Bringing High-Quality Shoes Directly to Customers
Jim Ferguson has spent his career in the shoe manufacturing business. Relying on years of experience, he knows what it takes to create high-quality handmade leather shoes.
He also knows what goes into the price of those shoes: wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. He and his partner, Bob Weber, had an idea to cut out the middlemen to bring high-quality leather shoes directly to the St. Louis area.
Together, they established Naked Boot and Shoe, a St. Louis-based handmade shoe line and retail store.
They did so by first establishing a relationship with Pakistan-based Tannery KTM Leather, a company that could use the all-natural process Ferguson believes would create the highest quality leather in an environmentally friendly manner.
Weber told the Webster-Kirkwood Times, “Because of our partnership with KTM Leather, we own and control our entire supply chain. Without the middle-man, we are able to pass our cost savings directly back to the customer.”
Additionally, they brought in senior merchandiser and fashion designer Kelly Weber (also Bob Weber’s niece) to help create custom designs for Naked Boot and Shoe. Only twenty-two, her work is already garnering attention from renowned designer Nicole Miller.
The partners opened their first location in Webster Groves at 8157 Big Bend and found it resonated with customers immediately.
Building on that momentum, they decided it was time to open a second location, this time in Chesterfield, MO. To find the right retail space for rental, Mr. Ferguson called on commercial real estate brokers Rebecca Thessen and Jeff Altvater at Hilliker Corporation.
Looking for the Perfect Fit in Chesterfield
The opportunity in Chesterfield was clear. With lots of shopping in the area and a clientele used to a high-end experience, there were no handmade shoe boutiques in the area. Naked Boot and Shoe could fill that need but first had to find a small retail space for rental in Chesterfield, MO with complimentary businesses nearby.
At the same time, Thessen and Altvater’s clients at 1590 Clarkson Road had an opening. Owned by Southern Real Estate and Financial Co., the building’s anchor tenants are Talbot’s and Chico’s, with a nearby nail salon and yoga studio. The open space, once occupied by a gourmet cupcake shop, had been vacant over a year.
Ferguson loved the space and decided to pursue it.
Cutting Out the Middleman
In such circumstances, she says, “I know the expectations of both the tenant and the landlord,” and that not going through a third party made the process “more time-efficient. I know them. I know what they like, and I know what they don’t like.”
Thessen said of Ferguson, “Jim is a great guy to work with, very efficient, very on top of things. He’s familiar with the business.”
Additionally, Thessen and Alvater were excited to have a retail solution already lined up for their client, an opportunity afforded them by being part of the Hilliker team.
The Right “Next Step”
Southern Real Estate’s John Roberts says, “It’s exciting to have [Naked Boot and Shoe] in the Chesterfield area,” believing placing them near Chico’s and Talbot’s will benefit all three stores, adding to the success of the retail center.
Positioned for expansion, Ferguson and Weber are bringing their vision for high-quality handmade shoes to West County. Naked Boot and Shoe’s second location at 1590 Clarkson Road is set to open March 15, 2019.
Looking for Retail Space for Rent?
Hilliker has solutions for you. Whether it’s in their database or listed with another company, we work tirelessly to find something that meets your needs. Get in touch with Hilliker today!
Family-run Fire Truck Business Set to Rehab South County Retail Plaza
From Childhood Dream to Thriving Business
Bill Franz grew up loving fire trucks. And in 1986, he saw an ad in the paper that changed his life.
It had a phone number and a simple message: “Sell fire trucks.” Bill was in. He called the number and went to work for a company out of Chicago doing just that.
Soon, he and his wife, Norma, decided to start their own firetruck sales company out of their house. It’s grown into Sentinel Emergency Solutions, a thriving family business with two locations in the St. Louis area: one in Arnold, one in Freeburg, IL.
Sentinel sells, repairs, and customizes fire engines for municipalities throughout Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. They also provide the life-saving boots, helmets, gear and breathing apparatuses firefighters use every day.
