“You didn't have to love me like you did
But you did, but you did
And I thank you.” – Sam & Dave
It didn’t always feel like love, but over the last twenty years, I have had a lot of help along the way. In this post, I would like to take the opportunity to thank a few of the key people along the way.
I will miss many, but it would be impossible to thank every client, every landlord, every tenant, every broker, every member of the support teams, and everyone I have worked with for the last twenty years. However, the truth is that they have all contributed to my career. Every deal done and not done provided valuable lessons. The people mentioned here have had the biggest impact, and I saved my “big three” for the end.
Joe Romano hired me into the business at Grubb & Ellis. He cared enough to advise me to shave my goatee (they were fashionable in the late 90’s, although mine was a bit of a disaster), and he told me to “Go do it” on my first day, November 2, 1998. When I asked, “Go do what?” he replied, “Go do real estate.” I have been doing it since, and he remains a great friend and mentor to this day. Thank you for hiring a 24-year old kid who knew nothing about real estate and giving him a chance.
My early mentors at Grubb & Ellis included Ray Sohmer and Doug Petrozzini, and later Lee Kosmac and Joel Orenstein. Ray handed me my first money-making assignment, which was 55 BOV’s at $100 each. He, Doug and I went to lunch most days, and I learned a lot working with them on some small and larger deals in my first few years. Doug came to CBRE a few years ago and I love working with him to this day. He’s a true professional and his RFP was the base that I used throughout my leasing career. Lee and Joel taught me how to systematically canvass and develop business. When I was unprepared for my first foot canvassing session with Lee, she wasn’t afraid to let me know it. Obviously, I was never unprepared again. Those early lessons remain with me. Thank you all.
My friend, former client, and former boss Pat Luzzi got the ball rolling to bring us to CBRE. He asked for years while we were under contract at Cushman & Wakefield and never gave up. He gets little to no credit, but I have never forgotten. Coming to CBRE was a gamechanger for my career, and I owe a big debt of gratitude to Uncle Pat for his persistence and his guidance throughout the years. His advice has always been on point.
Jeff Hipschman, my boss, has been a true partner during my time at CBRE. He acted as the point person to get our deal done to come to CBRE and has provided tremendous support since Day One. Without his support and counsel, my move to capital markets would not have been possible. If I had my choice, he would be the last boss I work for in my career.
I have been lucky to have many clients throughout the years. I would love to name them all, but three stand out. Art Elman gave me and my partners an opportunity to win a piece of the ADP business when we were at Cushman & Wakefield, and he stuck with us during our move to CBRE. Art taught me more about negotiation than anyone in my career. He had seen it all by the time we started working together, and he always took the time to explain why he wanted things done a certain way. I have referred to him as Yoda at times because he was truly the master.
Bob Floyd is a tough guy. He has jokingly threatened to kick my ass many times. He is also one of the smartest real estate people I have met in my career. Working with him for 15 years forced me to bring my A-game to every pitch, every phone call, every interaction…you get the point. Having Bob tell me that I did a good job was always a HUGE win. The biggest lesson he taught me, which I have written about in the past, was about the importance of running a good process. If the process is good, the outcome is almost academic. However, if the process is sloppy and lacking, the outcome is always questionable.
If I had to guess, during my leasing career, I worked on more deals that involved Bonnie Ballister than anyone else. I wasn’t always a good listener and communicator when we worked on deals together. My mother told me as a kid that different children need different things. Bonnie taught me that clients are the same. Each has a way that they wanted to be communicated with, and I was best served to accommodate their needs as opposed to imposing my methods on them. This may be one of the most important of the lessons I have learned. I didn’t always get it right, but it wasn’t from a lack of trying.
When I started at Cushman & Wakefield in 2001, I sat on the other side of the cubicle wall from Annette Pelusio. Technically, I guess she was our assistant, but she was more like my big sister, except she had no desire for a little brother. She was an adult and I was a kid. I got the tough love…but love nonetheless. She would help me choose my benefits and teach me how to do things around the office to improve my skill set. She left us for a while after she became a mother only to came back when we joined CBRE. She ran every administrative aspect of the team, allowing me and Joe to focus on servicing our clients and finding new ones. When we moved into the new space in East Brunswick, we sat next to each other in the open seating, again sharing a cubicle wall. She is simply the best. Netty…I can’t thank you enough for everything.
Matt Wassel reads every blog post before you do because he edits them. He did it when we worked together and still does so even though he’s moved on to Saxum. He is a unicorn among his millennial peers in that he knows the proper use of punctuation and sentence structure. He joined our team and went along with some crazy ideas I had about how a junior person should be trained. He knocked it out of the park in every way and became a member of the family along the way. We will work together again at some point in our careers, likely me working for him, and I look forward to it.
My new team, led by Jeff Dunne, has been more than I could ask for as I made the switch from leasing to capital markets. Jeff has been a great mentor, teaching me a new area of the business, being patient with some repeated questions, and being open to the fact that I have a strong skill set that can benefit the team. He also demands excellence and encourages me to think in ways that I haven’t in the past. Travis Langer, Julianne Brown, Joanna Reilly and the rest of the team have all welcomed me and answered at least a few dumb questions along the way. I promise…I am getting better!
Speaking of my new team, Zach McHale stopped by my office on my first day in my new role and asked if we had a spot for him on the team. At that time, we didn’t, but a few persistent months later, a role opened up for him and he jumped right on it. A few months later, Stephanie Mingalone joined our group and the two of them show up to work hard every day, both with amazing attitudes, big smiles, and a commitment to doing great work. The three of us have a great time working together and I look forward to many more years working with them.
And now for the big three:
In 1999, Joe Romano introduced me to Michael Beckerman because we were both big Bruce fans. In Michael, I met someone who shared my same ideas about friendship, humanity, family, and so much more. He has been my rabbi, my biggest cheerleader, my advocate, and promoted me to his friends and clients at every opportunity. When he left the PR world and started a new career in CRE Tech, he brought me along for the ride and helped me create a niche within that space. I wouldn’t be the person I am had I not met him, and I wouldn’t have had the same career without his help. The beauty of our relationship is that I would bet he feels the same way about me. Lucky for us, we have a lot more to do together.
Joe Sarno and I were partners from 2001 to 2017. We built a business from next to nothing when I joined his team to one of the most successful teams in the New Jersey market. Most senior brokers force their junior guys to leave in order to move up. When I joined Joe’s team in 2001, he told me what was expected and how to move up within the team. He was true to his word, allowing me to move from junior to equal partner by the end of our time together. Our friendship was a bonus on top of our success from the start, despite rooting for bitter sports rivals.
While I have amazing support and love from my entire family, my father, Phil Neuer, opened the door for my career in real estate in so many ways. He not only introduced me to Joe Romano, but he gave me his entire Rolodex on my first day. He taught me that real estate is not about bricks and mortar; it’s a relationship business. He answered every (dumb) legal question I have had for the last 20 years, making me look smart (not easy) many times along the way. Simply, I wouldn’t be here without him…literally.
To those that I mentioned here and those that I forgot to mention…thank you. It’s been a great ride so far. I have a lot more to do, but I couldn’t have gotten this far without you.
As Sam and Dave sang…”I thank you!”