Avison Young opens new office in Charleston

May 21, 2012

Leading Canadian commercial real estate firm opens 14th location outside Canada as part of strategic plan to expand its services across U.S.; 12-member team joins, led by Chris Fraser and Jeremy Willits

CHARLESTON, SC – May 14, 2012 – Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young, Canada’s largest independently-owned commercial real estate services company, announced the opening of a new office in Charleston, South Carolina.

The newest American office marks Avison Young’s 14th location outside of Canada and the next step in the firm’s aggressive growth and expansion strategy.

Over the past three years, Avison Young has grown from 11 to, now, 31 offices in 28 markets and from 300 to more than 900 real estate professionals across Canada and the U.S. This announcement comes on the heels of Avison Young opening new offices in New York and San Francisco last month.


Effective immediately, 12 real estate professionals – nine brokers andthree staff members – form Avison Young’s new Charleston office. All 12members were most recently with Grubb & Ellis in Charleston. Chris Fraser joins Avison Young as Principal of South Carolina Operations and Jeremy Willits (pictured left) becomes ManagingDirector of the Charleston office. Fraser will be responsible forgrowing the Avison Young footprint in South Carolina, while Willits willoversee the growth and development of the company’s presence inCharleston as well as manage the day-to-day operations of the office.

“We are excited to have Chris, Jeremy and their entire team join our rapidly-growing U.S. platform,” comments Rose. “We are pleased to have found such a highly regarded team to open our first office in the Carolinas. The group has a solid reputation for great client service and will be instrumental in helping Avison Young expand our business throughout the Southeast U.S. South Carolina is home to several important corporate headquarters and presents a strong regional growth area for our company. As a debt-averse organization with a strong balance sheet, Avison Young will continue to build on the momentum we have achieved with the steady growth of our market-leading international commercial real estate services platform.”

Also joining Avison Young are the following: Johnny Bevon (Senior Vice-President, general commercial brokerage); Jonathan Chalfie (Senior Vice-President, office services); Todd Garrett, Vice-President, investment and industrial services); Mike Ferrer (Vice-President, industrial brokerage); Gregg Legerton (Senior Associate, office services/medical); Bill Goodwin, Jr. (Associate, general commercial brokerage); Jeff Irvine, (Associate, retail and investment services); Charlene Aydelotte (Business Operations Manager); Taylor Massey (Director of Marketing); and Courtney Ray (Executive Assistant).

“We are excited to have Chris’ team join the Avison Young organization,” notes Earl Webb, Avison Young’s President, U.S. Operations. “The new office is a great opportunity for Avison Young to build on the successes of our other southern U.S. operations, and we look forward to continuing to grow this regional operation with individuals who embody Avison Young’s principal-led, client-centric culture. With their combined backgrounds and experience in the industry, Chris, Jeremy and team will bring to Avison Young a broad range of complementary skills and build upon our foundation of quality service.”

Avison Young’s new Charleston office will be located at 550 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant – a suburb of Charleston.

“I have known Chris for some time and have always been impressed with his business practices and plans for growth,” states Steve Dils, Avison Young Principal and Managing Director of the Atlanta, Georgia office. “The team’s emphasis on client satisfaction by providing best-in-class solutions is perfectly in line with Avison Young’s strategy of achieving an alignment of goals and interests with our clients. I am thrilled that Chris and his team have decided to join Avison Young and help continue our aggressive, strategic growth across North America.”

“We are excited to join Avison Young and expand its brand and services across the state of South Carolina, with offices planned for Columbia and Greenville,” says Fraser. “Given the interdependent nature of the major markets in South Carolina, Avison Young’s client-specific, holistic-based solutions approach will give us the opportunity to better serve our clients statewide in a seamless organization.”

Adds Willits: “Avison Young’s growth strategy and culture, along with the firm’s leading professionals, many of whom we worked with in the past, provide us with the perfect vehicle to follow through on our goals. Our entire team looks forward to working with our new colleagues at Avison Young, and with our new and existing clients.”
The Charleston metropolitan area comprises three counties: Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester, with a population of approximately 670,000 residents. The area’s diverse economic mix combines one of the busiest container ports along the Southeast and Gulf coasts, a $3-billion visitor industry, one of the U.S. Southeast’s most impressive medical hubs, a well-established base of national and international manufacturers, as well as a large military presence. Major corporations located in South Carolina include Boeing, Blackbaud, Michelin, Continental Tire, Bridgestone Tire and BMW, to name a few.

Chris Fraser

Fraser was most recently President and broker-in-charge of Grubb & Ellis | WRS, as well as Executive Vice-President WRS, Inc. (a real estate development firm), and a co-owner of Southern Real Estate Management – all based in Mount Pleasant, SC. He focuses primarily on large-scale land projects and office leasing, and brings extensive development experience. Initially licensed in 1982, Fraser is one of the Charleston area’s top lease/development specialists. He has leased several hundred thousand square feet of office space in the area and has developed office, hospitality and sports facilities valued at more than $100 million. He has held his CCIM designation since 1989 and earned his Certified Green Broker status in 2010.

Past and present affiliations include: current Chair of Charleston County School District board of trustees; past Chair of the SC State Housing and Finance Authority; past President of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors (CTAR); former delegate to The White House Conference on Small Business; past Chair of the board of directors of The Education Foundation; board and executive committee member of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce; member of the Grubb & Ellis President’s Council; and current member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Charleston Industry Roundtable. He is a past Grubb & Ellis Circle of Excellence award winner and was named CTAR’s Commercial Realtor of the Year in 2008.

Jeremy Willits

Willits came to Charleston in the late 1980s. After a successful career in advertising and marketing with the Post & Courier in Charleston, he joined Grubb & Ellis | WRS in 1997 and launched a career in commercial real estate. Specializing in office properties, he has managed the leasing and sales of more than 1 million square feet of office space.

Past and present affiliations include: board of directors and finance committee member of Charleston Regional Development Alliance; 2010 President of CTAR; 2010 Director for National Association of Realtors; 2008 Vice-President of finance for CTAR; 2005 President of Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service; former board member of Commercial Investment Division (Commercial Realtors Group); board and finance committee member of Trident Uni
ted Way (2006 to present); State director of South Carolina Association of Realtors; past President of Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association; Chair of CTAR Commercial Users Group (2002 to 2004); and sponsor and active member of Mt. Pleasant Business and Professional Association. He was also chosen as a Commercial Realtor of Distinction by the CTAR and is a CCIM Candidate.

In February, Avison Young was named a winner of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies program for 2011, sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, National Post and Queen’s School of Business.

Founded in 1978, Avison Young is Canada’s largest

independently-owned commercial real estate services company. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Avison Young is also the largest Canadian-owned, principal-managed commercial real estate brokerage firm in North America. Comprising more than 900 real estate professionals in 31 offices across Canada and the U.S., the full-service commercial real estate company provides value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial and multi-residential properties.