imes the agents were also the building supers,” said Brad Mendelson, a vice chairman of Colliers who worked at Gordon’s firm from 1978 to 2004.
They would typically work alone, and about all it would take for an agent to get a deal done was to meet a potential tenant over cocktails and scribble some lease terms on a napkin, according to brokers who worked in that era.
It wasn’t until roughly a decade later that Gordon would change that.
“He figured out a way to run the business like it had never been run before,” said Robert Baraf, an executive director with Cushman Wakefield who joined the Edward S. Gordon Company in 1986 and stayed until 2003.
Reinventing the broker
Before the Edward S. Gordon Company came along, a single broker was often in charge of a commercial building, responsible for leasing out its upstairs office space as well any ground-floor retail.
Gordon, who founded his firm in 1972, thought agents should be more specialized by deal type and created about a half dozen of them — retail, building sales, office leasing, building management, industrial leasing and consulting departments, former employees said.
“When I joined, it was like, ‘Whatever buildings you’ve got, I’ll handle the retail,’ and it worked well,” Mendelson said.
Gordon also standardized the process for keeping tabs on who was leasing where, Baraf said. After spending hours canvassing buildings — riding elevators up and down and identifying tenants and available spaces — agents were expected to head back to the office and enter the data into a computer so the whole office could access it.
Gordon was a believer in teams “as opposed to whoever got the call,” Baraf said.
Among those teams was a group of consultants — many equipped with law and business degrees in an industry where such qualifications were scarce — that could drill down into the economics of one lease versus another in an attempt to close a deal.
“The secret sauce was the consulting group,” said Dean Shapiro, who joined in 1989 upon graduating from Cornell’s business school.
Gordon and Martin Turchin, a 1985 hire who retired from CBRE 13 years later, dreamed up the idea to have consultants expand upon “the skill set of the traditional broker, which is about market knowledge and negotiation,” Shaprio explained.
“That allowed them to compete more effectively,” said Shapiro, now a senior vice president with global real estate owner Oxford Properties Group.
Several industry players said that most of the other major commercial brokers have added consultants since then. With all the talent Gordon assembled, the Edward S. Gordon Company “was like the Goldman Sachs of real estate,” Cohen noted.
Gordon’s firm bounced around Manhattan. Its first location was on West 39th Street, and the firm later moved to 415 Madison Avenue before landing in 1980 at the Chrysler Building.
(All of the Edward S. Gordon Company’s offices included the 18th floor, according to former employees, since 18 is considered a special number in Judaism.)
The Art Deco Chrysler had been deteriorating and was largely unoccupied before the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company — which took possession of the property in a foreclosure — spent $23 million on a top-to-bottom refurbishing in the late 1970s. The insurance firm hired Gordon to trumpet that turnaround.
Gordon and his Cessna Citation 4 airplane
Gordon devised a three-day marketing campaign in the New York Times in which mysterious full-page pen-and-ink drawings of the tower ran on consecutive days.
On the first day, a drawing of the tower’s gleaming spire was shown without any words on the page. On the second day, the ad showed a drawing of the spire plus the middle of the building — also without copy. And on the final day, the ad showed the entirety of the tower, along with an announcement that Gordon’s firm had been named the building’s exclusive leasing agent.
Another of his big-league deals was the rescue of 1166 Avenue of the Americas, a chronically vacant money pit that had bled $110 million since its construction in 1970, according to news reports. In 1978, a team of brokers that included Gordon split the building into a pair of commercial condos — a rare move at the time — and sold them to the New York Telephone Company and the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America.
Gordon’s firm moved to the MetLife Building at 200 Park Avenue in 1987. Its office was sophisticated by industry standards, agents said — more like a law firm than a place for marketing properties. It spread across two floors and had ample fax machines, a luxury at the time, as well as a lounge where brokers were expected to get to know one another, Cohen said.
At all those offices, Gordon insisted on neat g上海千花网论坛