Founded in 1962 as Echols & Lynn by the late Dallas real estate icon Robert Lynn, NAI Robert Lynn is one of the largest independent commercial real estate services companies in North Texas. In 2020, the Company completed 1,025 sale and lease transactions totaling more than 27 million square feet.
On the occasion of NAI Robert Lynn’s 60th anniversary, President Mark Miller sat down with him D Managing Director Discuss the past, present and future of the company.
D Managing Director: When the company turns 60, you will be there for more than half of it – 33 years. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen?
To mark Miller: “When I started we had maybe 10 agents, all specialized in industry. Today we are closer to 70 brokers in all sectors. It’s significant growth, but for us it’s been incremental, strategic growth. My partner, George Dutter, is an amazing ops guy. Today we probably have 10 or 12 other partners in the firm.”
D Managing Director: How has the company evolved since becoming part of NAI and expanding into different sectors outside of industry?
miller: “At this point, industrial transactions account for less than 50 percent of the total transactions we do in a year. For example, in 2021 we carried out more than 350 office transactions. And about 15 percent of the business is now outside of Dallas. It gives us a great opportunity to work with our clients when they have requirements outside of Dallas and to work with NAI brokers across the country. We know that if we go to New York, LA or Chicago, wherever a client is looking, we have someone there who knows the market inside out.”
D Managing Director: How has Robert Lynn’s legacy and the corporate culture he helped create survived over the years?
miller: “When I was hired in the late 1980’s I was fortunate to be able to hit the shop full force with Mr. Lynn. He was known for his great work ethic. He was an amazing person and also a great salesman. We’ve really tried to keep the same things – the work ethic, the honesty, the integrity, the right treatment of people, always doing what’s best for our customers. These are all things Mr. Lynn emphasized that we continue to focus on today, 60 years later.
It’s also important that we have his son, Tom Lynn, here with us. He is a great leader and broker who runs our office department. It’s great to still have that family connection.”
D Managing Director: What do you want NAI Robert Lynn to be known for as the company celebrates its 60th anniversary?
miller: “The market expertise we have is probably our greatest calling card. When we hire brokers, they work in a specific sector, but then also in a specific sub-market. When I get a deal in Fort Worth, I call Todd Hubbard, who runs our Fort Worth office, because he knows this market better than anyone in the company.
Because we’re so segmented and specific, we get an inside track on deals that aren’t yet in the market. We can inform clients about properties that could be on the market in six months. We are real market experts.”
D Managing Director: How has the North Texas industrial market changed since you got into the business in the 1980’s?
miller: “When I first got into real estate, there were a lot of individual owners. Today Dallas has become such an industrial stronghold. Everyone wants to be here. Market ownership is much more institutional. It’s a significant change.
With a single owner if we can rent it out and have very little vacancy and get a good price they are usually quite happy. With institutional owners, they talk to shareholders and try to improve their performance to increase the value of their shares. When prices don’t meet their expectations, they pass on a deal.
And if it takes three or four months to rent out a building, it would be a loss of income for a single owner. But for institutional owners, their performance is all about the long game and driving those rates up.”
D Managing Director: Where do you see the greatest opportunities for NAI Robert Lynn’s future?
miller: “There are certain areas where we have very good track records, but we also have great growth opportunities. Our property management division has been around for 10 or 15 years and it continues to grow and is a huge asset to us. It was certainly a very profitable part of our business.
More recently, in the last two or three years, we have focused on growing our capital markets. We have such great market information on the office side, retail side and industrial side. There are many options. We are working very hard to expand our capital markets team. I think the capital markets have great growth potential for us.”
Brandon J Call
Brandon J. Call is the Editor-in-Chief of D Managing Director Magazine. An award-winning business and data journalist, Call was previously…