Latitude Commercial does a lot of business. They’re a full-service commercial real estate brokerage and a property management firm on top of that. With almost a dozen team members, properties across the state, and clients across the country, co-founder and President Aaron McDermott has a lot to manage. It wasn’t always that way though – especially not when it was just him, his brother Brett McDermott, and his old office manager getting things off the ground.
McDermott had experience working in a branch of a national firm where he found that he enjoyed the work – but felt he lacked the support to truly grow that branch. So, he decided to do it himself with his brother as a partner and right-hand man.
“I’d always had in the back of my mind that I was going to have my own firm,” he said. “I guess I was kind of young and naïve, always thinking I could do it better than I saw other firms doing it. I wanted to bring a national approach to Northwest Indiana and how we do our business out here.”
They were out of a small office and got to work. For a young, independent firm that means making cold calls, a lot of cold calls.
“We were making hundreds of cold calls a week,” he said. “There was a lot of getting hung up on, and a lot of nos.”
But it worked, because for every dozen or two dozen rejections – one works out and turns into a potential long-term client. That’s why McDermott, even now, stresses the importance of cold calls to his brokers.
“We have a philosophy of being proactive, we go out and find tenants and find buyers,” he said. “We’re not just sticking a sign in front of a property, crossing our fingers, and hoping that someone is going to call.”
That proactive approach, combined with treating clients well and being there to accommodate their needs, earns Latitude respect and repeat business.
“What we want to do is treat the client right, give them great service at a fair price,” McDermott said. “That way, five years down the road when they need to sell a building or buy another they come back to us. Our business is built on long-term relationships and referrals.”
McDermott had seen the impact of a cold and short-term approach to real estate, stifled growth, and jaded clients, and knew that Latitude would be different.
“I saw what didn’t work with other agents – being greedy and cutthroat,” he said. “A lot of them think in the short term about how much they can make out of a deal. If you take a huge fee it’s like, great, you got them there but now they’re never going to come back to you again.”
He also believes in the importance of another big relationship – the one between a business and its home community. McDermott takes pride in Latitude’s regular philanthropic efforts, such as their work with the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and Lake Area United Way (where McDermott serves as a board member), as well as his team members’ work with different nonprofits in the Region.
“When you’re founding a business you’re always going to use what’s engrained in you as a person, you want it to reflect who you are,” he said. “My dad was always super philanthropic, and my college fraternity was the same. I just feel like it’s important for the business to be a part of the community as well.”
While he is responsible for continuing to grow Latitude’s footprint, McDermott also continues to work on the day-to-day tasks of real estate. His favorite aspect of the job is helping clients make sound investments.
“For me, the best part is helping people invest in properties,” he said. “I like analyzing what makes a great investment property. It’s not just running a list and sending them the options blindly. I talk to the client, show them proforma’s, and explain to them in detail why I think a property is a good fit for them.”
McDermott cannot say for sure what’s next for Latitude Commercial as it grows, but he knows he’s built the right team for the future.
“I love coming to work every day,” he said. “I’ve got a great staff, a great team. I know I can hand stuff off to them and know it’ll get done.”
To learn more about Latitude Commercial, visit latitudeco.com.