Robin Stolberg interned at Millennium Properties during his last college summer, which piqued his interest in commercial real estate. He started in commercial real estate at Equis in mid-2001; however, his path to a focused industrial expert began when he transitioned to Staubach (now JLL) in early-2007. Stolberg elected to transition in order to leverage his then corporate account experience into his own business, as a local market broker with an area of expertise. Suffice it to say: It was a great decision.
“My days are fun,” said Stolberg, Vice President, at Jones Lang LaSalle. “I thrive from the constant motion and activity. I am on email often prior to 6am, and finish the day at 10pm in my home-office on emails again. In between, I have the opportunity to interact with handfuls of people all day, and am not stuck behind a desk. I tour factories and distribution centers, and am able to see how all the items we consume daily are manufactured and distributed. I enjoy walking around a warehouse and getting lost in that.”
Stolberg also enjoys his work because, according to him, he’s lucky enough to conduct work in different markets across the country because of national clients.
“The Chicago industrial market is unique from other markets. Brokers compete with one another for new business every day, but, we work with one another in a much more collaborative demeanor than what I have experienced across other markets. Some of my friends that my wife and I go out with on a Saturday night are my competitors on Monday.”
JLL provides commercial real estate strategy, services and support to organizations around the globe. What sets the company a part from the rest, according to Stolberg, is simple: JLL’s people.
“We have an easily accessible resource/subject matter expert for anything a client can throw at us,” he said. “Our clients love this. We differentiate ourselves from other real estate firms because we know how/when to introduce these resources to add value to client’s issues, outside of traditional brokerage. Our people are consistently good across all markets.”
“We are lucky to have the velocity of deal flow that we do this year,” he added. “My team is currently in the market with a half dozen user demand projects totaling in excess of a million square feet. The agency side of the business is strong, but, as space is leased, we are working to replace that supply with new inventory.”
So after more than a decade in the industry, what’s the biggest lesson Stolberg has learned? It’s certainly a long-term business.
“The foundation, habits, and reputation you create today, you have to live with five years from now. It is really hard to grasp that at a young age, when all you are focused on is success and closing deals.”
Stolberg has closed his share of deals; one of his most memorable was with his partner, Kurt Sarbaugh. “We created our team in late-2007. The first sizeable project we completed together was a 150,000 square foot lease renewal and expansion in Lake County. We represented the tenant. I remember where we were, and how happy we were when the lease was signed. Closing that project was the reward we needed to justify the business plan we created together.”
With a degree in finance and economics, Stolberg enjoys the economics curriculum—it’s all about supply.
“When a company hires us to find them 75 or 100,000 square feet in Lake County, they want to understand every option that is available to them,” Stolberg noted. “Over the past few months, when we sit with clients to review supply inventory, they are consistently surprised by the lack of stock of inventory for their needs.”
“The supply is not out there as it was a few years ago,” he continued. “Most of the optimal buildings are spoken for. Companies are making more long-term strategic decisions, and leaning on our knowledge-base to guide them through that process. Along the same lines, my sub-market historically sees a healthy amount of user-buyers, at strong price per pound numbers. This is back to peak 2006 levels.”
Stolberg has beautiful 4-year old twin girls. So when he’s not working, he likes to maximize his time with them.
“The three of us go to breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings,” he said. “It is a ritual I look forward to every week. We have a blast, often consuming nothing that is remotely healthy. It gives my wife some much deserved time to herself as well. Taking care of two 4-year old’s is substantially harder than being a real estate broker; I give her a ton of credit. She keeps it all together for our family.”
Who’s Stolberg’s biggest mentor? It’s too easy: His father.
“He guided me into who I am, in business and in life. He taught me the fundamental skill of hard-work, which took me until the last handful of years to truly harness and understand. It is not just about hours, it is about recognizing what tasks can be accomplished during the day. He taught me when in your business and family life to take risks. And, he showed me by example, to be at the dinner table with my kids.”
Although football season is well underway, Stolberg isn’t watching because he is not a fan—something his wife enjoys. “Interesting fact is she says it is one of my best characteristics.”