Revived Schneider Real Estate Continues Its Recovery

Times Staff Writer

A year after "being measured for a coffin," Schneider Commercial Real Estate says it is doing well enough to have acquired another real estate brokerage.

Schneider bought Swartz Investments Inc. in Orange for an undisclosed amount, just a year after Schneider itself was sold by its parent company when profits lagged.

Swartz acquires and sells shopping centers and offices for investors, which should help Schneider get more business in those markets, a Schneider executive said.

The acquisition "further strengthens our efforts in the shopping center and office building investment niche," said James R. Kruse, a Schneider senior vice president.

Schneider has been known until recently primarily for leasing or selling small industrial buildings.

The acquisition of Swartz last month, the company says, is evidence it has turned around.

A year ago "people were measuring us for coffins," said Kruse. "Now we've completed our first year of operations profitably and have our first acquisition under our belt."

The brokerage's former parent company--the Pittsburgh construction and engineering firm Schneider Inc.--sold the brokerage in May, 1988, to six executives for an undisclosed sum.

Schneider had lost money the previous year. The money problems brought other troubles: Some of Schneider's brokers were defecting to more prosperous companies. And, insiders said, the small brokerage had never found a niche in the market to protect it from competition with the county's two biggest commercial real estate brokers, Coldwell Banker and Grubb & Ellis.

Now the drain of brokers from Schneider to its rivals has been stemmed, said Kruse, one of the executives who bought the company last year. "On our best day last year we had only 19 brokers in the Anaheim office, and now we've got 26," he said.

"And we'll soon be up to 33."

That will move Schneider up to a comparable size with the half-dozen or so brokers that are just one step below Coldwell Banker and Grubb & Ellis in size, Kruse said.

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