About five years ago, Elliott Jamison was on the verge of starting his own firm. He'd spent 12 years under the tutelage of executives at Realty Capital Advisors, then a few months at Lee & Associates. Jamison felt he'd grown to a place where he no longer fit precisely with the traditional brokerage model.
Then a chance meeting in a convenience-store parking lot changed the trajectory of his career – if only temporarily.
Jamison Commercial Partners, a venture launched in mid-March in which the now-CEO joins forces with longtime colleagues Ryan Kingry, Darryl Dotherow and Chuck Holliday, is taking flight with not a small amount of help from his now-former boss, Brian Grandstaff of Millenia Partners.
"I was on my way to the Tavistock Golf Tournament and ran into Brian at a 7-11," he told GrowthSpotter on Thursday.
Jamison queried as to what Grandstaff was doing in the neighborhood.
"He said, 'I own it!' and I thought, 'That is a very good reason to be here!'"
The chance meeting led to a coffee that stretched into an eight-hour marathon. At the finish line, Jamison decided to make a move to Millenia instead. Five fruitful years later, the time for autonomy has come.
"(Grandstaff) and I talked, he was helpful, he really helped facilitate it," Jamison said. "And the new business will likely enhance our relationship…. Being apart will force us to make conscious decisions to do things together like we do with other people in the market."
The new company has leased office space in downtown's Fairwinds Tower. Jamison's excitement at partnering with proven friends and colleagues is palpable.
He and newly minted Chief Operating Officer Kingry, whose technical approach Jamison says complements his less numbers-driven style, have worked together at both Realty and Millenia. Similarly, Jamison's history with Senior Vice President Dotherow and Vice President Holliday go back many years.
"It was like the stars aligned," he said of the team's availability and interest.
"Our abilities allow us to look at deals differently, to operate differently" Jamison says of the firm's approach. "We do far more than what brokers do. And we understand development in a way that most brokers ever have the opportunity to do."
He cites their own interests, and their ownership experience, as facets that help the new team better understand the dynamics when clients ink a deal.
"I knew very quickly, and Blaine Strickland at Realty Capital taught me this in a very good way, that this business is more than just chasing the next fee…. I decided then that I wanted to own some real estate."
It has taught him – and his partners – to touch everything as if they own it themselves.
"I have had the privilege of signing my tail on a guarantee. So, when my client's in that position, I know exactly what it feels like."
Jamison Commercial Partners, he said, will not fall under any one umbrella.
"We develop property. We broker property. But we look at everything in the big picture – we are consultants above everything."
They're excited, Jamison said, to continue serving client associations that are far more like long-term relationships, and to do it in the spirit of what he and his partners have imagined.
"I had freedom at Millenia," he explained, "but it wasn't my brand. It wasn't necessarily what (Kingry) and I envisioned. It was just time. I'll be 45 this year and I'm working on some pretty cool stuff. If I don't do it now, I'll look up and 10 years will have gone by and I don't know if I'd really want to start down this road."
Jamison thinks, too, of his three boys, now 13, 12 and 6.
"Maybe someday, one of them might want to work with me."