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Reingold rallies brokers to work together; Suzy Reingold, executive managing director Cushman & Wakefield.

Entrepreneurialism seems to always have a way of making an appearance at or near the top of the list of attributes used when describing the traits of a successful leasing broker--and for good reason. A broker's ability to execute a leasing transaction often relies just as much or more on personal contacts and individual effort than it does the prestige and services of their firm.

There is an impulse that has always resided deep in the cultural fabric of many real estate services companies to function not as a coordinated whole, but a freewheeling collection of brokers who may compete with their colleagues just as fiercely as they do with rivals from another firm.

When Suzy Reingold joined the real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield a little over a year ago as the manager of its brokerage operations, one of her main objectives from the outset was to reconcile this unabashed competitiveness with a new level of collaboration and information sharing.

Reingold began by reviving the firm's sparsely attended market meetings, a forum for brokers to share everything from leasing rumors to hard data on newly opened vacancies and tenants searching in the market for space. The meetings can be of tremendous value to brokers. Being alerted by a coworker about a recently opened vacancy, for instance, can become the serendipitous break that allows a colleague to place their tenant in a space. But as Reingold explains it, while the information exchanged at the meetings has the potential to create transactions, among competitors it becomes proprietary rather than something to be shared.

Perhaps one of Reingold's greatest successes so far has been the way that she has masterfully unraveled this kind of overheated competition without offending the inherent entrepreneurialism of her brokers.

"When I got here, attendance was minimal," Reingold said. "Now I would say that 80% of the brokers show up."

Even the firm's top brokers, who have less of a need than younger brokers for tips because they typically have already established lucrative relationships, have been participating in the meetings, which have become a staple of Reingold's tenure. Their presence is especially valuable because of the extensive contacts they have in the industry, which provides them with a greater pipeline of market information. One of the reasons many veterans have been eager to take part even though the information they provide may sometimes outweigh what they take away is that Reingold has been able to demonstrate to them that the comprehensive market picture that is created through everyone's participation outweighs the significance of any one lead.

"What's important is that the information is out there for everyone, that it's being shared and that together we can really stay on top of the market and see the opportunities and the trends," Reingold said. "I had a very established broker when I first got here tell me he was totally against coming to the meetings. But I kept encouraging him and finally he decided to come down and he participated, he gave tips, he received tips, he gave advice. And when he came away, he was just blown away by how valuable the meeting was and how many people are showing up and actively participating. The brokers bounce ideas off one another, if someone is representing a landlord, they may get input from some of the brokers on what they think the rents might be worth."

"In the end, what they've learned is that the whole is stronger than all those little pieces. Rather than having them waste their time recreating the wheel, digging up market info every time they have to go to a tenant or landlord, we use the constant information we receive from the market meetings to create reports for them, say for all the current blocks of downtown space on the market over 100,000 s/f and the tenants looking for that space."

Reingold has also lauded brokers who, bucking the industry's tradition for cliquish brokerage teams, are willing to sometimes form new groups in circumstances when a particular combination of skills and experience will give them a better chance of winning business.

"Andy Sacks and Tim Gibson were chasing a major law firm recently and they called Ed Weiss who just did a deal with the law firm Shearman & Sterling and they asked Ed to join them," Reingold said. "They're not afraid to share the money because if they don't get the assignment there's not going to be any money to share. Smart brokers like them see the advantage of teaming up like that and that's something that management has been encouraging."

A gifted but fun-loving student growing up, Reingold remembers how her parents' ambitions for her helped embolden her to pursue a lofty career.

"My parents encouraged me to be independent and to be my own person," Reingold said. "I was a wild and crazy teenager, I don't know how they lived through it. My mother was determined that I have a career. She always said that you have to like yourself if you want someone else to like you."

Reingold's father got her a job at a local law firm, which perked her interest in the profession.

"I said' 'hey this is great, maybe I'll be a legal secretary,' and they went crazy," Reingold said. "They said, no you're going to be a lawyer, and somehow, I went with the program."

Reingold wound up attending the University of Miami before going on to get a law degree.

She entered into real estate law and was the first woman to become a partner at the firm Schulte Roth & Zabel. Bernard Mendik, a friend and well known real estate investor in the city whose portfolio of Manhattan properties was acquired by Vornado in the late 1990s, encouraged her to become a landlord representative.

Reingold worked for a time under Stephen Ross at the Related Companies, leasing one of the firm's office buildings in Westchester as well as a number if its properties in the city. Through the years of agency work, Reingold gained a thorough understanding of the brokerage business that she was able to merge with her existing knowledge of real estate law.

"I think one of the reasons why she is such a great manager and why the brokers here respect her and look to her for advice and guidance and support is that they know that she knows what it's like to be a broker and what we need to succeed," said Andy Sacks, a C&W broker who began working with Reingold a decade ago when the two were at Insignia, a firm that was eventually acquired by CB Richard Ellis.

"She has a complete understanding of the transactions and the business, she knows what your potential is and what kinds of deals you should be pursuing. And on top of that, she's completely approachable, her door is always open."
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Title Annotation:PROFILE OF THE WEEK
Comment:Reingold rallies brokers to work together; Suzy Reingold, executive managing director Cushman & Wakefield.(PROFILE OF THE WEEK)
Author:Geiger, Daniel
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Feb 21, 2007
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