Steven Daines faced a quandary back in 2013 when working as leasing agent for the Liberty Lake Portal, a vast commercial hub featuring office space ranging from 115 square feet up to 9,000.
The building had sold out of smaller offices, but demand was still high. That February, the Portal introduced a dozen “executive suites” that Daines billed as “microcosms of the building shrunk down to one area.” The austere stations featured a shared conference area, copy room, bathroom, and kitchenette. Two months later, all but two of those units were leased.
These days, Daines says he endeavors to continue cultivating such innovative thinking as owner of Daines Capital LLC, a commercial real estate company that launched in March of 2018. The Spokane-based company, which does business as Daines Capital Commercial Real Estate, is licensed in Washington, Idaho, and Utah, with Texas soon to join the list.
Daines says his focus is on office space, industrial space, and bare land.
“I love putting things together,” Daines says. “Just creating something that wasn’t there before.”
Since launching the company, he says he’s seen an average annual revenue growth of 270%. Partnerships on the build-to-suit side, with companies like Spokane-based Baker Construction & Development Inc. and Silvey Construction Inc., of Spokane Valley, have added to the momentum.
By the end of 2020, the company had grown enough to hire an assistant and an additional broker. Daines Capital’s office is located at 3029 E. Boone, a few blocks southwest of Spokane Community College.
He says the commercial real estate market “has followed the residential market” in recent years, trending in the seller’s favor.
“I have clients who bought property 24 months ago who’ve seen a 60% increase in value,” Daines says.
Daines, 38, has capitalized on his roots in Liberty Lake, acquiring several parcels before Ridgeline High School was completed. He estimates that over half of his transactions in the last year have involved property between Sullivan Road and the state line. One parcel on Barker Road and Appleway Avenue was purchased for $5.15 a square foot, while land just across the street is now going for $15 a square foot.
He estimates that 48% of his efforts are dedicated to helping business owners find their next or first property, while another 48% is focused on selling and investing in property. The remaining 4% is devoted to leasing.
Daines says he hit the ground running when he launched the company four years ago, motivated by a lofty goal of meeting 10 new contacts each day. The high-energy, interpersonal approach he gleaned from multiple Dale Carnegie courses set the tone for a company culture defined by ambition and ingenuity.
“The first six months, I was just meeting anyone I could, whether it was in the office, lunch, LinkedIn, whatever, just to build up that pool,” Daines says.
Daines closed his first deal a month after opening the doors. The inaugural sale was anything but a softball—a lease with an option to buy involving a seller who needed cash to purchase another property. While the total transaction was considerable at just over $1 million, Daines says the real reward came later when the company that bought the parcel began to flourish.
“They went from eight employees to 65 in 18 months and just transformed the property,” he says. “Before, it was pretty cluttered. I realized that, in a tiny way, I had a part in that.”
Other successes followed, including a transaction last year in which Daines Capital negotiated a 15.8% percent discount for the buyer while maintaining an amicable relationship with the seller who stayed on as the property manager.
Daines cut his teeth in property management under the tutelage of his dad, Bernard Daines, known more for his work as a gigabit Ethernet pioneer and founder of companies like Packet Engines Inc. Newsweek magazine once named Bernard Daines one of the top 100 people to watch for in the first decade of the 21st century while President George W. Bush once appointed him to a federal Information Technology Committee.
In 2000, Bernard Daines bought the Tierpoint building, at 23403 E Mission, and renamed it the Liberty Lake Internet Portal, bringing on Steven Daines part-time after his graduation from Brigham Young University in 2007 with a degree in business management.
Daines then made brief career stops as a financial planner and in admissions for Paul Mitchell cosmetology school, in Spokane Valley, before coming back to the Portal in 2013 as full-time leasing agent and later director of operations. Bernard Daines died in 2014 but not before working side-by-side with his son for a memorable year.
“I spent lots of time learning from my dad,” Daines says. “He was always gathering information, just the consummate listener. He had this mentality that was just, ‘Of course you can do it.’ I grew up in that environment thinking anything was possible.”
When it came to naming his company, Daines initially was hesitant to use the surname made prominent by his late father. Finally, after encouragement from his wife Cassie, Daines locked in on the family brand.
“I’m so glad I used the name,” Daines says. “It opens doors for me to this day. I’ve really just embraced it.”
Daines says he incorporated “Capital” in the company name “to show this is real, it’s an investment,” although occasionally the reference throws people off.
“I made a call once and the guy said, ‘No thanks, I already have a financial planner,’” Daines recalls. “I said, ‘No, I’m calling about your building.’”
Daines says the early customer service lessons from the Portal have carried over into his latest venture.
“When we were renting out space, it was about getting to know the needs of the businesses and the people and finding the right fit for them,” he says. “After working in real estate for 10 years before this, taking it to the next level has made me happy.”
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