Merger Opens New Markets


Merger Opens New Markets

Michael Blum and Edward Villarreal in front of their new McAllen office following the merger of their commercial real estate companies. (VBR)
Michael Blum and Edward Villarreal in front of their new McAllen office following the merger of their commercial real estate companies. (VBR)

After years of discussion and negotiation, a new merger has created one of the largest independently owned full-service commercial brokerage real estate firms in South Texas.

Michael Blum, partner and managing broker of NAI Rio Grande Valley; Charles Mueller, managing partner of Synergis Realty Group, LLC, owner of NAI Rio Grande Valley; and Edward Villarreal, owner of South Texas Commercial Real Estate, recently signed off on the merger that has been under discussion for a couple of years.

“There was never a question of whether it was coming, it was what was coming,” Blum, managing broker for the merged firm, said about the negotiations. “The whole is greater than the parts and by coming together we have nearly 100 years of real estate experience.” The merged firm will be known as NAI Rio Grande Valley with offices in McAllen/Harlingen and will continue to operate as South Texas Commercial Real Estate in Laredo and Eagle Pass.

“After conversation and evaluation, it seemed logical that NAI RGV and STXCRE merge to take advantage of the synergy between its ownerships and the professional brokerage teams they manage,” CEO Mueller said. “The improving economy and outlook for the commercial real estate market continue to create new opportunities for our clients.”

Villarreal touted the collective experience of the new team. “We have the talent and expertise in the area that we think is unparalleled and unique in South Texas. Mike has brokers who are very seasoned and our team has plenty of experience as well as a younger crew with the perspective of a newer generation.”

Villarreal has worked in commercial real estate since 1999 and has leased or sold more than 20 million square feet of commercial space. Blum has been a partner and managing broker with NAI Global affiliates since 1997.

NAI Global is the single largest and most powerful worldwide network of owner-operated commercial real estate brokerage firms with offices in 67 countries, 350 local offices and 6,700 brokers.

Economic growth on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border shows no signs of letting up and the merger will position the combined forces of NAI RGV and STXCRE to expand service throughout the region. “Everything involves a piece of land or a commercial/industrial building,” Villarreal said. “Being up and down the border, the dynamics of this market, I am very positive in what I see. What really excites me is the collaboration we have as a group. We really think alike and that is a part of making this work. We have become the industrial and commercial real estate experts in our region.”

Blum shares a similar outlook on the synergy behind the merger. “Edward’s knowledge in commercial real estate, particularly in the Valley and Laredo, is unmatched. He has cut a huge swath of success in industrial real estate. Blending our two firms will expand our reach, enhance our market knowledge and increase our market share.”

As with any successful business venture, customer service is top of mind with the new partners. “Adding value is what differentiates us from others,” Villarreal said. “And our philosophical approach of how to treat people and doing it in a way that is ethically sound.”

Laura Liza Paz, one of NAI RGV’s top producers, said the merger brings together shared vision, values and leadership styles. “The merger presents the opportunity for us to team up with other experts who will share their vision, knowledge and technical know-how that will help create a more satisfied client and customer.”

With a border region population of about four million today and projected to reach seven million by 2040, Blum said commercial real estate will become an even hotter commodity. “The population growth here is phenomenal. When that word gets out there are a lot of people who will be looking at this area.”

The firm’s new headquarters at 800 W. Dallas in McAllen will be staffed with 10 agents/brokers and four full-time staff to service and support the brokerage operations. Other key agents at the brokerage include Cody Woodland, Eric Ziehe, Carlos Molina, Roger Stolley, Jaboney Rodriguez and Foss Jones. In addition to sales and leasing of commercial properties, the merger sets the stage for further expansion into property management, Blum said.