Cushman Dumps Most Valley-Based Brokers By SHELLY GARCIA Senior Reporter Cushman & Wakefield has handed pink slips to most of its senior San Fernando Valley brokers in a move many believe is a first step toward closing the Woodland Hills office outright. At least 11 out of about 15 brokers and support staff were dismissed in mid-October in individual meetings brokers described as taking all of 45 seconds. Those affected, most of whom have taken new positions, include: Lee Black, Duane B. Cody, Bill Ripberger, Ron Wade, Mark Leonard and Matt Heyn. Among senior staff members, only senior director Matt Hargrove remains at the office. “What we’ve done here in this office is part of a reorganization that we looked at for several months,” said Joe Vargas, Cushman & Wakefield senior managing director for the Southern California area. “The purpose is to serve our clients more effectively throughout Southern California.” Brokers affected said they had no warning when they were called into meetings and given walking papers, along with two weeks notice, early in October. “No one even shook my hand or said thank you,” said Ripberger, who, despite the abrupt end to his 19 years with Cushman & Wakefield, said he harbored no ill feelings. “It’s just business,” he said. Ripberger has joined NAI/Capital Commercial as senior vice president in the firm’s Westlake Village office. He will continue to handle the territory along the 101 Corridor. Cody, a 17-year veteran of Cushman & Wakefield, has joined Binswanger/Realty Advisory Group as senior director. He will work with Jim Ebanks in that firm’s Woodland Hills office. Binswanger/Realty expects to hire more brokers for that office, which will soon be moving to a larger Warner Center location, Cody said. Wade, Leonard and Heyn, who worked as a team at Cushman, have joined CB Richard Ellis’s San Fernando Valley office in Sherman Oaks. Wade, who spent 14 years at Cushman; Leonard, who was at Cushman for four years; and Heyn, the junior member with two years at Cushman, will continue to focus on office leasing and sales in the greater Valley market. The Wade/Leonard/Heyn team, which has served as leasing agent for Warner Corporate Center, among other properties, has taken that assignment with them to CB Richard Ellis. Brokers said Cushman & Wakefield management did not share their strategy during the short meetings, but most agreed that the brokerage, which has increasingly focused on corporate accounts, no longer sees a need for local representation in individual submarkets. Several brokers, including some who were not former Cushman & Wakefield employees, expect that the moves are the first in a plan to eventually close the Woodland Hills office. Vargas, however, said the company is “committed to this market.” He said there are no plans to move into smaller quarters as a result of the downsizing. Asked why the brokers would not be relocated to other Cushman offices, Vargas said, “We believe the strategy we’ve incorporated will effectively serve our clients.” Also remaining in the Woodland Hills office are Margie Fichter, associate director who teams with Hargrove; Rich Bright and Ray Howden, formerly part of the team headed by Black; and Doug Wolfly, a Conejo Valley resident who is part of a downtown Cushman & Wakefield team. Last year, Cushman & Wakefield acquired Cushman Realty Corp. in a deal that reflected a continuing consolidation of the real estate brokerage industry and an increased focus on servicing huge national and multi-national accounts.