Duwane ‘Duke’ Suwyn President, Chief Executive Officer Colliers International, West Michigan Grand Rapids, Mich.
As president and chief executive officer of Colliers International, West Michigan, Duke Suwyn is known for crafting creative solutions to complex transactions, big projects such as the successful redevelopment of the former Bosch Manufacturing facility and the sale of the 5-5-million-square-foot Steelcase campus in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Because of successes such as these, Suwyn has become one of the foremost industrial specialists in the West Michigan market, and has an appreciation for projects that are challenging and unique. This fits in well with his unconventional journey to the top position at the West Michigan office of Colliers.
Starting in 1980, Suwyn co-owned a farm equipment business in the midst of what he referred to as “tough years for that industry.” Turnovers were rampant as companies and suppliers went out of business. Suwyn decided to pursue a different route, too.
Suwyn contacted real estate brokers about a commercial building he needed to sell, and when one of these brokers asked about his plans, Suwyn candidly replied that he had no clue where he was headed next. That conversation ultimately led to his introduction into the real estate industry. Even though he lacked direct experience, Suwyn quickly made an impact in the industrial market. Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce soon took note of his accomplishments, and in 1998 asked him to come onboard. He became a partner, and eventually took the key positions of president and chief executive officer. Recently, the company went through a name change to Colliers International, West Michigan.
As a leader, Suwyn believes in doing everything that he can to help people work within their unique abilities. He tries to achieve this goal by leading by example. Suwyn readily praises the people with whom he works, crediting them for not only their work but for the lessons they have taught him.
Suwyn’s talents haven’t gone unnoticed. He was named CAR’s Realtor of the Year in 2010. He received the Sale of the Year award with the Urban Land Use Institute in 2009 and again in 2011. In 2010 he won CAR’s Biggest Industrial Lease award, and has been a seven-time winner of the Grubb & Ellis Circle of Excellence Award.