Since last January, John G. Russell, 53, has been commuting from his Phoenix home to the Newport Beach headquarters of the newly created Pacific Southwest Region of Grubb & Ellis, one of the nation's largest independent real estate services companies.
As president of the Pacific Southwest Region, Russell is in charge of all Grubb & Ellis operations in his geographical area, including commercial and residential brokerages, property management, appraisal and consulting, real estate investment banking and real estate services. Of Grubb & Ellis' six new operating regions, company officials say that the Pacific Southwest, which includes Southern California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii, is expected to generate the largest sales volume.
Grubb & Ellis, which is based in the Bay Area, handled $6.5 billion in real estate transactions nationally last year and posted earnings of $11.4 million on $215 million in revenue. A break-out of sales and earnings was unavailable for the geographical area now designated as the Pacific Southwest.
Before the company's reorganization in January, each operation had its own manager. Under the new arrangement, Russell said, his job is "to orchestrate synergism and cross-selling" among various operations within his region. Russell now oversees the activities of 800 employees at 32 offices.
In Orange County, Grubb & Ellis was primarily a commercial brokerage operation until last year when it branched into residential resales. It acquired the four offices of Lingo Real Estate and the four offices of MacNabb Irvine Realty Co. Currently, Russell said, the company is also seeking to acquire residential brokerages in Arizona and Los Angeles.
In 1974, three years after he joined Grubb & Ellis, Russell became the company's top commercial real estate salesman. In 1976 he was appointed manager of the company's commercial sales office in Denver, later helping to establish residential and property management operations in that city. He left Denver in 1979 to become vice president and district manager of the company's commercial brokerage office in Phoenix.
Russell said he spends about three days a week at Grubb & Ellis' regional headquarters at Koll Center-Newport. He also maintains a second office in Phoenix, where his family makes its home.
Russell said Grubb & Ellis is negotiating to quintuple the size of its Newport Beach regional office by moving from its 3,000-square-foot facility to 15,000 square feet of space in the Koll Center's Metro Bank Building.