From an early age, Marc Merrill’s summers were filled with painting the building in his Grandfather's shopping center in Coldwater, Michigan, earning a premium wage of $1.00 per hour. The eight units included a Burger Dairy, Sherwin Williams Paints, a body shop, beauty salon, finance company, video rental, bakery and gun shop. After graduating from pharmacy school in 1979, he was commissioned by his Grandfather to manage the family business "in his spare time". Here, under watchful yet aging eyes, Marc advertised, authorized repairs, drafted leases, handled complaints and paid the bills for him. His grandfather’s death in 1983 at the age of 89 ended an era of real estate instruction for Marc.
At 1:00 on a Saturday afternoon in August, 1984, Marc walked into Kraft Pharmacy in Mishawaka. By 4:00, and with a handshake, he had purchased and financed a pharmacy, doctor's office and five apartments. Realizing that in Indiana it is necessary to have a realtor's license to manage more than 5 properties, he enrolled in and passed the realtor's class and state exam. He teamed his license with Anchor Realty, which soon became Coldwell Banker, a relationship that has endured through today.
In 2002, Marc’s brother Chris envisioned a new industrial park in the little town of Granger. Located in the Princess Way campground property, Princess Way Industrial Park Office/Warehouses was started. Eight - 1,500 sq ft suites grew by four - 2,200 sq ft units in 2004. Most realtors have embraced the "triple net" leasing because it puts all of the cost risk on tenants (tenants pay taxes, insurance and common area maintenance in addition to rent). Marc Merrill abandoned this approach because small businesses needed the ability to budget their rental costs for at least 2-3 years while their businesses grew. Today, utilities alone are a large enough variable, therefore all of the leases include taxes, insurance and C.A.M. While this is a departure from evolving real estate practices, the rewards show in longer tenant occupancies with lower turnover rates. Merrill Realty has proven to be responsive to meeting their tenants needs. In 2003, when the Princess Way tenants requested some way in which trucks could easily be loaded, the Merrill brothers, at their expense, constructed a community truck ramp. When tenants wanted more exposure to the newly developed park, they produced new television ads that highlighted businesses in the park. One of the most requested items was for professional office space with ample parking and no warehouse. Princess Way Professional Offices was opened in 2006 to help fill this need. The 2,000-2,200 sq ft offices each with 1,200 sq ft unfinished lower levels, allow for the expansion of growing businesses.
In 2001, the building on the corner of Mishawaka Avenue and Main in Mishawaka was on the path to be abandoned. With the help of the Mishawaka Redevelopment Commission, Merrill Realty purchased the site and was totally remodeled. The site is now the home of the Leather Banana, offering quality leather products at affordable prices.
Today, Marc Merrill proudly reflects on the relationships that he has developed with new businesses. As his Grandfather would say, "If you aren't helping someone with their business...you're just collecting rent".