NAI Optimum | 1701 48th St., Suite 111, West Des Moines | Phone: (515) 309-4002
NAI Optimum | 1701 48th St., Suite 111, West Des Moines | Phone: (515) 309-4002
A new name will emerge on the commercial real estate market July 1, but a well-known name is behind the business.

NAI Optimum is the new business. It is owned and led by Kurt Mumm, a commercial real estate broker who has worked for more than 20 years in the Greater Des Moines market.

Last year, Mumm bought the Greater Des Moines operation of NAI Ruhl & Ruhl Commercial Co., a brokerage that he presided over since August 2004.

Ruhl & Ruhl has operated in Iowa since the late 19th century, but it was Mumm and his crew who established its presence in Greater Des Moines and grew the company to one of the top five commercial real estate property managers in the metro area.

Mumm said little consideration was given to adding a second “m” to the end of Optimum, a name that was selected after several meetings with his six-member board of directors.

“We do enough business outside Greater Des Moines that we thought changing the spelling would cause too much confusion,” Mumm said.

The affiliation with international real estate firm NAI Global, which was bought last year by C-III Capital Partners LLC, will continue.

Mumm could have continued to use the Ruhl & Ruhl name for another four years after the purchase last year. But he was anxious to put his brand on the company.

The name change has prompted some challenges, the main one being locating all of the Ruhl & Ruhl advertising signs that are scattered throughout Greater Des Moines.

“We’re still counting” the number of signs that have to be replaced. “We have a lot of plywood out there,” Mumm said.

The company has a staff of 37 and manages about 2.8 million square feet of property. That figure is down slightly from pre-recession numbers. After taking the helm in 2004, Mumm expanded the brokerage by establishing a property management operation.

He also maintained a steady revenue stream during the recession by making the West Des Moines operation a go-to receiver for banks and special servicers who took on properties with problem loans.

Mumm entered the local market in the 1990s after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa. He went to work first for Iowa Commercial Realty, then spent eight years at Grubb & Ellis/Mid-America Pacific before leaving to join NAI Ruhl & Ruhl.

He began conversations four or five years ago with Ruhl & Ruhl head Charles Ruhl about buying the brokerage, when the real estate market was entering a difficult time.

Mumm said he saw opportunities in the changing market, and those opportunities are increasing with an improving economy.

“There’s a ton of opportunity in this marketplace,” he said.

Outside of Greater Des Moines, the brokerage also manages properties in Ames, Carroll, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Newton.