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The Retail Prodigy.

Aug ushers in next generation

Where else is blood thicker than in New York City's real estate industry? The names of the patriarchs are as well known as the properties themselves. From Trump to LeFrak to Macklowe, the business is as much about family as it is the brick-and-mortar tangibles that are commercial real estate. Real Estate Weekly set out to introduce the next generation of real estate heavies. The goal?

First in a Series

To determine what it's really like being heirs apparent. Despite what some may think, inheriting a position doesn't automatically grant respect -- demands are great and the rewards can come at a cost. The following is the first in a series of profiles on the Scions of New York City Real Estate.

"By the time I was ten, I knew what a good piece of real estate was," says James Aug, CEO of Garrick-Aug Associates, the store leasing firm. But then, for the son of retail impresario Charles Aug to say that is like Rembrandt's first-born suggesting he absorbed some 'knowledge' of painting from his dad.

After all, James' father Charles established the retail leasing firm Garrick-Aug and, one peak in a career of zeniths, single-handedly lured the Gap to Manhattan. His son's above comment, on its own, could be read any number of ways, all of them callous: "The 'chosen one' proclaiming his greatness," for instance.

Yet James says it in an unassuming manner, shying away from the tongue-in-cheek overtones or smug delivery of such a statement. And he speaks with a poise that suggests a hard-earned rather than inherited place in the world.

Eight years ago, he founded Garrick-Aug's New Jersey-based division. Today, he says, it's the most profitable division in the company. Some might identify a booming retail real estate market in northern New Jersey as an explanation for this. But listening to Aug reflect on his growth as a retail broker, determination appears to be at the root of his -- and by extension his firm's -- success there.

"Real estate is really a lifestyle rather than a career. You live real estate," says Aug.

If you work in the family business, you live and breathe the business and there is no distinction between the personal and the professional spheres.

When James was 23 years old and, in his own words, "hurting for cash," his father offered him $10,000. In exchange for the cash, James Aug would have to close two retail deals. Which he did.

"I knew that I was here to stay after that," says Aug, nostalgically.

Aug, 35, has dirty blond hair parted down the middle. He also possesses the reserve of a man at ease with himself and his work. In a double-breasted suit, he cuts a ruddy figure -- once, he remarks, he was a professional racquetball player. Further back, he played tailback on the Bronx Science football team.

He doesn't rush to speak when addressed. Instead, he ponders questions as if negotiating with possible responses in his mind before committing to an answer. His manner is deliberate, jovial.

In a business where it isn't so much who you know as who you are, Aug identifies this as a mixed blessing because "you really have to make something of your own."

"I began to realize that I wanted my own proof of success. So I voluntarily sought risk," says Aug. Risk being a relative term for a second-generation executive, of course.

According to Dr. Charles Matthews, director of the University of Cincinnati's Center for Entrepreneurship and Research, children tend to see the family business in different ways then their parents see it, especially if that parent happens to be the founder.

"Where the founding generation has gone through their halcyon days, taken risks and built a dream, and now they see the business as the nest egg for their retirement, the younger generation is just entering the period in their lives when they see risk the way their parents did 20 or 30 years ago," said Matthews.

Often, says Matthews, the confluence of these perspectives can create a volatile environment.

"There are no frictions that arise in terms of being Charlie Aug's son," says James. "In fact, from a very early point, everyone knew that I worked on commission just like them."

James credits the fact his father gave him "free reign" as one reason for his success.

Growing up, Aug was familiar with many of the children from other real estate families. He still is, as he sees them frequently at industry gatherings

"As for the other second generation real estate executives, we are all in the same boat. As for me, I feel very lucky to be here," says Aug.

Unlike most Manhattan real estate scions, James was adopted by Charlie Aug at the age of five. His birth father died when James was two.

"I learned a lot more from my dad than I did from real estate. My dad knows me better than anyone," says Aug.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Garrick-Aug Worldwide Ltd.
Author:CHAPMAN, PARKE
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 14, 2001
Words:831
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