In 2007, Bill’s son Brian Franz became a partner in the business, and several members of the family are also heavily involved.
With a lease on their Freeburg, IL, location set to expire, Sentinel was ready to buy commercial property in the St. Louis area, one that would bring their two sites together. They also wanted room to grow, looking toward the future.
For that, a mutual business advisor referred them to Brendan O’Brien of Hilliker Corporation.
A Belief in Serving Communities
Bill and Brian Franz hoped to find a piece of raw land where they could build a structure that would suit the needs of their unique business model: bays for repair and customization, offices, a showroom, and a large lot.
They knew they needed to stay near I-255 for the sake of their clients. Brian said, “There are gravel floors in some southern Illinois fire departments. They have Bingo nights to pay for gas.” Neither Bill nor Brian wanted to ask these valuable customers to drive any farther than they needed to.
However, there was little raw land or other industrial buildings that would suit their needs. With the help of O’Brien and their partners at Doering Engineering, they saw an opportunity.
Franview Plaza, a commercial retail space in unincorporated St. Louis County and just off Telegraph Road, looked like it might meet their needs. An L-shaped retail strip with several tenants, the largest space had gone unfilled for seven years. Having been initially occupied by an A&P grocery store, it had many tenants over the years but was now sitting vacant.
As the demographics of the location had changed, there were few obvious solutions for new tenants. The owners, Franview Partners, were ready to divest themselves of the property and looking for the right match. They needed someone who would take care of the building’s current tenants and had a plan for the grocery-store-sized space.
Incredibly, Franview Partners were represented by Hilliker’s Will Aschinger, so O’Brien and Aschinger went to work on their clients’ behalf, looking not only to benefit the two businesses but also the community.
An Unexpected Solution: St. Louis Commercial Retail Space
Bill and Brian knew the benefits of purchasing already-developed land: that drainage, grading, and other pieces of infrastructure were already in place.
The Franzes hadn’t considered taking on tenants, but they immediately saw the potential. Tenants meant income, and though they saw how much work the building needed, they were up for the challenge.
As for the old grocery store space, O’Brien came upon a highly creative solution. He suggested Sentinel adapt this now obsolete retail center, recommending they tear it down and construct their ideal building from scratch.
In total, Sentinel would acquire 55,000 square feet of St. Louis-area commercial property but only keep 20,000. The rest would be torn down and rebuilt into a beautiful, state-of-the-art, 30,000-square-foot facility.
Everyone was on board.
Aschinger and O’Brien spent many hours guiding their clients through the process of securing zoning approvals from the county. In the end, Sentinel’s real estate investment arm, LJC Commercial (owned by Brian & Maria Franz), purchased 2828-2830 Telegraph Road in South St. Louis County for $1,500,000.
Businesses Working Together for their Community
Jim Roberts, of the Franview Partnership, was happy to see his company’s investment getting a new life. He said, “The center needed to be refurbished … It was time to make changes, but it’s hard to find credit-worthy tenants, and we wanted to do something positive for the neighborhood.”
Roberts sees Sentinel’s plans for the commercial property as a way to “create new enthusiasm” in the region, hoping the upgrade will also mean more revenue for the Mehlville School District in particular.
Brian Franz was ecstatic with Hilliker’s work on the project. He said he had been searching for a broker who would “communicate with me and really be on our team. We needed somebody who would kind of steer us down the path. Brendan was in constant communication with me. And having him and Will in the same office was a real help to us as well.”
With plans drawn by Dial Architects, work is underway. Sentinel plans to break ground in the spring of 2019 and move in by January 1, 2020.
But wait – there’s more! Read Here to find out what the St. Louis Business Journal had to share about this new development!
What Are Your Business Goals?
Mahn Custom Homes and Renovations Purchase New Headquarters, Adding Showroom, in Fenton
Creating a Personalized Experience
In 1998, Mike Mahn saw an opening in the construction industry. As someone who believed in quality work and service, he noticed too many contractors and builders settled for cookie-cutter solutions and unreliable timelines.
