and Arizona. Voit Commercial Brokerage specializes in land, retail and industrial leasing services and office, retail, industrial, land and apartment sales.

The Voit Cos. does not release revenues; however, according to a Daily Transcript list of commercial real estate firms ranked by local commercial gross sales, Voit Commercial Brokerage is ranked sixth with $444.71 million in 2006.

La Chance has been with Voit since the San Diego office opened in 1988. Having completed more than 800 transactions totaling 11 million square feet with an estimated value of more than $750 million, he's been as one of Voit's top five commercial brokers 10 years in a row. He was the top producer in the San Diego office in 2001, 2003 and 2006, and was in the top 10 companywide in 1993, 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2006. Last year he was involved in approximately $80 million in transactions.

His primary focus is the sales and leasing of industrial and research and development properties in Kearny Mesa, Miramar and Sorrento Mesa. During his 20-year career he has built a client list of more than 2,000. Many of those on the sales side are small owner-user companies with unrecognizable names, but LaChance also represents over 1 million square feet owned by H.G. Fenton Co., one of San Diego's oldest and largest family-owned real estate holding companies.

He just completed the sale of a 103,000-square-foot, multi-tenant distribution building in Miramar on behalf of CT Realty, which was purchased by Argus Realty for $6 million. He represented B&B Partners LLC in the sale of a 56,350-square-foot, multi-tenant distribution building in Miramar, which fetched a record price for the area when Sebco Inc., a Washington-based real estate investment company, bought it for $7.85 million in October.

In November, he and Volk represented the McGrath Family Trust in negotiating a five-year lease on 19,614 square feet of industrial space in Kearny Mesa to heating and air conditioning giant Carrier for $1.6 million. He is also currently marketing a six-project portfolio valued at approximately $35 million.

LaChance said his success is in large part due to good partnerships, team members and support from Voit.

"It's team effort, so you have to align yourself with the right team and the right clients and the right company," he said. "It's about longevity."

When he started his career, ownership of San Diego's commercial real estate generally was comprised of partnerships, companies, families and tenants in common. During the last decade, however, investment sales business has increased as pension funds, insurance companies and wealthy individuals consider San Diego's commercial real estate market one of the top two income producing investment areas in the country.

Even so, business hasn't changed much.

"The buildings I was leasing 20 years ago are still there -- there've only been a few projects built in my area because there's no land left," he said.

But like many other industries, technology has dramatically changed the way he conducts business.

"I used to have to fill out a P.O. to send a fax," he said, laughing. "If it wasn't for the Treo and the ability to multitask, you can't do enough business today. It's amazing; I'm always at work, which gives you the ability to do more volume."

Incorporating technology, access to e-mail 24/7 and understanding databases has been crucial in allowing him to provide better services to his clients.

"If you're not doing it, and somebody else is -- you won't get the job," he said.

He's an active member and secretary of the local chapter of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, an international professional organization that certifies highly qualified commercial and industrial real estate professionals who adhere to ethical standards and principals, achieve gross fee income requirements set by local chapters, and meet experiential and educational requirements.

"I've had a fortunate career path. I didn't switch companies; I have three kids and 2 million square feet of owners I represent," he said. "I have great partners and a great marriage. I don't know. I got lucky."

James is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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