Starting a mid-market brokerage firm in 1990 in a garden apartment in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood was a humbling experience. When Essex started, we had two brokers, almost no track record, and zero inventory. We struggled early on to close just a handful of deals a year, but we believed in the approach we were taking and in the granular market information we were providing.
Fortunately, our persistence was rewarded, our transaction volume increased, and we remain incredibly grateful to the clients who believed in us and gave us a chance back then. Another challenge—and as any business owner can attest, this is the challenge—was how to find other brokers who shared our ethics, vision and passion.
There were no shortcuts. It took many years to assemble the right team, but the brokers we attracted embraced our core values, and added enthusiasm and fresh ideas. They helped us establish a solid foundation and led us to implement our three-year analyst training program. And that program has helped produce the type of organic—albeit slow—growth that preserves and defines our culture. While our beginnings were certainly humble, in hindsight we wouldn’t change a thing.
The only way for us to succeed back then was to treat every client as our most important client, and that approach defines us to this day. Another central tenet that helped shape our identity early on—and that continues today—was asking each client to select a primary Essex relationship manager. Seemingly obvious, but surprisingly rare in our industry, that personal and collaborative approach has enabled us to better understand and service each client.