In 1972, Goldie B. Wolfe was working in an advertising agency as an account representative. She wanted to go into sales since one of her clients, who was giving her career advice, said she should sell bridges instead of widgets. After going through 62 interviews, she landed at Arthur Rubloff & Co. – the largest real estate firm in Chicago, in the office leasing department.
After leaving Rubloff & Co., Goldie started her own firm, Goldie B. Wolfe & Co., which she grew to be the largest woman-owned commercial real estate firm in the country. She sold it in 1998.
The rest, as they say, is history! For the past four decades, Goldie B. Wolfe Miller, who is currently President of Millbrook Corporate Real Estate Services, has achieved much success within commercial real estate. Real estate is not just a profession for Miller; it’s a passion.
“I’ve been very fortunate to find a career that had unlimited opportunities,” she said. “Unlike a normal job, my remuneration was/and is equal to my input, or how hard I work. That is not a secret to success.”
Miller has also served as a role model to other women in the industry. When she started in 1972, she said there were few, if any, females. Today, she’s happy there are more women – but unhappy that there aren’t many more.
“Men still dominate the commercial real estate business,” she said. “And as long as women are the primary caregivers for children – that’s how it will be. That’s why I started the program I have at Roosevelt University – the Goldie B. Wolfe Miller Women Leaders in Real Estate Initiative.”
Miller continued, “Through our program, not only are we graduating female scholars in real estate – they’re obtaining MBAs, — but also they are receiving mentoring and networking opportunities and we help them get new jobs in more advanced positions.”
The impact of her initiative on its participants has been highly successful, as Miller says the participants are thriving.
“Some write to me that the program has changed their lives. The mentoring part really stands out. These scholars are matched with senior people in the industry to help them. Men have been doing this for years. The industry has benefited with the addition of bright, energetic professional women.”
Nonetheless, Miller enjoys the constant changing nature of the market, and how creative the individual has to be to work in it.
“I can go from leasing space for a growing client, to subleasing space in a tough market… What I don’t enjoy are people in the industry that think our job is so easy until they try to compete. Only 10% of the brokers succeed, the other 90% think they could/should.”
Millbrook Real Estate Company is a privately owned investor, developer, and manager of commercial real estate in the Chicagoland area. Miller said its attention to quality/superior customer service is what sets them apart from other companies.
“My husband, Jack, and his brothers built Quill on fanatical customer service,” she said. “Our company today is no different. We have clients who want to be in Millbrook buildings because we take excellent care of our tenants.”
Recently Millbrook bought Arboretum Lakes, a Lisle project, – 5 buildings with a huge vacancy rate, and according to Miller, they are now substantially leased.
“The same is true for the building we recently bought near Old Orchard at 5215,” she said. “Our model is buying good quality buildings that are partially leased and adding value by renovating them and then leasing them.”
Overall Miller said her time in the industry has been a great ride, and that there is no substitute for hard work and especially persistence. As a child of Holocaust parents, Miller knows exactly what it takes to “build”.
“The “never give up” attitude has always helped me with my deals. Sometimes I have “crossed the line” of being a bit too aggressive, but that’s okay with me.”
With the impact you’ve had on the commercial real estate industry, I think it’s safe to say it’s okay with everyone Miller!