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Welfont: From Start-Up to Industry Leader in Real Estate

Written by Posted On Friday, 05 October 2018 22:33

The Welfont Group of Companies arrived on the commercial real estate scene quietly and unassumingly but within 48 months, sprang up to win the INC 5000’s prestigious award for fastest growing real estate brokerage in America From its inauspicious start as a one man real estate consultancy focused on helping a niche that no one in the commercial real estate world saw as a viable business opportunity, Welfont grew rapidly, expanding its services and strengthening its leadership position in their chosen niche.

The niche that Welfont began to serve was none other than the typically cash strapped nonprofit world who are always in need of funding. When you combine a cash strapped clientele with a service no one has seen enough value in to pursue, it would seem the chances of success were well below average.


Despite what appeared to be long odds of success, Welfont founder and venture capitalist, Dr. Joe Johnson, had a vision for what could be. He saw the nonprofit sector as a market that was vastly underserved. There are roughly 1.5 million US based nonprofits, with the top 35% controlling approximately $5.17 trillion of assets as of 2013. When combined with grants and donations that market segment is estimated to top $3 trillion in annual revenue in 2018. That’s a fairly substantial market niche by anyone’s standards.


Dr. Johnson put together a plan and pulled together a team of like-minded professionals who wanted to do more than merely transact real estate. They wanted to do good while doing well. And by helping nonprofits acquire substantial real estate assets which could be used for their purposes or liquidated for cash, they were doing just that.

In 2015, Johnson’s dream was not getting traction. Johnson recalls, “The plan wasn’t working. I had to buy out my two partners and take back control of the company. That meant I had to be the hands on leader until new leadership could be found.” Johnson self-funded this startup venture with very limited funds. There were no deep pocket investors to carry the risk and weight of financial responsibility. He stated, “I either had to go all in with all my cash and make it work, or live off my cash reserves in hopes that something better would present itself. And if that took too long, my reserves would be gone. So, we went for it.”

Welfont’s CFO, Dr. Michael Surowiec claims, “To grow revenues over a three year period at an over 11,000% rate just with internal cash is unbelievable. No outside investors. Just internal cash. And to grow it from month to month, and quarter to quarter, and to accomplish what we accomplished is a case study by itself.”


When Welfont went from merely advising nonprofits to actually facilitating deals on their behalf, their normal target asset was an underperforming, typically vacant industrial building in rural or tertiary markets. Not only was that a relatively small market in comparison to the estimated $200 billion in currently available excess commercial real estate in the US., but because of the relative undesirability of those assets, the disposition of those distressed real estate assets became a substantial challenge.


Soon, special purpose, commercial, retail, multi-purpose, multi-family and office buildings all came into play. It turned out that the nonprofit world had an appetite for almost any type of real estate as long as Welfont could minimize the risk, provide the financing, perform due diligence, handle the transaction, manage the asset while in their name and coordinate the ultimate disposition. In other words, provide full corporate real estate services.


Providing quality service on so many fronts was no small challenge and not without its missteps, but the Welfont team grew in proportion to the opportunity and was able to manage the many complex issues that arise when handling hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions.


By end of 2017, Welfont achieved an astonishing 11,359%, three year growth rate and now have major expansion plans for the coming years. Having closed on over $400 million with their nonprofit clientele, in over 40 states and on over 40 million sf of space, Welfont’s client base has demonstrated clout.


As the fastest growing real estate brokerage in the country, they also set a record for being the fastest growing real estate brokerage since the INC 5000 began tracking this in 2007, while simultaneously placing 52nd out of a field of 35,000 commercial real estate brokerages for largest firm by transaction volume.

Listing Additional Info

  • State: Wisconsin
  • Address: Avlon Park
  • City: Avlon
  • Zipcode: 08242
  • SOLD: no
  • MLS #: 4452639875
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