While I was attending the CCIM Thrive conference in Austin, Texas, I had the privilege to meet Sam Zell. Sam gave a great presentation on Commercial Real Estate, Lending and Investments and also received an honorary CCIM designation, which is a very rare occurrence.
Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments, is one of the most dynamic icons of the commercial real estate industry. He buys distressed, undervalued properties and companies and turns them around. He has the ability to see opportunities where most do not.
Zell was born in Chicago. His parents immigrated to the United States at the beginning of World War II. Zell started early in the commercial real estate industry. While in school he managed a small apartment building in exchange for free room and board, soon he was managing the owner’s other properties. By the time Zell graduated he was managing 4,000 apartments. He founded Equity Group Investments in the 1960’s, a private investment firm. The company’s portfolio includes energy, logistics, public companies, communications and transportation and Sam is widely considered to be a pioneer in creating the modern commercial real estate industry. Equity Residential went public in 1993, valued at $800 million.
Sam shared his recent $5.4 billion sale of a portion of his apartment portfolio - 23,000 units to Starwood, that from the beginning of discussions, to a $200 million non-refundable deposit, took three weeks. When asked what his “secret sauce” was, he said “I’m just brutally pragmatic, brutally realistic.”
Sam was introduced by Sheldon Good, CCIM, a fellow Chicagoan, and Shindico’s Canadian real estate auction partner. It was a pleasure to spend time over breakfasts with “Shelley” and thank him for the great training of so many over the decades. Bringing the professional National Real Estate Auction to Canada with Sheldon Good Company is how in the early 90’s Shindico “Succeeded by Helping Others Succeed”.
It is an honour to have Sam Zell, CCIM as one of us!
Sandy G. Shindleman
President & CEO
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