Barry Gosin, CEO of the real estate services firm Newmark Knight Frank, gave anecdotes of his own difficult start in the leasing business, offering young brokers perspective on the tough times they face in this market.
Gosin recounted beginning his career as a canvasser for the Rudin family at 41 Madison Avenue, celebrated street of Manhattan, borough of New York City. It runs from Madison Square (23d St.) to the Madison Bridge over the Harlem River (138th St.). In the 1940s and 50s, some of the major U.S. , a building that the famed real estate family had just finished developing and was having difficulty renting in a dismal market.
“I started in the worst market and being stupid and not knowing anything was a real advantage because I didn’t know what kind of work I was out of,” Gosin said. “1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977, basically it was one kind of market, it was horrible.
Desperate, Gosin said that a colleague came up with the idea to convert 41 Madison into a showroom building and the two subsequently sent out two thousand letters trying to solicit interest from the toy industry, which used to be largely concentrated nearby on Fifth Avenue.
Gosin and colleagues continued to chip away and eventually the concept of positioning the building to attract tenants from a particular industry caught on among dinnerware tenants. While trying to recruit one such tenant at a show, Gosin said that he suffered among the most memorable
rebukes of his early career. After offering a short pitch about the building to an executive, Gosin recounted how the person simply glowered at him for a long moment before uttering with visible restraint, “go … away.”
“I still wake up at three am at night and see that face … the pure humiliation was astounding.
I felt worthless, really felt worthless, but I got over it,” Gosin said. “I went out the next day and tried to rent more space.”
Gosin said that the market was so depressed at the time that 450 Park Avenue, considered both then and now one of midtown’s priciest office towers, was leasing for $7 per square foot.
“Jack Rudin would fire me every week and Lew Rudin would rehire
me,” Gosin said.
Gosin’s unabashed approach to soliciting tenants led to more hijinks
Going from door to door in the Chrysler Building, in midtown Manhattan, New York City, at Lexington Ave. between 42d and 43d St. The ultimate art deco-style skyscraper, it was commissioned by Walter P. Chrysler, designed by William Van Alen, and built in 1926–30. , he found his way unknowingly into the offices of Sol Goldman and Alex DiLorenzo, the building’s legendary landlords, and began pitching DiLorenzo on a move to a competing office property.
“Alex came out, he looked like he was two feet tall and had his hair slicked back, he looked just like Michael Corleone and scared the heck out of me.
Gosin said. “And he took me out of the building but he wasn’t so nice.”
Doing a walkthrough of 192 Lexington Avenue to try to recruit more showroom tenants a man stopped Gosin in the lobby.
“Are you Barry Gosin?” Gosin recounted the man asking him. “He was hired to keep me out of the building. That was one of the great moments of my life, that was one of my first moments to be infamous.”
Linking his rough entry into commercial leasing to the current tough times, Gosin said that downturns also present brokers with an opportunity to unclutter themselves from the distractions that seep into business during boom years and refocus.
Gosin said his breakthrough deal came at 1 Park Avenue, when he happened upon an engineering firm that was interested in taking a 50,000 square foot lease Gosin knew about in the building for space formerly occupied by the Italian business machine manufacturer Olivetti.
Rents in the lease were $4 per square foot and Gosin said that he received a fifty thousand dollar commission. But Gosin said his career was finally on the way up and he had never felt more encouraged.
“I felt this was a great business, I couldn’t understand wanting to do anything else,” Gosin said. “If you work hard you will be lucky. Starting in a bad market is a real advantage, there’s nothing going on, you have no choice, you have to work hard.”
Gosin said that downturns also present brokers with an opportunity to unclutter themselves from the distractions that seep into business during boom years and refocus on work.
Go For It! Don’t Waste A Good Recession!!!