GRUBER COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE SERVICES
About Us

Our Story

A family business — where customers become family

Gruber Commercial Real Estate Services was founded by Jim and Karen Gruber in 2004. After 28 years as a broker for CBRE (originally Coldwell Banker Real Commercial Real Estate), Jim had built a rock-solid reputation and customer base. He’d long been considered one of the Denver metro’s leading industrial brokers. He even had the support of a stellar sales associate, Karen. Business was good. Life was even better.

That changed when Jim learned that CBRE was planning to make the brokers’ clients the company’s clients. Having spent his career building a roster of loyal clients who’d become his friends, Jim didn’t take kindly to the idea. He wanted to continue serving his clients the way he saw fit. “I won the battle but lost the war,” he explains, and he and CBRE agreed to part company. He took Karen with him.

As Gruber Commercial Real Estate Services, Jim and Karen gloried in providing their clients with even better service and results. They could make decisions on the spot, invest time in the neighborhoods they wanted, and preserve the people-focused approach they believed in. They could do right by their customers/friends while cutting out the costly overhead.

The birth of Russellville

In 2007, Gruber Commercial was doing very well. The existing team needed help to continue its growth and support its clients. Jim gave Russell the chance to join the family business in early 2007. The role was a boots-on-the-ground, door-knocking, cold-calling position. With some recommended guidance from Jim on where to begin geographically, Russell created the world of Russellville — essentially the Central Denver Market area now known as RiNo, Globeville, and anything in the 80216 zip code. Early on, this market was lower-priced, older, and often functionally obsolete industrial real estate. Today, this market — in which Russell is a well-established leader — is one of the nation’s hottest and most-talked-about areas.

Late2004

Gruber CRES founded

Gruber Commercial Real Estate Services was founded by Jim and Karen Gruber

Early2007

Russellville

Russell joins the family business

Early2019

Well-Established

Though we’re a small shop, we’re well-established in the big leagues.

The best free agent in the big leagues

Though we’re a small shop, we’re well-established in the big leagues. In competitive situations, we’re the only shop our size that stacks up against big-name firms such as CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, and Jones Lang Lasalle. Fortunately, we’re most often in sole-source situations, referred to new clients by happy past clients. Our reputation and relationships are the foundation for our continued success. Our typical deal size ranges from 2,500 SF up to a major portfolio sale in the $40,000,000.00 value range.

People, not dollar signs

We’re proud of our client-centric, big-picture approach to real estate, in which people are always the most important part of any transaction. Anyone can sell your property. The hard part is figuring out what’s next for you, helping you grow your business in a way that makes sense.

That’s why we’ll be by your side for the long haul, from start to finish and long into the future. We genuinely care about our customers, their businesses, their families, and their long-term success. When you work with us, you join our family.

More About Our Team

Specialties

  • Seller/buyer representation and lease negotiations
  • Creative deal structuring for sales and lease transactions, dispositions, and acquisitions
  • Facility relocation
  • Environmental mitigation
  • Broker opinions of value (BOVs)

Recent honors

  • 2018 #2 DMCAR Small Shop Broker
  • 2018 Gruber Commercial Real Estate Top Producer
  • 2017 Top 10 Industrial Brokers in Colorado
  • 2017 8th Top Broker, Newmark Knight Frank

Russell Gruber

Owner, Broker, and Industrial Specialist
Professional background

It’s the people who keep Russell motivated. “My customers are the most amazing people,” he says. He’s at home among the down-to-earth, hard-working, successful people who make up Colorado’s industrial community. They’re his friends, mentors, colleagues, and the reason he loves going to work every day.

Since 2007, Russell has been 100% dedicated to serving industrial clients’ real estate needs in Colorado. Much more than a broker, Russell serves as a trusted advisor to his customers. He has personally completed more than $300M in transactions over the course of his career. Within the commercial real estate industry, Russell has quickly become known as a leading broker who has what it takes to close deals of all sizes. Recent sample deals include $10M for a future development and repurpose opportunity adjoining the National Western Stock Show, $7.3M for a fully leased triple net investment sale, $5M for future RiNo expansion development land, and $4.4M for a scrap metal plant expansion.

Though Russell works with clients in and outside of Colorado, he’s strongly focused on RiNo, Elyria-Swansea, and Globeville central market industrial product. His deep understanding of Denver’s central industrial market is integral to his success. He has strong relationships throughout the community: He knows who to call, where to look, and how to connect the right people. He’s been known to source properties that aren’t even on the market yet.

Russell began his real estate career with Gruber Commercial in 2007. Despite a strong start, he wanted to prove he had what it took to succeed in real estate, without riding on his dad’s coattails. Between 2011 and early 2018, Russell worked with top firms Grubb & Ellis and Newmark Knight Frank. At Newmark Knight Frank, Russell ranked in the top ten industrial brokers for Colorado. In 2018, to his family’s delight, Russell returned to Gruber Commercial.

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    A long and winding road

    Russell is the first to admit his career and education haven’t followed a standard trajectory. He grew up skateboarding around the Denver warehouses of his dad’s clients. A self-described “hard-headed kid,” he completed high school at St. John’s Military School in Salina, KS. After a few years of messing around and trying his dad’s patience, Russell spent several years in the Coast Guard. Upon his return, he took classes at Metro State College of Denver. When Russell and Jim realized

    Russell was at last ready to get his priorities in order, Jim gave him his shot in real estate as part of Gruber Commercial.
    Russell knows he’s lucky to have had a leg up in a highly competitive business. Daily, he aims to prove to his customers that he deserves their trust, friendship, and ongoing business.

