One of Wichita’s oldest and best-known real estate firms is about to make some big changes.
J.P. Weigand & Sons is building two new offices to replace existing ones on the east and west side, and it’s considering either updating or moving its downtown headquarters, too.
“We’re not rubber stamping anything we’ve been doing in the past,” said president and CFO Peggy Ward. “It’s like, let’s look at our company and see where we can do better.”
She says that includes re-examining recruitment, technology and marketing.
“How do we really evolve into what we need to be as a company?” she says.
The changes come about a year after new competitor ReeceNichols South Central Kansas entered the market, led by former Weigand vice president and general manager Richelle Knotts.
ReeceNichols hired dozens of Weigand employees, including whole teams, such as the Carnahan Group.
Cindy Carnahan and others said one reason they made the jump is for the new technology ReeceNichols offers.
Ward acknowledges the need for ongoing technology upgrades and says that “if we’re not nimble around that, then we won’t survive.”
However, she says Weigand’s changes aren’t in response to ReeceNichols.
“These were plans that were already in the works. We just hadn’t gotten to move forward on them yet, so we’re finally moving forward.”
The first visible change will be the construction of a 14,000-square-foot new west-side office at the Estancia development just south of K-96 and Ridge Road.
Weigand’s current west-side office is in leased space at 2872 N. Ridge Road near 29th Street.
Ward says the owners are great but are turning the building into more of an office park, which means Weigand will lose its big sign out front.
“That’s not really conducive to what we want for our own brand,” she says.
Also, the space needs updating, and she says the question was whether to remodel “or do we want to just go build ours?”
The decision was to build new, just like Weigand already planned to do with Waterfront space it purchased in late 2017.
That office will be between Dillehay Orthodontics and RCB Bank along 13th Street.
Ward says the finishes on both new offices will be similar.
“We’re wanting to kind of have a Weigand-brand feel.”
The west-side building will be ready first — likely mid-October — because it is one level with no basement.
The east-side building is two levels — 14,000 square feet on the first floor and almost that much on the second — with a full basement.
Security 1st Title will share Weigand’s space at both sites but will have its own entrances.
The second floor of the Waterfront building will be for a tenant. Weigand is in talks for the space now.
The basement will have a kitchen and training room, which Ward says also will be an amenity for the tenant.
She says there will be natural light “so you don’t feel like you’re in a basement.”
Ward says both of Weigand’s new offices will have different atmospheres than the current ones.
“We’re going to have a little bit of (a) mix of the old and new,” she says.
There still will be some offices for privacy, but there also will be open spaces with a more relaxed feel to “appeal to . . . the next generation that’s a little more collaborative,” Ward says.
“People work differently now,” she says. “It caters to all . . . of the ways the workforce is currently working.”
She says the goal is to make the spaces more welcoming as well.
Both offices are more for residential agents, but Ward says the idea will be that “everybody is welcome at every space.”
“We’re not going to have that silo feel anymore.”
The Weigand family is the landlord at the company’s current 13,000-square-foot east-side office at 6530 E. 13th Street near Woodlawn, so Ward says that gives the firm more flexibility on when it moves.
She says she hopes to have the new east office ready by next spring, before the busy residential selling season.
The new building won’t face 13th Street, but simply being along it will be “a great billboard,” Ward says.
On the west side, she says K-96 and Ridge Road is where a lot of new development is, and it has easy access.
While the east and west offices aren’t changing sizes significantly, the 19,000-square-foot downtown office at 150 N. Market probably needs to expand, Ward says.
“We’re almost outgrowing this.”
The Weigand family owns that space as well.
Ward says the question once again is whether to remodel or move.
“We’ve got fabulous parking, which isn’t what you always get downtown,” she says. “That’s just a huge convenience that’s hard to walk away from.”
The downtown office is where most of Weigand’s 28 commercial brokers operate.
Weigand has about 185 residential agents and about 43 other employees across its three offices.
Its residential and commercial divisions had starkly different years in 2019.
The company started the year with just over 225 residential agents and ended 2019 with just over 180 due to the ReeceNichols hires.
With new Weigand hires, Ward says the net change is the firm was down more than 30 residential agents.
Residential sales were down as well, but Ward says she can’t immediately say what the percentage was.
Commercial sales were up 18% from 2018. Ward says 2019 was Weigand’s best year for commercial sales in the past decade.
ReeceNichols “hasn’t really impacted our commercial.”
Weigand’s lawsuit against ReeceNichols — alleging breach of fiduciary duty, wrongful use of trade secrets and interference with business among other things — is still ongoing.
Ward says the new offices are a signal of new things to come for Weigand.
“It just complements our transition,” she says. “It helps us become who we need to be . . . for the next decade.”