Mary Francis Cowan, Senior Broker, Grubb & Ellis Quantum Commercial

A Tennessee native who moved to Colorado Springs in the mid-1970s, commercial real estate broker Mary Francis Cowan finds opportunity during both up and down cycles.
A licensed real estate professional since 1979, before joining Grubb & Ellis Quantum Commercial Inc., Cowan was a partner and owner in Commercial Properties Group, a full-service commercial brokerage company.
She joined Grubb & Ellis in 1996, specializing in office leasing and the sale of investment properties. During her 25 years in commercial real estate, she has been consistently recognized as a top producer in the Colorado Springs area.
“You just have to understand the market and translate it into opportunity for your client,” she said.
Following her move to the Pikes Peak region, for example, as a new broker she had to weather one of the economy’s most dramatic downturns from 1989 to 1991. During those years Colorado Springs was dubbed the “foreclosure capital of the country” by national media, and a number of real estate developers and lenders went out of business.
Cowan persisted, and while she acknowledged that it was “a frightening time for those losing properties” she added that “it was a time of wonderful opportunity for investors who could buy property at 25 percent of replacement cost.”
That even-keeled approach, coupled with extensive experience, has served her well in both the business world and in her personal life.
“She’s the total package,” said Dale Stamp, president of Grubb & Ellis Quantum Commercial, and the person who nominated Cowan as a woman of influence. “As a commercial broker, Mary Francis is hard working, very ethical, reliable, professional and always presents herself in a classy way.”
Stamp also points to Cowan’s reputation as the city’s top-producing female commercial broker for the last 10 years, evidenced by her track record for closing more than $60 million in transactions during the past 18 months. She also has been a Top Five producer for her company for the past seven years, he said.
“Even in a highly competitive, male-dominated business with plenty of Type A personalities, no one ever says anything negative about her,” Stamp said. “We’re lucky to have her on our team.”
When not working with out-of-state clients searching for land to buy or scouring the landscape for a good investment with a strong cap rate, Cowan finds time to volunteer as a board member for Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Pikes Peak Region. She has also volunteered with Pikes Peak United Way and is a past chairwoman of the Realtors Commercial Industrial Society.
Her experience on the CASA board has been especially rewarding — and she said her eyes have been opened to the reality of what abused and neglected children experience in the court system.
“It certainly brings it into better focus that there are people in real need in our community,” Cowan said. “So often we get so caught up in what we’re doing that we don’t realize how much need there is.”
As a member of her industry, Cowan was recognized in 1998 as Commercial Realtor of the Year and as one of CSBJ’s Top 20 Influential People in Commercial and Residential Real Estate in 2002. She also has earned the Certified Commercial Investment Member designation.
Today she gets regular calls from investors in Atlanta or Las Vegas who are interested in getting into the Colorado Springs market.
“Now that we’ve surpassed the 500,000-mark in population, we’re well-positioned to attract new companies and investment,” she said, adding that steady job growth and high quality of life contribute to the area’s marketability.
In addition to a full career and community involvement, Cowan also enjoys spending time with her family and husband, Gary.
Her career continues at full speed, and the broker expects 2006 to be another good year for the commercial real estate industry.
“I’d like to spend more time with my family, improve my golf game and travel more, but I still enjoy my work,” she said, adding that she especially likes Grubb & Ellis Quantum Commercial’s emphasis on mentoring younger brokers.
“Russell Stroud is working with me now,” Cowan said. “I hope he finds as much opportunity as I have had to work with good clients and a sharp brokerage community.”