Now under the umbrella of Cushman & Wakefield, veteran self-storage broker Mike Mele envisions his team executing $1 billion in annual deal volume by 2024.

Ten years after its formation, most members of the Mele Group-directed self-storage brokerage team at Marcus & Millichap recently jumped to commercial real estate competitor Cushman & Wakefield. The team ranks as the top-selling self-storage brokerage group in the U.S., Mele says.

Mele said moving to Cushman & Wakefield affords the opportunity to build a national self-storage platform — the type of platform that he said his new employer had yet to fully scale — that enables him and his colleagues to better compete for large-scale storage transactions.

“We’re really excited to make a big splash,” Mele told the SpareFoot Storage Beat.

In its 10-year history with Marcus & Millichap, the Mele-led team has closed nearly 350 self-storage transactions totaling more than $3.5 billion. In 2018 alone, the team closed 48 deals, with volume surpassing $330 million.

Road to $1 billion

Now operating under the Cushman & Wakefield banner, Mele predicted his team’s deal volume soon will reach 100 to 150 transactions a year. At that level, Mele said his team could hit $1 billion in annual transactions within three to five years. He said the “reinvigorated” team has “the right people and the right support system” to accomplish those “lofty goals.”

Mele said his team continues to focus primarily on its “sweet spot” — transactions from $3 million to $50 million each. But, he added, the team will step up efforts to broker one or two portfolio deals per year ranging from $100 million to $500 million apiece. Achieving this vision, he said, would mean “we’ve got all the bases covered.”

Top executives at Cushman & Wakefield are “very committed to this and committed to us,” Mele said. “We’re really going to work our rear ends off to get there.”

Follow the leader

Mele, who became a self-storage broker in 1999, said Cushman & Wakefield’s sizable resources and considerable reach contributed to his decision to join the company. Cushman & Wakefield posted revenue of $6.9 billion in 2017, compared with $719.7 million at Marcus & Millichap.

“Mr. Mele and his team have built a very successful national business,” Carlo Barel di Sant’Albano, chief executive of global capital markets and investor services at Cushman & Wakefield, said in a news release. “The knowledge and relationships they bring within this niche market will certainly help position our firm at the forefront of the self-storage industry.”

The 16-member Mele team remains based in Tampa, FL, although several brokers are scattered around the country. Aside from Mele, who’s now vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, those making the switch include:

  • Luke Elliott, executive managing director in Tampa.
  • Robert Bloch, senior director in Bethesda, MD.
  • Trey Hammond, senior director in Tulsa, OK.
  • Devin Beasley, director in Tempe, AZ.
  • Brian Fulton, senior associate in Tampa.
  • Noah Obuchowski, senior associate in Washington, DC.

Nine non-broker members of the Mele team still work in Tampa.

Mele said three brokers in the Chicago, IL, market who were part of his self-storage group did not jump from Marcus & Millichap to Cushman & Wakefield.

With our powers combined…

Collaborating with the Mele team are three existing Cushman & Wakefield brokers who specialize in self-storage — Paul Boyle, executive director in Phoenix, AZ; Greg Wells, senior director in San Diego, CA; and Jim Lewis, senior director in Portland, OR — as well as Kate Spencer, managing director in Dallas, TX, who specializes in self-storage on the firm’s valuation and advisory services team.

Mele said the Cushman & Wakefield self-storage team — which is set to be rebranded within the next two months — will hire more brokers to fill geographic voids, particularly in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

Well wishes

Joel Deis, director of the National Self Storage Group at Marcus & Millichap, said he wishes Mele and his team luck, noting that “change is normal and part of our industry.”

“As for us,” Deis told the SpareFoot Storage Beat, “our goal is to continue aggressively pursuing our growth plan as the leading broker and adviser to private and institutional clients.”

John Egan