From adding an event management division targeting projects in Millwork Commons and the Capital District to plans for development work in re-emerging neighborhoods, PJ Morgan Real Estate owners Ryan Ellis and Susan Clark are leveraging their community knowledge to diversify the services of the business they purchased three years ago.
Ellis, CEO/sales and leasing broker, said the diversification thrust is to “offer all things real estate and all under one roof.” President Susan Clark said the service expansion thrust, which was initiated last year, offers the firm’s 40 employees and 60 independent contractors additional opportunities in which to thrive.
PJ Morgan Real Estate, with 10,000 square feet of office space at 7801 Wakeley Plaza, has plans for growing a new office recently opened in Elkhorn. With the expansion of revenues fueling additional hires, especially in the administrative support and property management positions, the Omaha-based firm has grown to become one of the state’s largest full-service real estate businesses.
The business units of property management, buying and selling of commercial and residential units, and rentals each contribute approximately an equal share toward PJ Morgan Real Estates’ overall revenues.
Clark, who joined PJ Morgan Real Estate as vice president in 2013, admits that the Morgan name had been firmly entrenched with commercial real estate ventures and property management at a time nine years ago when she brought her strong background in residential sales to the table.
Her ownership partner, Ellis — who started his real estate career with Morgan as a Creighton University business finance student — said it is the “high-profile passion projects” that drive him in seeking to add diversity to the revenues of PJ Morgan Real Estate.
Ellis said PJ Morgan Real Estate will likely be seeking out partnerships with projects similar in scope to Flywheel/WP Engine’s move of their headquarters into renovated space in Millwork Commons or the move of Scoular’s corporate headquarters from its long-time downtown location into a 52,000-square-foot renovated building at 13360 California.
“Our future is in seeking collaborative ideas on projects rather than approaching projects with all the competitiveness our industry can bring,” said Ellis, who cites the South 10th street corridor as an area ripe for development.
“From the 10th Street bridge south to Center there’s a lot of opportunities for office redevelopment, multi-family housing and additional retail and service businesses,” he added.
The closing of the Bohemian Cafe, a long-time family-owned staple in the Little Bohemia neighborhood, has offered PJ Morgan Real Estate an important opportunity. With colleagues Derick Lewin — sales and leasing agent for commercial and residential — and Colleen Mason, commercial sales and leasing agent, Ellis said that by relocating Bumper & Auto — an auto parts warehouse — nearby to 1715 S. 13th St., the purchase of that building and its redevelopment has spurred organic development in the neighborhood.
Both Ellis and Clark emphasize that such projects, whether in single or in multiple neighborhoods, offer plenty of growth opportunities for P J Morgan Real Estate.
The South 10th Street neighborhood could be similar to the resurgence of Benson, Clark and Ellis said.
Diversifying is Key
About seven months ago PJ Morgan launched its event management division. Natalie Wallace as its director has identified a couple dozen opportunities for the firm to host weddings, concerts, corporate parties and events, as well as utilizing outside igloo structures that will draw more attention to the Millwork Commons/Capital District and South 10th St. neighborhoods.
“The future of real estate development is in mixed-use residential and commercial projects,” Clark said. “There are a lot of oddball buildings available.”As the owners of PJ Morgan Real Estate, Ellis and Clark decided to stay-the-course when the pandemic hit.
Property management and residential sales divisions increased. The firm brought in commercial agents and gave them a broader training toward the emerging needs of the real estate profession.
“As a result, we’re now giving better customer service, growing our team and providing space here in which our people will thrive,” Clark said.
“During COVID we tore apart our systems and processes and we rebuilt and refined them,” Ellis said.
Strengthening the Core of PJ Morgan Real Estate
He noted that the firm had only 12 employees in 2000 when he was hired and that PJ Morgan differentiates itself in longevity of property managers. Five of 14 have more than a decade of service and about half the agents have reached the ten-year plateau.
PJ Morgan Real Estate employees range from a 20-year-old property manager assistant to commercial sales agents in their 70s.
Ellis, a graduate of Randall School of Real Estate, began his full-time career at PJ Morgan Real Estate as director of property management.
In 2019, after reading a letter from a client praising a recent snow removal job as the “best in 25 years,” Ellis decided to capitalize on the expertise of the private group of maintenance workers he was using.
PJ Morgan Maintenance was formed as a division of the larger firm. It has grown to eight employees and offers its variety of services to customers citywide.
PJ Morgan Real Estate was founded as one of several real estate entities by Omaha entrepreneur P.J. Morgan. Morgan, who started his career in the 1960s, has served as a state senator, Omaha mayor, and in his present position as a Douglas Country commissioner.