In response, he founded Mahn Custom Homes to work on custom homes, historic renovations, home remodels, and light commercial projects. He’s grown the firm into a multi-million-dollar operation with over fifty employees, consultants, and suppliers.
The company continues to grow, and faster than ever. In October 2018, Mahn brought on five new full-time employees, putting their office space at a premium. Warehouse was limited as well, overflowing with materials for upcoming projects.
Concurrently, Mahn had a desire to take the company’s design services to a higher level. He wanted space to showcase many of the options available to clients.
Recognizing the company needed a new place to call home, Mahn called on Will Aschinger of Hilliker Corporation. Together, they started to look for something to meet all of Mahn Custom Home and Renovation’s needs.
Finding Commercial Warehouse, Office, and Showroom Space in St. Louis
Aschinger and Mahn had specific criteria for their building.
First, they needed about 3000 feet of St. Louis-area commercial office space along with 2000 feet of commercial warehouse space. They also needed to be as close as possible to their original Kirkwood location, stay close to a major intersection, and be convenient for their current employees to commute to and their customers to find.
Additionally, Mahn focused his business model on offering the highest possible levels of customer service. Preferring to call his clients members of his family, he’s always looking for ways to create a second-to-none experience them.
As they looked for a new space, Mahn decided to search exclusively for buildings with a showroom, adding a higher level of service than ever before.
Aschinger brought all of his expertise to the project, knowing that such a building would be hard to find. After assessing commercial warehouse and office spaces throughout the St. Louis area, concentrating near Kirkwood, the two found success in nearby Fenton.
A Custom-Made Solution
Mercury Communications, which had just been purchased by Keeley companies, no longer needed their building at 1710 Larkin Williams. They were ready to divest themselves of the property, vacate their space, and find a new landlord for the tenants in the rest of the building.
It met all of Mahn’s requirements, including office space, warehouse space, and a showroom. Already zoned for light industrial use, it sits close to the intersection of Highways I-44 and I-270 on a highly visible corner.
Moreover, it met one of Mahn’s wish-list requirements: tenants. Tenants would provide cash flow from the beginning while allowing the company to have a building they could grow into over time.
Though the building was built in 1970, it had been completely renovated in 2011 and was ready for its new owners to customize immediately.
In the end, Aschinger brokered a deal for Mahn Custom Homes and Renovations to buy 1710 Larkin Williams from Mercury Communications for $1,225,000.
The new building positions Mahn to continue to expand their current operations while having a much wider range of offerings available to their customers. The showroom’s grand opening will take place on Sunday, May 5.
But wait, there is more – read HERE to find out what the St. Louis Business Journal had to say about this development!
Can Hilliker Help You?
What are your business goals? Is it time for a move to a new warehouse, office, or showroom?
Quality Auto STL, Built on Foundation of Helping Veterans, Finds Commercial Rental Space in Westport
A Dedication to Excellence
David Marks founded Quality Auto STL in 2010. Having worked in the industry since 1999, he jokes he bought a “garage with a house in front of it” to build a business that has gone from a part-time venture to a full-time, profitable career—one set for expansion.
In addition to auto repair, Marks has his dealer’s license. He seeks out and repairs used cars on behalf of clients who trust his knowledge and skill.
From the beginning, he decided to use these skills to give back to veterans, of which his dad is one.
Marks volunteers his time with The American Legion’s Vehicle Donation Program. He repairs donated vehicles and, using his dealer’s license, brings them to auction. As a representative of The American Legion, he sells them for a profit that goes to helping veterans, among the organization’s other programs.
It’s work he’s proud of.
An Opportunity for Expansion
As Marks and Yocum lined out the opportunities for Quality Auto STL, the challenges were immediately apparent.
First, they knew they needed a relatively small St. Louis-area commercial rental space near his current location on Lackland, eliminating several options.
