Phil Kluesner

Managing partner, GPP/Gannett Peak Partners

An avid mountain climber, Phil Kluesner, founder and managing partner of GPP/Gannett Peak Partners in Edina, sees strategic similarities between climbing and running his tenant/buyer advisory firm.

After climbing Mount Rainier in 2003, Kluesner reached the highest peak in Wyoming in 2004 -- Gannett Peak -- for which his company is named. He's also reached the highest peaks in Utah, Idaho and Montana and his goal is to reach the highest point in each state.

"Teamwork has to occur when you're roped up and going over crevasses, just like teamwork is important in business," Kluesner, 51, says. "And there's a parallel with tenants, too; we're there to support their leasing efforts and it's a collaborative, supportive approach."

Before launching his firm in 2004, Kluesner worked for Welsh Cos. (now called Colliers International) and Duke Realty Corp. His firm has represented clients in more than 800 transactions.

QYou previously did a lot of landlord representation work. Why launch a firm representing tenants?

AYou develop a deeper relationship with your clients and it's much more rewarding because you're really an advocate for them as opposed to being "the Vanna White" and showing a space 10 times. We call on companies and say, "Hey listen, real estate is probably a top-five expense on your income sheet. We think you should have someone on your side at the negotiating table to help renew your lease or relocate you."

QAs a smaller boutique firm, how do you compete with the big firms?

AI'm really focused on social media this year. My theory is the future CEOs are my kids' ages and they're all over it. That's how they're going to communicate. It's really become a prevalent branding for a lot of companies, so I have Facebook and a Twitter account. It's a way to give your company a personality; mine's around climbing and outdoor activities.

QWhat are you focusing on most these days?

ASeventy percent of our business today is lease renewals. Tenants want us to help make sure they're meeting or exceeding the market, but they want to stay put. We'll go out and solicit leasing proposals from other landlords and bring those back to the existing landlord and say, "This is where you need to be."

Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at