Rod Santomassimo: The Secrets of Superstar Brokers

For his new book, Brokers Who Dominate, Rod Santomassimo, founder and president of The Massimo Group, spent two years interviewing the young guns, dominators and game changers who have shaped the commercial real estate industry.  In an exclusive interview with the AlterNow Podcasts, Rod tells us about these superstar brokers and their tales of ambition, grit and pure courage that are unforgettable.

Rod Santomassimo Photo - Part 2 - The Alter Group Podcast SeriesOne of Rod’s favorite get-up-and-go stories is about a young man from Owensboro, Kentucky named Bo Barron who, after a mediocre time at college, joined the Marines to learn discipline. While in the service, he led a platoon of more than 20 Marines and received two joint service achievement medals. What he learned gave him the will to finish his degree, join his father’s firm, grown it into a regional Sperry van Ness affiliate and finally structure a purchase so he could be his own boss – all within 2 years.

In terms of dominators, Rod tells the story of Bob Knakal, the number one investment broker in the number one firm in New York. Massey Knakal has sold more assets than any other firm year after year for ten years in a row now, according to Globe Street. Armed with a Wharton degree, Bob began his career thinking he’d become the next Gordon Gecko but financial institutions weren’t hiring. Thinking Coldwell Banker was one of the smaller banks, Knakal put in one last resume and was offered an internship. When he found out that it was a real estate company, he hesitated but finally took the gig. These were the humble beginnings of what would become Massey-Knakal Realty services which now has 100 employees, four offices and thorough coverage of the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester County, Long Island and New Jersey, closing over 4,200 transactions worth $15 billion.

And finally, Rod told us about a true game changer in the in the industry –  Jerry Andersen, now Executive Managing Director at Sperry van Ness.  He began his career at 21 as an exercise physiologist, making $13,000 a year and newly married to Jodi, a nurse. One day Jerry overheard some doctors talking about buying a piece of property. Knowing nothing about real estate, Jerry offered to help them look. They told him they’d reward him with a little cash for his time.  Scrambling to figure out how to do this assignment, Jerry asked his jogging partner for help. Which he did – told him to look at properties, see what’s for sale, how to do a cash flow statement. Surprisingly, the deal went through and a major real estate career was born.  What happened after this is the stuff of movies – a journey of incredible success but also incredible struggles, including a plane crash that almost took Jerry’s life.  But Jerry persevered and became one of the most influential brokers of all time, pioneering things that we take for granted today – a single point of service on corporate accounts, how to structure broker teams and developing the strategy behind brokerage assignments.

To hear these stories of success and survival in the brokerage world, listen to the latest episode of the AlterNow Podcasts, Rod Santomassimo on Secrets of Superstar Brokers.