Meet Yvonne Baker, who joined the Franklin Street commercial real estate services firm more than a year ago as regional managing partner with more than 25 years of experience. She has been hiring and intends to more than double the staff of the Jacksonville office to 19 professionals within the next year.
We’re doing a person-by-person search to make sure we find the right people in the right position at the right time. We’re looking for people who really share in our vision of hard work, collaboration, integrity and ethics. It’s a great opportunity for brokers, producers and administrative staff to be with somebody like Franklin Street.
I’m based in Orlando but I’m in Jacksonville every week for two or three days. They’re two very different cities, but two very similar cities in that it’s still very local. You have a lot of outsiders coming in, but it’s still very much controlled by the local people who’ve been in business for a really long time. I find in Jacksonville as well as Orlando there’s a core group of brokers and developers who are doing a majority of the deals, and so you really create that sense of community and family with those folks that you’re competing against and those people that you’re trying to build business with.
I see great things for Jacksonville. Rents are rising, occupancies are dropping, it’s surpassing the United States in job growth, and there’s nothing but good for Jacksonville. We think there’s nothing but good for us as well. This is absolutely the market that we plan to grow in. Our company is more than 10 years old and we’ve had an office here for seven years, so it’s very much been a part of our growth from the beginning.
When I first got in the business, we typed our leases on a typewriter and we used Wite-Out and we used carbon paper, so I think that alone is indicative of how significantly it’s changed. Another big change is that I could stand in the parking lot of an office building and talk to a tenant and their broker and strike a deal and shake hands, go back to my office and commit that we’re going to do a transaction. Today, things are much more sophisticated and take a much longer period of time. There’s more analysis.
Since we are growing both markets, I work a lot. And I travel. We enjoy traveling internationally. I could live in Italy. San Francisco’s not bad as well. I like the beautiful architecture. That’s kind of the fascination I have with real estate is how do you take a building and repurpose it for so many different uses. With every piece of real estate, there’s a different vision for every single person that looks at it. We each bring our own individual heart and soul to it.