Kris Axtell enjoyed the productive market as a banker with Wells Fargo.
In 2013, however, Axtell decided to make a change after 10 years in the industry. He said he felt the bank wasn’t moving at the speed of the market, and the limited portfolio the bank offered to small businesses made him consider a move.
Axtell then founded Luna Capital, an advisory, a brokerage and real estate firm based out of Santa Fe, shortly after leaving the bank. Most of Luna’s work is done with small businesses and through the first few years of the firm, Axtell’s found ways to capitalize on an area where small businesses need a jump start, but can’t find one.
"Some of the resources that we’ve brought into the market, are for projects that don’t necessarily fit the buckets for local banks or credit unions," he said. "We spend a lot of our time making sure the clients have the local resources, but out-of-state resources as well."
As a fee-for-service business, the company only makes money when its clients have successful transactions.
"I want to make sure everybody is working as hard as they need to through the success of the client," Axtell said. "At the end of the day, if the client’s not successful, that’s our business model. … I’m OK with that internal pressure."
Up until Dec. 2016, it was just Axtell and his clients. He brought on Brandon Fitzpatrick as Luna’s chief operation officers and qualifying broker after years of working on commercial real estate appraisals. Axtell’s wife, Tiphini, joined the Luna team earlier this year as the company’s director of communications.
In 2017, Luna doubled its revenue and expects to triple it by the end of the year. Axtell said success from early clients and word of mouth from those clients have helped springboard Luna’s growth over the past few years. Axtell said the goal for Luna is to reach $200 million in loan volume by the end of the year is within reach. As of this quarter, he said, Luna stands at about $125 million.
"We have some large projects with some big clients that are happening this year," Fitzpatrick said. "The access you have to incredible people here in New Mexico, I don’t think you find that in other places."
Last month, Axtell brought Davies Crasta onboard as his development officer, who also came from the banking world and transacted nearly $500 million in volume. Between his and Crasta’s both small business and big-picture approach to banking, combined with Fitzpatrick’s real estate expertise, Axtell feels comfortable with the team he’s assembling as it covers many areas of client needs. Ken Dobbs, who oversees Luna’s Las Cruces operations, also adds to the community banking acumen of the team.
"At the end of the day, he wanted to make more of an impact for his clients, and that’s what we try to do," Axtell said of Crasta, who he’s known for 10 years.
What Axtell said he is enjoying most about his growing business in the Land of Enchantment is the personal relationships he’s built with clients.
"The biggest reason we haven’t left for other market opportunities is the friends and network that we’ve built here in New Mexico," he said. "It’s a tight network like I haven’t seen in other places."
Largest New Mexico Commercial Real Estate Firms
Ranked by 2017 commercial transactions value
Rank Business name 2017 commercial transactions value 1 CBRE New Mexico $447.24 million 2 NAI Maestas & Ward Commercial Real Estate $193.7 million 3 Colliers International | Albuquerque-Santa Fe $179.65 million View This List