Additionally, since Marks wanted to keep operating as a dealer, they concentrated their search on Maryland Heights, the only nearby municipality that would allow for an auto repair shop to also sell used cars.
The next hurdle was finding someone who believed Quality Auto STL could operate a clean and organized business on their property. Marks came with a track record of taking care of his current location, but he and Yocum would have to convince potential landlords of this.
After visiting and evaluating more than seven locations, Yocum found a nearly 2700-square-foot commercial rental space in the Westport area of St. Louis that was clearly the ideal choice for Marks’s long-term success.
Negotiating a Win-Win
Mad Pak, LLC, owns the building at 11457 Schenk Road. It had commercial rental space opening up that was the right size for Quality Auto STL—large enough to eventually bring on more staff, but small enough to meet its current needs.
The broker for the building knew Yocum and Hilliker Corporation for its second-to-none reputation, lending credibility to Marks’s fledgling enterprise. Mad Pak and Quality Auto STL were able to strike a deal for a 5-year lease.
With the building chosen, Yocum and Marks went to work getting the property zoned for an auto repair shop. The two attended hearings together and were able to take care of the zoning requirements quickly and efficiently.
Poised for Future Progress
Now under construction, the new building in Westport is perfect for Quality Auto STL to continue its growth and success. Marks says he enjoyed working with Yocum, having benefited from his integrity and experience.
Marks said of Yocum, “If he says he’s going to handle it, it gets done.” Also, when Yocum needed Marks to do something, it was clear and actionable, making it easy for Marks to do his part.
Yocum enjoyed Marks’s enthusiasm and ambition, saying the two would remain friends for years to come.
Set to move in on March 21, Marks plans to continue his work for the American Legion and hopes to use the new building to grow his business and keep helping others.
Are you searching for Commercial Rental Space?
Our staff is committed to helping people just like you. No matter the size of the space you need, we’re here to assist you in reaching your goals. If you’re ready to make a move, get in touch today.
Looking to Rent or Buy Commercial Property in St. Louis? Here’s How to Start your Search
Over the next several months, members of our team of Commercial Real Estate Pros will be sharing their expertise with people like you — business leaders poised to move to a new office, warehouse, retail, or industrial space.
In this article, our broker, Brendan O’Brien will outline the topics we’ll be discussing and get you oriented as you start your search.
Going from Overwhelmed to “I Can Do This!”
When you’re ready to move your business, the sheer number of opportunities—along with the pitfalls—can be intimidating.
Most business owners only sign a handful of commercial property leases in their lifetime. And those who feel ready to purchase a building are making a substantial investment that could tie up their capital for many years.
There are new terms to learn (or re-learn). Tons of decisions to make. And intricacies to be aware of.
But finding a great new space does not have to be overwhelming. Qualified Commercial Real Estate Brokers can steer you through the process, helping you get what you need while making your life easier.
Commercial Property in St. Louis
Every market has its challenges and opportunities. As of the publication of this article, St. Louis is seeing a growing number of business owners looking for space, but new construction isn’t keeping up.
However, when it comes to commercial real estate, change is constant, and qualified brokers are people who know the history of their area but stay on top of what’s happening now. Residential agents, though they may be able to help you choose a great home, don’t have the same kind of background.
It’s also important to find a broker who works with an organization that has deep resources and broad experience. A company like Hilliker Corporation shines in these respects.
As you get ready to find a new space, here are some topics your agent will want to discuss with you. In the end, the goal of every great agent is to help you make the ideal choice for your business, your employees, and your customers.
What Are Your Business Goals?
Qualified brokers want to help you make a choice based on your businesses’ current and projected needs. To do that, we’ll need a good idea of what your goals are and what your plan is to get there.
We’ll also need to know your budget. Some people are uncomfortable communicating their budget, fearing being taken advantage of. But good Commercial Real Estate Brokers take your budget seriously and look for ways to get you the best possible solution in the current market.
Feel like you’re ready to make a purchase? A commercial property purchase can be a solid investment, and good for businesses that can project their growth with relative certainty.
