By Joshua Burd
To Jim Petrucci, Stan Simon was everything you could ask for in a professional mentor.
As Petrucci recalled, he had “zero real estate experience” in the late 1980s, when he started his career at age 22. Yet Simon “always found time … to show me around and explain things to me.”
And there was one instance in which Simon’s influence was especially practical, he said. When Petrucci set out to launch his own development firm, the veteran broker introduced him to his auto dealer, helping him secure a fleet rate for a 1987 Cadillac deVille.
To a young entrepreneur, “(it) was a big deal at the time.”
“He was a tremendous class act,” said Petrucci, the president of what is now J.G. Petrucci & Co. in Asbury. “He really embraced the role of being a mentor and that’s something that made a big impression on me. And I’ve tried to carry on in that spirit.”
Simon’s impact and legacy are still felt today. That’s according to family, friends and former colleagues and clients who have paid tribute to the former industry leader since his death in late January. They recalled Simon, the longtime head of Jacobson Goldfarb & Tanzman LLC, or JGT, and its successor firm, as a “true gentleman” who was among the most effective, honest and respected figures in New Jersey commercial real estate — one who groomed and influenced many of the state’s top brokers.
Jay Garibaldi, a longtime broker and member of The Garibaldi Group in Chatham, said he and Simon crossed paths “quite often” during his more than three decades in the industry. He recalled him as an invaluable resource in what could be a “ruthless business.”
“The business changed dynamically over the years that I was actively involved in it,” Garibaldi said. “And over time it became important to have relationships with individuals from different firms, knowing full well that everyone’s going to be successful in their own right.
“So there were certain people you could go to in different companies that you could have open, honest and confidential discussions with, because you knew you weren’t going to be compromised in terms of what you were doing with your clients,” he added. “It enhanced your ability to do business on your own end, as well as their end.
“Stan was one of those guys … and that’s important to succeed — to have those kinds of relationships in the business.”
With a career that spanned more than 40 years, Simon joined Woodbridge-based JGT in 1967 and rose to become its managing partner by the late 1980s. He continued to guide the firm when it was acquired in 2001 by Newmark & Co. Real Estate, becoming the CEO of what was then known as Newmark JGT.
The Elizabeth native and longtime Livingston resident was also a 47-year member of what is now called the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, serving as its New Jersey chapter president in 1983.
“His love of real estate inspired all of his children to pursue a career in the industry,” his family said in a joint statement, alluding to the fact that his three sons — Michael, David and Jeffrey — followed in his footsteps.
His sons recalled their father’s approach to doing business.
“He listened carefully to opposing parties before making any suggestions,” they said. “He put himself in each party’s shoes and proposed compromises that were insightful, thoughtful and fair.”
Stanley Simon, 83, died on Jan. 26 at his winter home in Palm Beach, Florida. He is survived by Susan, his wife of 59 years, along with his three sons, five grandchildren and one daughter-in-law.
An obituary highlighted not only Simon’s real estate career and his influence on others, but his athletic abilities and passion for sports such as tennis and golf. To former colleagues, the interests seemed to go hand in hand.
“Stan was nothing if not an extremely good coach,” said Bill Cariste, a former partner at JGT who spent more than 25 years with the firm. He noted that Simon was “really interested in what was good for the team” and perhaps even “fair to a fault” for the brokerage business.
Cariste recalled that Simon was integral to JGT’s growth from a firm that had been focused largely on residential property management and land brokerage to one that became a leading player in the industrial and office sectors.
“That was a growing market,” he said. “Timing is everything. Those markets began to grow pretty substantially about the time that we were there and a lot of people came and went, but Stan was a constant presence.
“He was a very good guy, and he was extremely fair and judicious.”
Simon’s thoughtfulness, respect and evenhandedness extended to clients as well.
“In our business and in any business, it’s nice to have people who are friendly and who honor their commitments,” said David Halpern, CEO of Atlantic Realty Development Corp., who also was JGT’s longtime landlord in Woodbridge. “You trust that they’re on your side and they’re not looking to say one thing and do another. Whatever he said, he meant and whatever he could deliver, he would.”