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John Cushman comes home.

Last summer's merger of Cushman Realty with Cushman & Wakefield was a homecoming, of sorts.

John C. Cushman III and his twin brother Louis returned to the firm that their grandfather, J. Clydesdale Cushman, and great-uncle, Bernard Wakefield, founded in 1917.

The brothers represent their family's sixth generation to work in real estate. The seventh generation--their children--are already at it.

Since 1978, Cushman III lived and worked on the West Coast, where his renown as a broker took on mythical proportions. He became known to some as "Mr. Los Angeles" for the volume of major deals he saw through. Others called him the "super broker."

A better description is "battle-ready," an expression Cushman often uses.

His single greatest feat took place in New York City years ago, however, when he negotiated Merrill Lynch's lease at the World Financial Center--all four million SF of it.

Cushman is now Cushman & Wakefield's chairman of the board. His brother Louis is vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield.

He still lives and works in Los Angeles, but much of his time is spent on the wing, flying across the country and abroad for business. There appear to be few places that Cushman wouldn't go for business.

Cushman Realty and Cushman & Wakefield reportedly discussed the possibility of a merger for ten years. Their alliance offers what Cushman terms "more arrows in the quiver," when it comes to serving clients throughout the world.

The combined firms now have 965 brokers in 174 offices throughout the world. The terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

Prior to the merger, Cushman Realty was a major competitor of Cushman & Wakefield's on the West Coast.

"Cushman Realty was like the special forces. We had all the tools, were agile and nimble. We could effectively operate under the radar," says Cushman, sixty-years-old.

Stealth was an asset, but Cushman Realty had vulnerabilities that were often exploited by its larger nemesis.

"We were slightly vulnerable domestically and extremely vulnerable globally," admits Cushman.

He mentions a Dallas-based firm that needed market research immediately. Cushman Realty was hard-pressed to turn around such materials quickly. That was before June 29, 2001, when the merger was publicly announced.

"96 percent of our brokers made the move to Cushman & Wakefield from Cushman Realty," says Cushman.

The integration process has been smooth, according to Cushman, despite the Sept. 11 effect.

Others attest to the smooth transition, which sent ex-Cushman Realty personnel throughout the country to myriad Cushman & Wakefield offices.

"The merger has given me a much bigger view of the business. Our competitors just can't provide this level of service," says Steven Marcussen, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield's Los Angeles office.

Marcussen, a broker for twenty years, worked directly with Cushman at Cushman Realty. He credited Cushman for his "can-do attitude and ability to keep his eye on the strategic goal."

Another former Cushman Realty broker--now working at Cushman & Wakefield's Washington, DC office--says that the corporate cultures are remarkably similar.

"Cushman & Wakefield realizes the importance of service. Cushman Realty was built on relationships, and that matters here also," says Lou Christopher, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield.

"There's no question that Cushman & Wakefield has the strongest talent in the business now," says Christopher, who worked at Cushman Realty for three years prior to the merger.

Christopher says that "nobody works harder" than John Cushman. "Are you asking me if I worked on Thanksgiving? Yes," says Cushman.

"I work seven days a week. I love what I do," he says.

He discussed the volume of e-mails building up inside his laptop during the interview. When the interview was over, he planned to read them--and his description made him sound like a child opening presents on Christmas morning. He wouldn't be doing this if it weren't fun. The work doesn't seem to enervate him, as it would for some executives his age looking considering retirement. On the contrary, Cushman is downright perky.

Asked if the Merrill Lynch lease at the World Financial Center--which took 17 months to negotiate--was the biggest lease ever brokered in the United States, he quickly responded with aplomb that it was the biggest in the world.

When he mentioned an article that he was quoted in several years ago on the future of REITs, he boasted, "everything I predicted was right on the money."

Of the current state of the business, Cushman says that being privately held right now is particularly good.

And Cushman & Wakefield's "story"--its history and track record--is also important, even more so after last summer.

"Wall Street doesn't love the story of Trammell Crow, Jones Lang LaSalle or Insignia," says Cushman, adding that the firm has no debt.

He discussed how the business of commercial real estate has changed over the years.

"Nowadays it just isn't possible for one person to land a big deal. The lone broker just doesn't work anymore," he says.

Back in the 1950's, says Cushman, the notion of a "lone range?" was common. But clients today "demand more." He admits that in his first ninety days at Cushman & Wakefield he has already "landed a lot of business."

"And that's because we have more arrows in the quiver now. We have more bullets now," he says, speaking metaphorically.

In his new capacity as chairman of the board, Cushman works closely with United States operations president Bruce Mosler and president/CEO Arthur Mirante. He even shares an office with Mirante at Cushman & Wakefield's midtown Manhattan headquarters.

"I couldn't be more excited about the way that we are working together," says Mirante, a friend of Cushman's for the past 31 years.

Mirante recently attended a benefit here in Manhattan with Cushman. The idea, says Mirante, was to introduce Cushman to his friends.

"But John knew more people than I did. And people knew him--the Cushman name is magical," says Mosler.

Mosler likewise spoke highly of Cushman.

"What makes him great is his capacity to put 120 percent into everything that he does. He also knows this business inside/out," says Mosler.

When Cushman isn't working, which isn't often, he spends time at the Twin Creek Ranch in Driggs, Idaho. He and his brother Louis own the ranch, which sits on the western side of the Grand Teton mountain range. He is taking his family on an African safari soon, which may coincide with some business he has to take care of in Dubai.

"I've done deals everywhere," says Cushman. And it appears that Cushman has many more deals to come.
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Title Annotation:Cushman Realty Corp.'s merger with Cushman and Wakefield
Author:Chapman, Parke
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 12, 2001
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