Each year, Midwest Real Estate News runs its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame issue, highlighting the careers of the top CRE pros in the Midwest. This year, we are also running these profiles online. Today, we look at the career of Thomas Gustafson, national director of the self-storage practice group with the Cleveland office of Colliers International.
Problem-solver: With 23 years in commercial real estate, Tom Gustafson has seen and solved most of the problems that pop up in marketing and selling properties. It’s this rare problem-solving ability that has led Gustafson to such a thriving CRE career.
When Gustafson started his career, industry experts told him that he would need to complete 100 deals before he could claim to have seen all that the industry could throw at him. Gustafson broke past that hurdle long ago. He has now completed more than 500 commercial transactions, and has seen just about anything imaginable in the commercial real estate business.
Deep knowledge: Gustafson has worked with Colliers International since starting with the Ostendorf-Morris Company, the original boutique firm in Cleveland. He then transitioned to the Colliers International all-Ohio Platform, which produces nearly $1 billion in annual transaction volume.
Gustafson built his career in office and industrial brokerage, specializing in tenant representation, leasing and investment sales. But Gustafson also has experience with land assemblage, develoment, build-to-suit and design-build consulting. It wasn’t until four years ago that he switched his focus, this time concentrating on the self-storage side of the industry.
The move to self-storage: Gustafson saw that Colliers International conducts 850 to 1,000 self-storage appraisals every year. He leveraged the Colliers platform to build a self-storage investment sales brokerage team, of which he now serves as national director.
This move has paid off. Combined, the Colliers self-storage sales investment team has in escrow and listings more than $250 million in self-storage properties in multiple states.
Service matters: “Hearing an owner say, ‘Yes, Tom, you are hired to sell my property,’ is always welcomed news in my daily work,” Gustafson said. “But delivering the right process and bringing the transaction to a successful close for the client is the most rewarding experience in my profession.”
A roadmap to success: Gustafson takes a simple approach to success: He listens to what his clients say, solves their problems and delivers what he promises.
Gustafson also studies his market hard, something that helps set him apart from his fellow brokers.
“It’s important to stand out and not be part of the crowd if you wish to succeed,” he said. “I’ve refined my skill set to an in-depth working knowledge of investment real estate. I’m now 100 percent focused on self-storage investment sales representing the sell side on a national basis.”
Out-of-office hours: When not working, Gustafson likes to spend time with his wife, Betsy, and their family. He’s also a fan of traveling, cooking and exercising.