As part of our series, CRE Future Leaders, we caught up with Mike DeSerto of Entre Commercial Realty. DeSerto is a co-leader of Entre’s market team focused on industrial sales and leasing in the northwest suburban submarket. He has implemented unique marketing campaigns for clients Including Samsung, USF Holland, John Hancock Real Estate and Bristol Group.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
When I was growing up, my family owned a residential real estate development company, so I feel like I was destined to go into the real estate industry. I started working on job sites doing construction cleans at the age of six. I spent my early years in Fontana, Wisconsin where I attended elementary and Big Foot High School until the end of my freshmen year. I moved to Marengo, Illinois for my sophomore through senior years. I then went back to the cheesehead state for college where I graduated from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin with a double major in business administration and marketing and a double minor in religion and entrepreneurial studies of natural science.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
I always looked up to my grandfather, Robert W. Kling. I aspire to be half the man he was! He was a military man, an entrepreneur, a father of seven and a patriarch to 23 grandchildren. He spent his entire life supporting community, family and the love of his life, my grandmother, Beverly Kling. I was taught young that the most important thing in life is family!
How did you get your start in the industry?
I did an internship with Colliers Bennett Kahnweiler, now Colliers International, in 2007. Real estate was my passion, and I always knew it would be the path I would take. However, my path was a bit bumpy. I graduated in 2009 to a lackluster economy. I was encouraged by my first mentors: family members Steve Kling, David Florent and Brian Kling, all principals with Colliers International in the CRE industry to get sales experience before joining a commercial real estate firm, mainly due to low velocity and an uncertain market. I took their advice and did a stint in commercial roofing sales from 2009-2011 and automotive sales from 2011-2013. In 2013, I received a call from said mentors saying it would be a good time to jump in and started the interview process at several shops.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
Although my Colliers “family” has always helped me out when it comes to making career decisions, I owe much of my knowledge, professionalism and ethics to my mentors, Dan Benassi and Dan Jones, at Entre Commercial Realty.
What does a day in the life of Mike DeSerto look like?
Although every day is a bit different, it typically starts with my 19-month-old twin boys (Clayton and Winston) waking me up with kisses at 5:00 a.m. That always prepares me for the day of grind ahead of me: prospecting, deal flow, client retention and networking.
What do you like most about your job?
Every transaction is like a hunt, with many different steps and stages before it is complete. We in the CRE industry are problem solvers, and I always like a good puzzle.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
How do you spend your time away from the office?
My days outside of the office are spent with my wife, Andrea, and kids. Although most of our free time is spent maintaining our farm, we get out to parks, museums and farmers markets on the weekends. Farm life allows us to decompress on ATV rides on our numerous trails, tractor rides and eating delicious home-grown vegetables!
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
I am well-traveled and picking one place is difficult, however Chang Mai, Thailand has always held a special place in my memories. I would like to travel to Alaska, it is the only state in the U.S. I have not made it to yet.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
I would like to see Brandon Waters of NAI Hiffman answer these questions.