Larry and Jane Fortune stand at the entrance of the Fortune Associates office in their new building. Renovations started after the purchase last February and the company moved in that Christmas week. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz.

published on April 15, 2019 - 10:17 AM
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Fresno drivers stuck on Herndon Avenue at rush hour may notice the Fortune Associates logo on the side of 470 E Herndon Ave. between First and Fresno streets — and CEO Larry Fortune says that’s the whole idea.

According to Fortune, the new location puts them not only closer to their clients and shortens the commute of those working with him, it’s also a billboard to motorists waiting for the lights to change. And when they’re in need of a broker for commercial real estate, that logo will be the first one to come to mind. In fact, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., he describes it as a “parking lot.”

“Everybody heading west either wants to get on to the freeway to the south, or turn right to go to Costco — or go across Blackstone and head towards West Fresno,” Fortune said. “There’s 80,000-90,000 cars a day that go by this sign down the street, so just that by itself is going to be good for us.”

Fortune Associates Commercial Real Estate Brokerage closed escrow on the building in February 2018 and moved in Christmas week. But while it may look brand-new now, the 35-year-old site didn’t look that way when they found it. Before they could move, the Fortune crew had to undergo the painstaking process of restoring the run-down location.

Brett Fugman, the broker at Fortune Associates who led the project, described it as a “missing building” on Herndon, with overgrown trees that were shrouding the building and undermining the structural integrity. There were also problems with the siding, which needed to be reinforced and given new skin.

In order to open up the building and give it greater visibility, the Fortune Associates team went through the process with the city to hire an arborist to inspect all the existing trees, after which they got a permit to remove them and re-landscape the property with water conservation in mind. The T1-11 siding — “plytanium” plywood walls of the facility — were then backed up with metal and given a fresh coat of paint. The total cost for the project was around $1.4 million, but has resulted in a fully renovated and modern building.

“Well, it’s exciting for us to be able to create a work environment that we wanted to feel comfortable in for the next 25 to 30 years — we were also able to bring additional tenants into the building that we also do business with,” Fugman said. “So to put everybody under one roof was an exciting possibility and it was what we were looking to accomplish.”

Fortune Associates currently occupies 3,700 square feet of the 15,000-square-foot building and among their new neighbors are farm companies, an insurance company and a law firm.

Another advantage to the move has been that with the exception of Fortune himself, everyone on his team has a shorter commute to work than they had when they were at their previous location near Fig Garden Village, where they’d been situated for the last 45 years. However, Fortune doesn’t mind a slightly longer commute, especially when he’s been getting the feedback he’s been looking for.

“It has amazed me how many people — friends — not necessarily looking for real estate, but just friends and acquaintances that just say, ‘geez, have you moved? I saw your sign on a building on Herndon,’” Fortune said. “And that’s what it was all about. If they’re saying that to me, a lot of other people are seeing it too.”

The Fortune Associates brokers and agents are banking heavily on the turning heads of drivers to notice their new home. And in a few years’ time, they hope the revenue from these potential clients will more than make up for the cost.

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