Most successful companies are created out of a problem that needs a solution. This was the case in 1996, when Eric West, Richard Lane and Gary Schlager formed West, Lane & Schlager, a commercial real estate brokerage firm exclusively representing tenants in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. As former brokers at large commercial real estate firms, they observed first-hand the deficiencies of the “full-service” brokerage business model. Trying to be all things to all people in order to compete on a global scale is simply not what most tenants in the D.C. region are looking for. The vast majority of tenants in the Washington, D.C. area are mid-market users of between 5,000-100,000 square feet. WLS set out to create a firm and a culture to best serve these clients.
We accomplished this in several ways.
First, we developed a culture of no internal teams. Instead of several small, competing fiefdoms under one roof, all of our brokers work together as one team. This benefits our clients who receive the market knowledge and expertise of our entire team and not just a few. Second, we became laser focused on tenant representation. This ensured that our clients received the best representation without the inherent conflicts of interest that exist at full-service firms representing both tenants and landlords.
Next, we determined it was critical to not only be experts in the market, but also in our clients' industries. We are deeply entrenched with trade associations, nonprofits, law and government relations firms, tech companies and other prevalent industries in the Washington, D.C. area. It takes much more than market expertise to best represent our clients’ interests. It is also critical to understand how their business works in order to achieve the best long-term solution.
And finally, a standard we have held to from day one is that a principal is involved in every transaction. Whether negotiating a 2,000 or 100,000 square foot lease, our clients have a seasoned person on their side of the table.
In one of the most competitive commercial real estate markets in the country, WLS set out to fix what we deemed a broken system and do things differently. 20 years later, we are proud that we continue to be recognized as leaders and innovators in tenant representation.