Soon after college, Dave Smies entered the industrial real estate business. After five years working for two gentlemen from his church, Smies started his own company, Grand Real Estate. “I said I’d never have employees, but God had other ideas,” Smies recalled. Learning to listen for God’s plan became a theme for Smies over the years.
After successfully running Grand Real Estate for nineteen years, Smies found himself walking a field in the middle of the night in the dead of January. As Smies walked, he called out to God. The pressure of running a business, loving and taking care of his wife and six children, and being faithful to the Lord had become more than he could bear on his own. Not long after that middle-of-the-night conversation with God, Smies’ oldest employee called to let him know he’d been praying for him. This employee also thought Grand Real Estate should merge with Doug Taatjes and join NAI Global, the largest independently owned, managed real estate network.
“I contacted Doug and found out he’d been praying to merge with me for three years. It was so obvious that it was God leading,” Smies said. Just sixty-four days after the initial conversation with Taatjes, Grand Real Estate and Taatjes & Tol merged to become NAI of West Michigan.
NAI had been looking to come to Grand Rapids, and the merger of Smies and Taatjes’ companies offered strength and experience needed in both the office retail and industrial real estate markets. When Smies has a client in Grand Rapids who wants to open a location elsewhere in the country or across the globe, Smies connects the client with the NAI office in the proposed location who then handles the research and negotiation. “We are all experts locally, and this allows us to tie in [to the network], and my clients in those markets are treated well with an expert. It also links us into excellent tools that make us more efficient with cutting-edge technology,” Smies explained.
Eight years after the merge, Smies and Taatje had another opportunity to merge, this time with the Wisinski Group. In 2011, the companies merged to form what is now NAI Wisinski of West Michigan. The company now employs close to forty and consists of an office group, retail group, multi-family group, and industrial group.
Smies said business has been great, and he is thankful for the journey God has taken him on. “I feel God owns the company and has entrusted the stock ownership I have to me to manage it well,” he said. “I realize I came with nothing in my hands and that’s how I will leave, and I ask God to help me not get hung up on all the stuff around me – the company, material goods,” Smies said. He desires that his faith would impact every decision as he continues to embrace and apply God’s wisdom in his journey.
Whether it’s helping entrepreneurs buy, sell or lease buildings or land, helping a business owner find the right office space, or keeping a building space leased, Smies will continue to care about people’s journeys. “A lot of times I’m working with people on the single biggest financial decision of their life. And people are usually open to talking about this, their spiritual life, or lack of it” Smies said. “I pray about that everyday, for opportunities to share.”
Smies currently acts in the general manager role running the NAI West Michigan office, another position he never expected to be in. He continues to be a servant and listen to God’s leading and direction. “I believe He’s in control of everything, and our question is how to be faithful.”
At a glance:
Business: NAI Wisinksi of West Michigan
Title: General Manager
Family: Deb, married 28 years; six children 4 boys, 2 girls, 10-26.
Address: 100 Grandville Ave SW, Suite 100, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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