Broker Spotlight: Rick Gardner

Several years ago, Rick Gardner, CBI, MBA, had the opportunity to sell a business along with a commercial property he was brokering. The process made sense: the client was looking to sell their property, and had planned on just dissolving the business within. Gardner saw the synergies between commercial property and business brokering and suggested that he help them sell the business as well, providing the client with far more benefit. 

Today, Rick uses that talent and business savvy as Vice President and Business Broker for Cushman & Wakefield | CRESCO. He is a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) through the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA), and teaches foundational courses for the association. 

“I wanted to be able to market myself as a business broker,” Rick said. “Most business brokers are not real estate agents or brokers; it’s very rare to come across someone who is both.” 

Business brokering takes a bit more nuance, more legal requirements, more research, and a more detailed approach than commercial real estate, though there are many similarities between the two. With the in-depth knowledge Rick brings to the table, he helps shepherd businesses through the process from start to finish. 

“Unlike a piece of real estate, when you’re buying a business, you’re really buying your livelihood,” Rick said. “We have to prepare a 10-15 page business summary that shows everything from the history, to the ownership, to how the service product lines can be divided up.

The process looks like this: When Rick is representing the seller, he starts by giving them a list of requirements (three years’ financials, forms, etc.). Then, he connects the seller and buyer with Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders to understand what the requirements are for financing. Next comes an extensive face-to-face interview with the seller, where they fill out a questionnaire about their business. Rick then prepares a comp analysis and a marketing piece and facilitates the sale through escrow. 

Rick’s opportunity with CRESCO came about somewhat organically. Having worked with and known several members of the team, Rick already had great relationships at the company. Throughout conversations early in 2021, both he and CRESCO expressed mutual interest in him joining the team in a newly created role in the fall.  

“In my opinion, CRESCO is the premier real estate company not only here but around the country,” Rick said. “They’re the flagship company for commercial real estate. The business broker piece is new for them; most real estate companies don’t have a business broker service at all.”

Rick’s varied and illustrious experience has prepared him well for this role. He served from 1987-1993 in both the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard as an MOS 19D Recon Scout and was a 1989 Honor Graduate from the Army’s Primary Leadership Development Course. In 1995, Rick earned his MBA in Finance from the University of Akron. He began his business and real estate career as a Financial Analyst for Joint Ventures with Richard E. Jacobs Group, and most recently, was a commercial real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Commercial and CBRE. In his spare time, Rick taught finance courses for both an MBA program and a real estate pre-licensing program, while also investing in real estate himself.

Rick is looking forward to taking CRESCO to the next level with business brokering. 

”The connections the company has throughout the region means that the arena is wide open for mixing business brokers with commercial real estate, because it’s a marriage anyway — the two go hand-in-hand anyway, and it’s a great opportunity for the business,” he said.

To learn more about how CRESCO, Greater Cleveland’s leading commercial real estate company, can help you with your property needs, contact us at 216.520.1200, or fill out the form below. A CRESCO professional will contact you shortly.