The federal government is expected to spend $100 billion on the nation’s largest commercial freight brokerage firm this year.
But what happens when the broker’s workday is not long enough?
For some companies, the answer is “not very much.”
According to the American Freight Association, only about 3 percent of its business is handled by a licensed broker, which includes commercial brokers in the rail, truck, marine and trucking industries.
In addition, the freight broker license is not a formalized license that can be used for other purposes.
“It’s a very, very, small number of brokers that are licensed to do a lot of the brokerage work,” said Joe Gagnon, president of the American Board of Commercial Real Estate.
In the past, he said, some brokers were licensed to handle a limited number of clients, but many are not.
Gagnon said the number of commercial brokers licensed to work in the U.S. has increased by about 60 percent since 2001, when it peaked at about 9,000.
“That’s the number that we’re talking about, the number we’ve seen increase,” he said.
“And we have to ask ourselves, how many of those commercial brokers are doing their jobs properly?”
When you look at the number, it’s not that high, he added.
Commercial brokers can be licensed in many states, but in most cases, they must be licensed within a few months of moving into a new office.
That’s usually within 30 days of opening.
But some brokers do not apply for the commercial broker license at all, or they wait until they get their license, which takes about a year.
“Some of them do it for a year, some of them for three years,” said Gagnons father, Bob.
“There are some brokers that have not even gotten their license in 30 days,” he added, “and they’re working as a part-time broker.”
Some commercial brokers work for many years.
Bob GagnON, who is now a commercial broker in Los Angeles, says that for the most part, he’s seen brokers who are still licensed in their 30s or 40s.
Bob Gagnón has been licensed as a commercial real estate broker since 2000.
He said that when he first started in the business, he had no idea what a commercial license was.
“I didn’t know what the hell it was,” he recalled.
“But when I started working for some clients, I was like, ‘OK, this is it.'”
Bob Gagón said he started by working on their commercial property and was later able to get licensed to deal with larger projects.
“Then I started dealing with larger commercial projects, and I just got more and more experience,” he continued.
“And then I started being able to work on smaller commercial projects as well.”
Gagnons dad is a commercial property manager for the same firm.
Bob said he also has had clients who had been in the field for 30 or 40 years, but they’ve not been able to find a commercial brokerage that is licensed.
“You need to hire a real estate attorney to take care of the paperwork,” he explained.
“You have to hire someone that’s a licensed real estate agent, that’s licensed to operate in a commercial business, that has a license.”
In the meantime, Bob said he does the best he can.
“If somebody doesn’t get a license, then they’re out of luck,” he stressed.
“We’ve never had a problem in our company with a client who didn’t get their commercial license.”
Bob and his family own a large commercial property in Los Gatos, California, and Bob said they often need to go through paperwork and pay thousands of dollars to get their brokers licenses.
“Our main concern is that somebody is going to come and rip off us, and then we can’t work with them anymore,” he told ABC News.
Bob has had his own commercial broker problems, too.
“One time, I had a guy who came in who wanted to do his own business in the area,” he recounted.
“We didn’t really know what he was doing.”
Bob says that in his experience, many brokers want to work for a fee to get a commercial licensure, but the brokers do a bad job of handling paperwork.
“They do a really poor job of telling you what their licenses are, how they work and how to get it,” he concluded.