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baltimoresun.com

Harford realty firm RKS joins MacKenzie Commercial

BY DAVID ANDERSON, daanderson@baltsun.com

5:18 PM EDT, May 6, 2014

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RKS Realty, a major player in Harford County commercial real estate for more than 25 years, has been acquired by a larger, regional firm seeking to expand its reach in Harford and surrounding areas.

MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services LLC's takeover of Bel Air-based RKS was effective last Thursday.

"They approached us with a very favorable officer," Donnell "Beetle" Smith, a partner with RKS Realty, said Monday.

"The opportunity to bring together the local relationships and market knowledge of RKS with the larger, more comprehensive platform here at MacKenzie will allow us to expand our client services to more property and business owners," Thomas Fidler Jr., executive vice president with MacKenzie, said in a statement.

The RKS addition will double the firms' presence in both office and retail, bringing the total number of represented listings in the area to 98 properties, according to the statement.

RKS Realty was founded in 1988 by Fred Kern and Roger Rice. Smith started as an associate broker and later became a partner, thus the acronym RKS stands for Rice, Kern and Smith.

"As the population in Harford County grew, we were able to take advantage of the various retail, office, flex warehouse growth in the market," Smith said.

Kern sold his ownership stake to Smith and current co-owner Tom Mottley in 2007. Kern remains with the company as an associate broker. Rice, the other founder, left the firm several years ago.

Mottley is the former owner of an Ingersoll-Rand air compressor distribution business. He also developed the Putt Putt Fun Center in Abingdon.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to grow and expand the services we provide our clients," Mottley said in a statement. "MacKenzie's corporate culture is a fine match that will allow us greater flexibility and creativity in managing our relationships, allowing us the ability to laser-focus on their priorities."

Smith said RKS controls about 70 percent of the listings of offices for lease or sale in Harford County. The company serves the commercial real estate market from Baltimore to Elkton, he said.

"We've continued to grow RKS Realty here in Harford county and branched into Cecil County," Smith said.

Some of its major listings include office space in the Box Hill Corporate Center in Abingdon and office and flex warehouse space in the Forest Hill Industrial Park, according to the RKS website.

The company has also had an "instrumental role in the development and growth" of Harford County projects such as the Water's Edge Events Center in Belcamp, the Riverside Industrial Park, University Center of Northeastern Maryland in Aberdeen, and Boulevard at Box Hill shopping center in Abingdon, according to the news release.

It has a four-person staff, including owners Smith and Mottley, as well as Kern and Richard Darrell.

Darrell, an associate broker, joined in 2013, but he will not be part of MacKenzie, according to Smith. He will instead be working for the Commercial Brokerage Group of Baltimore.

MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services is one of seven companies under The MacKenzie Companies umbrella.

"They have a much larger marketing and IT and will give us a lot more support than we have ourselves," Smith said.

MacKenzie is headquartered in Lutherville, and the company has a workforce of more than 140 people providing real estate, financing, property management, commercial and residential property development, construction and data services.

The company has offices throughout the Baltimore region, including one in Abingdon where Fidler works. Fidler also is a member of the Harford County Liquor Control Board and a former president of the Harford County Board of Education.

The members of the former RKS team will remain in their offices on Churchville Road in Bel Air until their lease ends in late 2014. Smith said their new location must still be determined.