With experience representing tenants, buyer and ownership representation in build-to-suits, investment analysis, acquisition and disposition services, Brendan Sheahan serves as vice president at Darwin Realty. He has completed over 1.3 million square feet of transactions totaling more than $30 million in value.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I grew up in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, a small suburb west of Milwaukee and yes, I am a die-hard Packer fan. I attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison and graduated from the undergraduate real estate program in the Wisconsin School of Business. I moved to Chicago after graduation to pursue opportunities in commercial real estate and have been working in industrial brokerage with Darwin Realty ever since.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
Growing up, I played every sport I could and had typical adolescent ambitions of being a professional basketball or football player. Reality set in when I stopped growing and realized I was a marginal athlete at best, so I started to look at other more conventional career paths. I grew up during a time of immense development in and around my home town so commercial real estate was something I was always interested in, once I got to college it was an easy decision to enter the business school and continue to pursue that interest in the real estate program.
How did you get your start in the industry?
As a student at UW, I was fortunate to have access to many alumni connections and job placement opportunities through the business school. As a senior I met with several commercial real estate firms in both the Milwaukee and Chicago areas, including Darwin. Following my initial meeting with the principals and a number of future colleagues, I felt that the company was made up of like-minded, ambitious brokers and I knew it was the place for me to begin my career. Seven years have flown by and it was the best decision I could have made.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
Brokerage is certainly not an easy business, particularly starting out, so having a strong support system around me was critical in order to achieve and sustain a level of success. I’m lucky to have parents who have always been supportive of me in anything that I’ve attempted to do. At Darwin, the principals and older brokers are incredibly supportive of new brokers and create a collaborative environment to help achieve success. In particular, Noel Liston trained me and spent countless hours showing me the ropes of the business. Noel has been like an older brother to me in the business and we continue to work together on projects today, I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him at Darwin.
What does a day in the life of Brendan Sheahan look like?
Pretty much every day involves getting up by 5:30 am to get ready and fight traffic out to the office in Elmhurst from the Ukrainian Village in Chicago where I live. I was never a morning person growing up, but I’ve found mornings to be the most effective time to dedicate to prospecting and new business development. From there its typically meetings or showings over lunch and early afternoon and back in the office for anything else that needs to be done on any given day. I try to end almost every day with a workout to help blow off some steam and reset my mind for the next day. I think the best advice I could give to any new brokers getting into the industry is to come up with a routine and try to stick with it the best you can. Our job can inherently be a bit chaotic but maintaining some level of consistent routine from day to day is the best path to early and continued success.
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy the competitive aspect of brokerage and that every day offers new challenges. I don’t think I’ve ever had a day that went exactly as I thought it would when I woke up and that is something that constantly keeps me on my toes. I’ve also always been fascinated by how products are made so walking through manufacturing plants and warehouses every day is something that I’ll continue to be excited about even 40+ years in the business.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
Its always exciting to work on large and complex transactions that offer unexpected challenges and that is something I look forward to continuing to do in my career in greater volume. I’m fortunate to have a short list of clients that trust me to handle transactions in other markets, that is an aspect of my business that I hope to continue to grow while still completing transactions in the Chicago market.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
When I’m not at the office I’m likely either at the gym or exploring all of the neighborhoods the city of Chicago has to offer. With summer finally around the corner I’m looking forward to spending some quality time at my favorite neighborhood patios and the golf course.
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
I’ve never been a big world traveler, but I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Munich, Germany during college that happened to coincide with Oktoberfest. I have friends that have moved to different cities around the country, so I take weekend trips to see them whenever my schedule allows.