“I think working ;ve to 10 years at other businesses is suf;cient.
If possible, it is bene;cial to have a 10-year overlap of generations to pass on
the wisdom from the older generation to the younger generation.”
;nancing. As we look to the future,
we plan to continue to mold our
offerings to the changing needs of
Klatskin: The focus of our business is industrial real estate in New
Jersey, 100 percent. We do not own
anything else. In the past, we had
a hotel and an of;ce building in
Maryland, but they have been sold.
Alter: Ours is a 62-year-old business.
We are in development and asset
management. We were NAIOP’s Developer of the Year in 2010. We have
six divisions: construction, property
management, internal brokerage,
health care, investment sales and
distressed assets. One of the biggest shifts in our company is the
increasing migration toward Class
A downtown of;ce development in
major gateway markets.
Does your ;rm work
independently or with
Klatskin: We use all of our own
equity for projects; we do take debt
from third parties, either banks
or life insurance companies. The
newest project we are doing is with
another family business that is also
a member of NAIOP. The Forsgate
partnership and the other family
business each own 50 percent of
Wyllie: It was a family decision
back in the early days of the business that we would have a smaller
pie, but a pie that we owned 100
percent of as a family. For all of
these years, we have done no joint
ventures and we have no partners.
Russell: We ;nd that partners are
a good way to expand offerings,
whether a client needs assistance
;nding a site or sourcing ;nancing.
Each project is unique, so each
project’s ownership structure is
tailored to meet the needs of that
speci;c project, which is where real
estate partners come into play.
One project we are working on is a
former hotel site in our hometown.
The 30-year-old hotel had fallen
into disrepair, but is in a prime
location. We acquired the property, demolished the hotel and will
redevelop the 8-acre parcel. Local
brokers, companies and ownership
partners are helping bring new life
to the property.
Alter: We work independently and
we are self-;nanced with no debt.
We never took any debt to fund the
growth of the ;rm, relying instead
on our revenues from investment
sales and leasing to fund our growth.
How did you “cut your
teeth” in the real estate
Klatskin: I am a licensed, registered
architect. I worked at an architectural ;rm in New York for ;ve years
and then joined the family business. I got my property-level experience at the family-owned business
because we are, ;rst and foremost,
Heins: I joined Coldwell Banker
Commercial, the predecessor of
CBRE, in the early 1980s. I was in
the investment division in Minneapolis. I worked with them for ;ve years
and then struck out on my own.
Russell: Growing up in a construc-
tion family, I always knew I wanted
to get into the business. I earned a
construction management degree
and began working for a construc-
tion company. After spending my
;rst few years managing construction
projects, I knew real estate develop-
ment was the next step in my career
path. Knowing I needed to continue
to challenge myself professionally,
I received an MBA in ;nance and
earned my real estate broker’s
license. A lot of my industry knowl-
edge has come from working with
clients on construction sites and
the natural progression of thinking
of the “next deal,” which tends to
lead to real estate acquisition and
development to make it happen.
Wyllie: I graduated from the University of Florida in 1976 and got
a job with General Development,
the largest development company
in Florida at the time. Eventually, I
ran its commercial operation for 15
years. My father-in-law wanted me
to work for the family business, The
Graham Companies. I said at the
time that the last thing I would ever
do is come work for my wife’s family company. But my father-in-law
convinced me, and I have been with
the company for 27 years.
Alter: My dad created a very
democratic culture at Alter, and we
[family members] were treated like
everyone else. I started cleaning
vacant space, working on electrical
panels, hanging heaters and cutting
lawns at our of;ce and industrial
parks as a teenager. I was interested in real estate, and I asked
my dad if I could come to work
with him to learn the business. He
said that he would teach me the
business, but wanted to give me the
freedom to choose my own career.
I later got a hotel/restaurant degree
in college and worked in that industry for several years. When my dad
got sick, I realized that, rather than
selling the business, we wanted to
keep the family name on the front
door. My brother Michael joined the
business in 1990; I got in in 1991.
What is the age range of
family members involved
in the business? Have age