    Family matters

    Russell is a lifetime Coloradoan. He grew up in Greenwood Village, and he, his wife Michelle, and his two boys, four-year-old Kingsley and one-year-old Wesley, now live a driver’s shot away from the home where he grew up. (He says, “But I’m not a golfer, so I probably couldn’t do it.”) Russell is proud to call out that, aside from his career, he’s in full-on dad mode.

    Though she doesn’t officially work for Gruber Commercial, Michelle is indispensable to the business. Smart, driven, and seemingly tireless, she is, in Russell’s words, the “true heavy hitter” of the family. In addition to being a fantastic mom to the boys, Michelle works as an Assistant VP at First American Bank. She co-founded and runs the Village Toy Drive charity.

    Russell is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and an avid snowboarder. He still skateboards, but only with Kingsley. He and Kingsley keep up a regular wrestling regimen, each taking the role of a different Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. (Kingsley is always Michelangelo.)

Jim Gruber

Co-founder
Professional background

When Jim Gruber started Gruber Commercial Real Estate Services in 2004, he had already received a lifetime achievement award and had a CBRE conference room named after him. While CBRE, his employer for the prior 28 years, seemed to be signaling the wrap-up of his career, Jim was ready to launch a new venture. With his co-founder Karen in tow, he says, “We left on Friday and opened Gruber Commercial on Monday. We didn’t lose a single customer. We hit the ground running and have kicked ass ever since.”

Jim ended his tenure at CBRE as a Senior Vice President, the highest recognition given to any CBRE salesperson. He was honored among the company’s top ten salespeople for several years running, and was their top industrial salesperson through much of the ‘90s. While at CBRE, he represented clients like the Ford Motor Company, Cargill, and Northwestern Mutual Life. Jim was recognized as a Denver metro industry leader for larger industrial properties.

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    Investing in Denver’s industrial community

    Jim is happy to be a third-generation Denverite. When he launched Gruber Commercial in 2004, it was natural that he remain focused on serving central Denver’s industrial community. “We worked with people, not corporations,” he says.

    Jim was responsible for bringing in business and conducting deals. (“He was the rainmaker and I took care of all the details,” explains Karen.)

    The changing of the guard

    Though Jim is still active in some parts of Gruber’s business, he’s no longer making outgoing calls. These days, he’s primarily focused on maintaining his own real estate investments and taking care of his tenants. He also consults on real estate transactions for friends and past colleagues.

    Ultimately, Jim and Karen are happy to have more time to devote to other endeavors, including spending time with Russell’s 10-year-old sister Jamie. And Jim is thrilled to see Russell thriving in the business he and Karen built. “I’ve seen him with his customers. They just love him,” he says. “He stepped into a machine that works, and he knows it. I can’t believe how smart he is. He’s the real deal, and I’m totally proud of him. He’s going to surpass anything I ever thought of. It’s wonderful.” He doesn’t even mind too much that Russell has co-opted several of his best lines and jokes. “Anyway, he’s got some original material now,” says Jim.

Karen Gruber

Co-founder
Professional background

While Karen’s route to becoming the co-founder of an industrial real estate business was less deliberate, it was still based on a foundation of relationships. Most of her career choices have been the direct result of Karen’s willingness to support the personal and professional endeavors of people she cares about.
Karen moved to Denver at the age of 21 from Madison, Wisconsin. Her parents had invested in a local kids’ play center franchise called “Discovery Zone,” and they wanted her to manage it. While she had no idea what she was getting into in moving to Colorado, she feels incredibly lucky. “I was going where the wind took me,” she says.

Ultimately, the wind took her into real estate. She first worked for Denver’s largest multifamily apartment housing developers, Kalvess and Carmel Partners. She was later hired by CBRE to be Jim’s marketing assistant. Jim explains, “She was my sales associate. The best we ever had at the company.”

Without Karen, Jim wouldn’t have made the decision to leave CBRE and start his own business. In Jim’s retelling, Karen’s involvement is a crucial part of the rainmaking magic. “I hook ‘em, she lands ‘em,” he says. “Whenever I introduced her to a client, it was done. They just loved her. She’s cuddly. She cares. She’s also got a great brain and is a tremendous mathematician.” Indeed, for the next 15 years, Karen was crucial to the success of the business. She served as Gruber Commercial’s sales manager, marketing manager, accountant, and legal assistant all rolled into one.

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    A partnership based on strong relationships — and a strong marriage

    Ultimately, Jim and Karen’s partnership became even more all-encompassing: They got married in 2005, only a year after launching the business together. Daughter Jamie came along in 2008.

    Karen and Jim’s commitment to each other further strengthened their business partnership. In addition, as Karen explains, “Our business thrived because of Jim’s relationships. Our clients became our great friends. They come stay with us, have dinner with us, and go places with us. We made lifelong friends through the business.”

    Ready for the next adventure

    While Karen, too, will always be involved in some aspects of Gruber Commercial, she’s also ready to expand her purview into new areas. She recently started a coaching business to help moms struggling to find work, life, and family solutions. She offers workshops, one-on-one coaching, and online courses focused on helping women get what they want out of their lives while also being really great moms. The work is rewarding, and it also gives her the opportunity to fulfill that goal for herself: She enjoys her work, but she enjoys her daughter even more.


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