From Expanding Operations to Leveraging Technology, Lee & Associates Evolves in the Face of Change

The situation is a familiar one from the past year: 2020 changed a banner year full of promise into a difficult scenario full of fear and challenges. Jeffrey Rinkov, CEO and chairman of the board at Lee & Associates reflects on how his company took an emphasis on technology and communications infrastructure and used the past year as a time for reflection and a period to promote growth and client engagement. He also discussed trends he’s seeing for the future, the lessons he’s learned from a most unusual year and why he’s feeling optimistic for 2021.


Focusing on Clients from the Start

It’s hard to believe that less than one year ago, Rinkov’s team was experiencing an industry-wide high of momentum with massive pipelines and robust capital.

What happened when the unthinkable came to pass? Rinkov explains that the executive leadership team at Lee & Associates took a moment in the early chaos to pause and evaluate what was critical, “Employee and agent safety, client connectivity and how we could deploy resources throughout our platform in a completely different way to support our agents and their client pursuits and interactions.”

Tech savvy, hours of leadership phone calls and ingrained communication practices laid the path for pivoting. The formula for Lee & Associates’ success since then has been wide ranging and positive: among the results were expanding the company’s research voice and engaging in a virtual Lee Summit annual meeting. Plus, Rinkov explains, “We started giving our agents reasons to be in contact with their clients and become a more valued resource through the content that we were producing. We showed the depths of our brand and our skillset, along with tasks that we could assist in, advising in areas that weren’t only transaction-based when we couldn’t make a transaction.” READ MORE >


CRE Trends Moving Forward

Some of the most dramatic COVID-19-related changes have been “not so much changes, but accelerations,” says Rinkov. “Retail has been a product discipline that’s been in transition. The industry is trying to understand what ‘omnichannel’ means and to create a brick-and-mortar presence that supports an e-commerce portal. It’s been challenging, and it has led to more vacancy and differing types of engagement. People are trying to identify how consumers are best served.”

Rinkov points out that the “acceleration and the thrust towards e-commerce (and how it has affected industrial real estate and last-mile facilities) has been dramatic” and has given an upward lift to industrial real estate.

Still, while e-commerce shopping is clearly here to stay because it’s efficient for the customer, Rinkov explains “I do think there is an opportunity for Main Street and High Street retail that can either differentiate itself or be paired well with e-commerce.” He also believes that as the market changes and people are more comfortable returning to their old ways once there is widespread availability of vaccines, that experiential retail and real estate will once again grow in importance. READ MORE >


Cultivating Office Culture

Will the emphasis on working from home stick? Rinkov jokes that yes, as a broker who spent most of his lunches sitting in his car with a sandwich in one hand and a cell phone in the other, he thinks remote work will stay a big part of real estate brokerage.

How we occupy offices, fitness centers or medical offices will certainly change: people will return to physically occupy these spaces, but there will be a demand for “changes in density interaction. There will be the need for more efficiency, smaller commutes or fewer commutes per week,” he says.

Suburban offices will certainly benefit from ongoing changes. Previously overlooked, this suddenly re-energized product type has gained popularity as more companies have decentralized their offices — providing places where smaller groups of people can have all the resources, they need in one place and collaborate, while others work from home. READ MORE >


Expanding Operations and Looking to the Future

Lee & Associates continued its growth in 2020, adding offices to serve expanding markets. The company opened three East Coast offices in key markets: Boston, Washington, D.C. and Naples, Fla. “We’ve had a tremendous volume of business that has been flowing from within our company into those markets. Our capital was raised in advance of [our] expansion activities, and it was raised specifically for a targeted list of expansion cities where we want to have a physical presence.”

But it isn’t just the locations that Rinkov is proud of; it’s the people. “We are really careful about who we choose as partners. We’re definitely looking for entrepreneurial self-starting brokers who want to enjoy the benefit of an international brokerage firm with lots of resources in a number of markets.” Carefully selected people, local ownership and a unique structure for raising and deploying capital has allowed Lee & Associates to expand with confidence. READ MORE >

Lee & Associates offers an array of real estate services tailored to meet the needs of the company’s clients, including commercial real estate brokerage, integrated services, and construction services. Established in 1979, Lee & Associates is now an international firm with offices throughout the United States and Canada. Our professionals regularly collaborate to make sure they are providing their clients with the most advanced, up-to-date market technology and information. For the latest news from Lee & Associates, visit or follow us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Link, our company blog.