However, many moves are part of a quick expansion or projections that involve greater speculation.
In those cases, you’ll want to be familiar with the different lease types, how they get quoted, and what each includes. That way, you’ll be able to make an “apples-to-apples” comparison.
What Type of Lease Is Best for You?
There are several different types of leases. Each one outlines what aspects of the building and its maintenance you’ll be responsible for, as well as how you and the landlord will handle the reimbursement of taxes and expenses.
Leases also state what the building owners are responsible for, along with what contribution they’ll make to whatever improvements or changes you’re planning.
In the coming weeks, we’ll delve into the intricacies of leases, but here’s an outline of the primary lease structures:
- Triple Net – the lessee (or the tenant) is responsible for all the costs of the space they’re leasing, including all repairs, insurance, and property tax.
- Double Net – the lessee is responsible for insurance and property tax.
- Gross – the lessee pays a flat rate encompassing the taxes and insurance costs associated with the property.
- Modified Gross – the lease begins with a base year lease rate. Should taxes or insurance increase beyond the base rate, the lessee (that’s you!) will pay the difference based on how many square feet your business occupies.
Depending on your projections for the future, a sub-lease (taking over an existing lease from a company who no longer needs the space) or a lease with an option to expand may serve you best.
Matching your needs to the right lease is where good Commercial Real Estate Agents shine, knowing how to negotiate on your behalf with your best interests at heart.
Where Would You Like Your Commercial Property Located?
There are a few things to consider.
First, where are you currently located? If it’s already working for you, then we’ll want to start looking for a property close to your current space.
If it’s not working or you’re starting from scratch, you’ll want to find a place that’s easy for your employees and customers to get to. If the commute to your new site is difficult for everyone involved—or even just for you!—then you’ll regret the move as long as your lease lasts.
You can also ask: Where is the center of my life? Where is the center of my employees’ and clients’ lives? Maybe we can find a place near where you already shop, eat, and live.
We’ll also want to determine how visible your business needs to be. We don’t want to bury you in an office park if customers need to see you from the road. At the same time, many businesses are served best by office parks and industrial areas. Which are you?
What Size and Features Do You Need?
To determine office space, you’ll need to start with the number of staff members you have and how many square feet each person on that staff will need. If you plan on expanding, bring that into consideration as well.
Then, add what you think you’ll need for ancillary spaces like a copy room, a break room, and storage or warehouse spaces.
We’ll also want to discuss what the property needs to look like. You may need to impress clients with high-class finishes and an appealing neighborhood. You may need to keep things simple to serve the nature of your business and clientele.
Anything else you can tell us about how your business operates will help us narrow your search, save you valuable time, and get you where you need to be as quickly as possible.
Ready to Get Started?
When you’re ready to make a move, you need a pro you can rely on to get you the best possible space given the parameters you set and the realities of the market.
A great Commercial Real Estate Agent knows the ins and outs of leases, lease negotiations, and purchases. They want to help you get the most out of a deal while keeping your reputation intact.
If you’re looking for a Commercial Real Estate Agent, Hilliker Corporation would love to help. Give us a call, and we’ll do all we can to get you to the very best space for your needs!
Clayton, Missouri – October 23, 2018 – Capes Sokol, a St. Louis-based full-service law firm, has signed a lease to move into the Regions Centre located at 8182 Maryland Avenue in Clayton.
Jeff Altvater and Rebecca Thessen, office brokers with Hilliker Corporation, represented the tenant, and Newmark Grubb Zimmer represented the landlord, 8182 Maryland Associates.
Under the 10-year lease, the firm will occupy the top two floors of Regions Centre, approximately 34,000 square feet of premium office space.
“In the last four years, the number of Capes Sokol professionals has grown by over 50 percent,” said Jeffrey A. Cohen, Managing Shareholder of Capes Sokol. “Since our founding in 2001, we have been located in the Pierre Laclede Center. Due to deliberate growth, we have expanded our space multiple times.”
