Last year, Midwest Real Estate News ran its first Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame special section. In this section, we profiled the top veterans of the industry. since then, we’ve been running these profiles each week on our Web site. Here is a look at Albert Berriz, chief executive officer with Ann Arbor, Mich.-based McKinley.
Albert Berriz Position: Chief Executive Officer Company: McKinley Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
It’s not that Albert Berriz likes down real estate markets. He just doesn’t fear them.
That’s because Berriz, chief executive officer of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based property management company McKinley, views sluggish real estate markets as the perfect time to grow his company.
As he told Midwest Real Estate News for a Sept. 21 story: “I invest in people. That’s more important than any investment you make in real estate. It’s the investments we made in people in 2000 that prepared us for what is going on now in 2010. We have such longevity in our ranks. We have leaders in position who have been with us for decades. Having superior leaders and people leads to growth for your company.”
Berriz has used this simple, but powerful, philosophy to steadily boost the fortunes of McKinley. Today, the company owns and operates a real estate portfolio consisting of $2.4 billion. More than 30,000 apartment units and more than 7 million square feet of shopping centers and office buildings make up this impressive portfolio.
Berriz has had a hand in bringing a significant amount of value to McKinley’s portfolio. He is personally responsible for acquiring and managing assets in excess of $6 billion during his long real estate career.
Few people are surprised at this success.
“Albert knows this business inside and out,” one nominator told Midwest Real Estate News. “If you want to see what a true commercial real estate professional is all about, just look at him. If you want to find a role model for a success story in this industry, Albert’s the person to look at.”
It’s doubtful, though, that Berriz would point to his career as his own personal highlight. That honor would more likely go to his family.
Berriz’s wife, Paula, an MBA graduate with high honors from Northwestern University, has raised two successful business pros, the couple’s sons Albert L. and Andrew. Albert L. works at McKinley, too, where he serves as vice president and managing director of owned residential real estate. Andrew works for Capgemini as a relationship manager in the company’s Chicago office.
Thanks to his long career, Berriz can look at the current commercial slump and not see the same disastrous market that others do. While others bemoan the down times, Berriz continues to work hard. It’s a lesson that he passes on to his employees.
“It helps to have some perspective,” he told Midwest Real Estate News. “I’ve been in this business a long time. There have been similar down times in commercial real estate throughout the decades. People think this is unusual. It’s not. All of the other down times in this business have taken several years to work themselves out, too. People sometimes lose touch with this.”