Each year, Midwest Real Estate News elects a new class into its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame. Here is a look at one of our new Hall of Fame members, Thomas Murphy, director with Hiffman National in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.
Thomas Murphy, director of Project Services with Oak Brook Terrace, Illinois’ Hiffman National, the property management and project services division of NAI Hiffman,, has notched some impressive numbers during his commercial real estate career of more than 24 years. Here’s one: Since joining Hiffman in 2012, Murphy and his team have completed more than $274 million in capital and tenant improvement projects across 28 states, many of which have benefitted from Murphy’s engineering, tenant relation and commercial property operations experience.
Such achievements aren’t unusual for Murphy. During his long career, he has successfully managed real estate assets for companies such as United Parcel Service, Prentiss Properties and Grubb & Ellis, focusing on everything from building operations, budgeting, accounting and asset management to lease administration, engineering, preventative maintenance, capital and tenant improvement oversight.
At Hiffman National, Murphy’s career began by leading a team of 24 property management professionals managing 22 million SF of office and industrial assets, which led him to spearhead the creation of the company’s new Project Services Division. This division provides specialized project management oversight services to capital and tenant improvement projects for independent and existing Hiffman clients. With his direction, the Project Services team has overseen 10.2 million square feet of office, medical office and industrial due diligence assignments in just four years.
Murphy has succeeded in this business largely because he understands that being a leader means considering the ideas of other talented professionals.
“Listening to understand first, not to respond,” is how Murphy describes this talent.” By taking the time to listen to a problem or a request and focus on understanding what is being communicated first has allowed me to be productive in responding appropriately.”
But that’s not the only reason for Murphy’s success. He also follows some simple but effective rules.
“Never stop learning,” Murphy says. “Take the sales call. You might be surprised at what new ideas are available to solve today’s obstacles. Make promises you can keep. And always think through a situation beyond the immediate answer to a problem to ensure that you do not create a larger issue down the road.”
Even with these golden rules, Murphy has faced challenges during his career. He points to the recession in 2008, which he says was a long and difficult portion of his career. At this time, Murphy was the general manager of a trophy high-rise asset in the Chicago CBD that struggled to cover its debt service and pay for the services required in a Class-A building, such as night cleaning and security.
“This is where I learned the importance of proactive communication and the value of keeping commitments,” Murphy said. “It was using those tools that allowed me to manage the expectations of the vendors waiting for payment and ensure no service interruption for the tenants of the property.”
These skills have served Murphy well. Hiffman National’s Project Services division under Murphy’s leadership has grown from two to six management professionals who oversee capital and tenant improvement projects in 28 states. Since the division’s creation, its team members have overseen $200 million of capital and tenant improvement projects.
When Murphy isn’t working, he enjoys watching his five sons compete in sports and spending time with his family. He also enjoys reading books, is an automobile enthusiast and isn’t afraid to tackle DIY projects at home.