In January, Elysia Ragusa became president and COO of corporate service provider The Staubach Co. Responsible for the company's day-to-day operations, Ragusa, a 14-year employee of the Dallas-based firm established by football great Roger Staubach in 1977, most recently served as president of Staubach's real estate services division.

Ragusa plans to put her experience to use as she attacks her top priorities: growing the firm's overall market share and its industrial service area. Currently, Staubach has 52 offices and 1,100 employees in the Americas. Ragusa recently talked with NREI about her goal to grow Staubach into one of the country's top three corporate service firms.

NREI: Describe your new responsibilities. For example, how involved is Roger Staubach in the business that bears his name?

Ragusa: I am supporting Roger, who is remaining very active in the company, but he is primarily focused on decisions. We jointly develop strategy. He is spending most of his time with our customers. I am overseeing the day-to-day operations.

NREI: Where does Staubach stand among real estate service providers, and how does it differentiate itself from its competition?

Ragusa: In the corporate services business, we are in the top five. Our user focus differentiates us. Many of our competitors are dealing with landlords and building owners, but our focus is on the end user.

NREI: So does your business focus largely on tenant representation?

Ragusa: It is predominantly tenant rep, but “tenant rep” has become a catch word. One of the key points of our vision is to focus on corporate end-user services. We have a real estate administration group that looks at leases and lease audits, and keeping up that business for a lot of companies. But those companies also are corporate end users. So that piece of our business is not what anyone would traditionally call tenant rep. But it is a support line of our business because it is serving the end user.

NREI: What challenges does Staubach face as it continues to grow?

Ragusa: The biggest challenge to growth on the service side is training. You have to take the time to train people and to communicate best practices. The second-biggest challenge to growth is our economic climate right now. Like everyone else, our company deals with the national business cycles, so you just have to stay the course.

NREI: How do you protect clients in this environment?

Ragusa: There are a number of risks such as volatile market value or illiquidity. Sometimes the risk involves signing a long-term lease obligation when your business plan may not be clear.

NREI: Do you see these risks changing?

Ragusa: The current climate does magnify the risks. It is not that the real estate has changed; it is that the businessman today, because of what is going on, has a less-than-clear crystal ball.