The Association of Industrial Real Estate Brokers (AIRE) is celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Frank Mahoney Award, its annual recognition of an industrial real estate professional who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, community service and real estate brokerage success in less than seven years in the industry.
Most of the previous award winners today hold senior level positions with some of Chicago’s most prestigious firms, and many of them credit this award for propelling their growth in the industry.
In the first of a series, Whit Heitman, Adam Tarantur and David Bercu share reflections on receiving the award and its impact on their careers.
“Still to this day, I am surprised at how much of a positive reaction I receive as a result of having won this award,” Whit R. Heitman, a Senior Vice President at NAI Hiffman, who won the award in 1998 when he was with Paine/Wetzel, said. “It opened up so many doors, especially within the real estate community, and gave me some credibility. I even remember that some of the senior real estate professionals started returning my calls!”
Adam Tarantur, a Principal with Podolsky|Circle CORFAC International, who won the award in 2001, is humbled by the amount of recognition he received from the award.
“The fact that this award is voted on by other real estate professionals showed me that the amount of time and energy I was putting into becoming a well-rounded real estate professional was being noticed by others whom I respected in the industry,” he said. “This is an industry without a great deal of structure or predetermined paths for success, so it is nice when you’re getting started to get indicators from those you respect in the industry that you are headed in the right direction.”
David Bercu, a Principal with Colliers International, won the award in 1991. The 28-year veteran of Colliers International knew Frank Mahoney personally, and said it was especially meaningful for him to be honored for conducting business with the same character, integrity and salesmanship Mahoney personified.
Frank Mahoney began his industrial real estate career in the early 1970’s after serving as a clergyman in South America. He started his career with Van Vlissingen & Company before ultimately beginning his own firm, Frank Mahoney & Associates, in the early 1980s. Throughout his career, until his death in the late 1980s, Mahoney was an active member of the Association of Industrial Real Estate Brokers serving as a member, committee chairman, director and an officer of the organization.
Tarantur stated that it’s important to understand that the Frank Mahoney Award is not based on the size or number of transactions you’ve completed.
“The award is based on more qualitative elements than that. This award acknowledges the numbers, but focuses much more heavily on personality traits, business acumen and philanthropic involvement.”
For Bercu, the award is ultimately a representation of the practices and conduct expected of all the association’s members. AIRE membership requires its brokers to maintain the highest level of professional standards possible and eliminate practices that could damage the public or discredit the real estate profession. Its members meet regularly to learn and discuss better ways to serve clients, customers, the public and each other.
“The Frank Mahoney award winners demonstrate all of the characteristics that the Association adheres to,” said Bercu.
Heitman added that even though he did not know Frank Mahoney, after winning the award, he learned what an inspiration he was to so many people in our industry. He also compares the award to winning the Rookie of the Year award in Major League Baseball.
“I have been very fortunate to earn a great living as an industrial real estate broker, but there is no question that winning the Frank Mahoney Award is at the top of my accomplishments.”
When the past winners were asked to name their greatest accomplishment as an industrial broker, they each had a different thing to say.
“Although I’ve been very fortunate to earn a great living as an industrial real estate broker, there is no question that winning the Frank Mahoney Award is at the top of his accomplishments,” Heitman said.
Bercu said that for him, it’s been maintaining a good name and reputation after 28 years in the industry.
“Closing a big deal is important and fun, but gaining the respect and friendship of fellow brokers, developers/owners and ancillary professionals provides me more satisfaction,” Tarantur said. “It’s fun to do deals with people you like and respect and who like and respect you back. The fee is great, but getting to celebrate the success with someone you call a friend makes it better.”
In the weeks ahead, as AIRE makes a call for entries to be submitted for the award, additional past winners will be profiled to provide a “where are they now/what have they done” look into the Frank Mahoney Award.
In the meantime, here is a look at some interesting information about previous award winners that not many people know:
- When it comes to the firms that produce the most Frank Mahoney Award Winners, one stands out like it was the US Mint. Eight recipients of the Award are either now with or started their careers at NAI Hiffman.
- Three recipients—Kelly Gray, Christine Choi and Aileen Gazzolla Sandstedt have been women, including the last two award winners.
- After winning the award, several recipients have gone on to give back to the industry and the association, and are currently serving as board members (Adam Tarantur and Adam Marshall).
- Two previous winners went on to become President of the Association (Dan Leahy and Chris Gary).