CRE Future Leaders: Luke Heerema Matt Baker June 11, 2020 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share via email Luke Heerema serves as the director of business development at Wright Heerema Architects (WHA). He oversees the firm’s business development team and helps to enhance the firm’s pipeline of architecture and interior design work. Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school? I grew up in Oak Park, then went to Hope College in Holland, Michigan. After graduating in 2008, I returned to the Chicago area. When you were young, what did you aspire to be? As a young boy, I had a fascination with trucks and the transportation world, and my first word was even “bus.” I have always liked anything with wheels. Then in junior high, high school and the beginning of college, I had aspirations of entering the legal field, but that was likely influenced by too many crime novels rather than an understanding of what that work actually entailed. From when I was in sixth grade until after college I caddied at Oak Park Country Club, so I had exposure to a lot of successful individuals and gleaned a lot of experience in how to interact with the most demanding of doctors, entrepreneurs, floor traders and people from many other walks of life. How did you get your start in the industry? I grew up very near the industry, with my father, Roger, working at Loebl, Schlossman & Hackl. I remember going down to his office a couple of times and when he and his current business partner, Steve, were the architects on Two Prudential Plaza in the late ‘80s. I got to go on site on a weekend day and watch the top of the spire be loaded into place via helicopter. Then in the summer of 2007, I was trying to figure out “what’s next” before graduating college and I took an internship at WHA, which needed an intern predominantly to clean out the library of precast samples before an upcoming office move. So that’s when and where I got my start in the design industry and now, I’m lucky enough to be back at the firm again. During my time as an intern here I also got to have access to a few of the firm’s clients and supporters in the brokerage community. So, after I graduated, I reached back out to those people, took a slight detour into copier sales to get some entry level sales experience (thanks to Jack McKinney Sr. and Bill Rolander). Then I started working at Advocate Advisors and Cresa as a tenant rep for a number of years focusing on the O’Hare and North Suburban office market. I also worked at Interior Investments where I learned about what it was like to be a supplier to the industry and continued to build on the relationships that I continue to cultivate and rely on to this day. Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support? I was fortunate when I was working at Cresa to be paired up and worked with Lenny Turelli for a number of years. Along with his guidance and others at Cresa I doubt I would have the career I do. What does a day in the life of Luke Heerema look like? I count myself very fortunate to get the privilege to meet with brokers, project managers and end-users to talk about how great our firm, its people and our work is. Usually I have a breakfast or a lunch with one of those players, then I spend the middle of the day working on a deliverable with the marketing team, doing research on a prospect or project, or simply picking up the phone and calling people to find some other opportunities for our team to work on! What do you like most about your job? Continuing what I said above, we have a great group at the office who comes up with some brilliant solutions to clients’ challenges and visions. I also love that I get to interact with many different people every day. Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already? There’s a lot of uncertainty in the market and the world right now, but I really want to get our firm to be busy enough to where we have the fortune to go out and hire some more great people in the industry. Additionally, our firm is really well known in some market sectors such as building repositioning efforts, but not as well known in others, such as workplace interiors and pharmaceutical, so I’d like to expand our reach in those sectors. How do you spend your time away from the office? I am pretty social during the day, but the end of the day and weekends are predominantly spent with my wife and I around our condo in Oak Park. We try and fill it with cooking, trying out restaurants and catching up with friends in the area. What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next? I don’t travel a lot, but as of right now with all the COVID uncertainty and stay at home orders, what I really want to do is go to a patio in Oak Park and spend a weekend afternoon with my wife there! Who would you like to see answer these questions? Thank you to REJournals for the opportunity—I would like to nominate Justin Hucek of https://www.cbre.us/. Look forward to his answers!