Altvater and Thessen assisted the firm with their previous expansions and renewals in the building. “We are committed to remaining a mid-sized, St. Louis-based law firm,” continued Cohen. “The expanded space will allow us to continue to add to our roster of outstanding legal talent. We are planning a redesigned office that will offer dynamic, collaboration-based working spaces and will accommodate new attorney and practice group development consistent with our strategic plan. Our success has been the product of thoughtful and intentional growth in certain practice areas allowing us to better serve our national, regional, and local clients.”
The attorneys of Capes Sokol focus on corporate and real estate matters; business, commercial, intellectual property, and product liability litigation; tax litigation and controversy; white collar and other criminal defense matters; trusts and estates; and digital currency and blockchain technology matters.
“The Clayton Class-A office market remains extremely tight, especially when searching for contiguous spaces that exceed 15,000 square feet,” Thessen stated. “When we discovered that a large vacancy was to become available prior to the previous tenant making a public announcement, we jumped at the opportunity.”
“We are proud that we were able to leverage this crucial information on behalf of Capes Sokol to result in a successful negotiation,” Altvater added.
Hilliker Corporation, which targets regional and national entrepreneurs, is St. Louis’ largest independently owned commercial real estate company located at 1401 S. Brentwood Blvd. The firm’s agents, who each average over 15 years of experience, have completed more than 10,000 commercial transactions for office, industrial, retail, and institutional clients since its inception in 1985.
Valley Park, Missouri – April 30, 2018 – Locally owned Kirkwood Material Supply (KMS) plans to open a new location in Valley Park at 141 and Hwy 44 in late May.
KMS closed on the 5-acre, 25,000 Sq. Ft. former St. Louis Hardscape Facility in February of this year.
Hal Ball with Hilliker Corporation Commercial Real Estate represented KMS and the seller in the transaction. The new location will sell landscape materials as well as concrete and asphalt maintenance products.
This will be the seventh location for KMS in the St. Louis region, including retail outlets in Kirkwood, Eureka, Des Peres, Affton, Lake St. Louis and Chesterfield.
Hilliker Corporation has sold the 386,000 sq. ft. Masonic Temple at 3681 Lindell Boulevard.
Ben Hilliker and Scott Martin of Hilliker Corporation represented Masonic Temple Association of St. Louis and sold the property to Brandonview LLC.
The Masons will continue to occupy the Temple Building for a brief period of time before moving to a new location, and in the near future, the buyer will announce its plans for the Temple Building. The Temple features six full floor levels and eight mezzanine levels. On the first level, there is an unfinished theater designed for 2,200 seats and a grand entry lobby, finished with marble and painted mural.
The 14-level Masonic Temple was built in 1926 and at one time housed then, Grand Master Harry S. Truman’s office. Charles Lindbergh, before his transatlantic flight in 1927, was initiated into the Masons in the Temple. During the Cold War, the Temple’s lower level was designated as an air raid shelter.
Des Peres, Missouri – October 3, 2017 –Hilliker Corporation recently sold the Comfort Shoe building off Route 141 and Manchester Road for $1.3 Million.
Will Aschinger with Hilliker Corporation represented the seller in the real estate transaction, while JLL represented the buyer.
The new proposed use for the retail building is global flooring business, Advance Carpet One.
The 9,516 sq. ft. retail building was originally built in 1968 as a hot tub supply store. It was then turned over to Stephens Flooring for over 15 years before it became the most recent occupant – Comfort Shoe Specialist.
Years later, the building will now return to its flooring business roots.
The retail building is located at 11693 Manchester Road, St. Louis, MO, 63131.
Hilliker Corporation was founded in 1985 and is St. Louis’s largest independently owned commercial real estate company. The firm has completed more than 10,000 transactions to date for industrial, office, retail and institutional clients. Hilliker Corporation is located at 1401 S. Brentwood Blvd, St. Louis, Missouri.