Peter Bronsnick joined Cushman & Wakefield in July 2021 as its New Jersey managing principal, with plans to add top industry talent and revamp how the firm identifies and pursues new business opportunities. — Photo by Aaron Houston for Real Estate NJ
By Joshua Burd
It was Peter Bronsnick’s first order of business after taking the helm of Cushman & Wakefield’s New Jersey office, one that should come as no surprise for a firm with such a large, longstanding connection to the local market.
“We have roughly a hundred brokerage professionals here … Ultimately, it was really just getting my arms around how they were set up,” said Bronsnick, who joined the firm last summer as its market leader and managing principal in the state. “The New Jersey region is special in that regard. We are fortunate that we have a group that really works in concert with each other and knows how to collaborate well — and that’s something we’re continuing to preach — but day one was really just digesting the magnitude and the scale of the size of the organization.”
He was unequivocal about what came next.
“Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting,” he said. “Getting the best-in-class professionals in the door.”
It’s been a clear priority for Bronsnick, a well-connected, well-respected industry executive who spent nearly a decade with SJP Properties before joining Cushman in July 2021. Look no further than last fall’s hiring of a six-member team from CBRE led by powerhouse industrial brokers Mindy Lissner and Bill Waxman. That gave way to several other notable additions this year, including investment sales specialist Niko Nicolaou, executive and business strategist Mike Staskiewicz and John Obeid, who will oversee research operations in New Jersey.
Not that hiring has been Bronsnick’s sole focus since he took the reins. The 20-year industry veteran has made it his mission to revamp how C&W identifies and pursues new business and revenue opportunities, all while advancing the long-held goal of creating a one-stop shop — better integrating its various disciplines and service lines. He’s also urged his brokers to position themselves as consultants who are invaluable to their real estate owner, occupier or investor clients, rather than simply a vendor who is dispensable or interchangeable.
Collectively, it may sound like a heavy lift in a business with big personalities and professionals who can fall back on decades of success. Bronsnick would agree — yet he believes, quite simply, that the plan is working.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, but the teams are starting to converse in a way that’s a consistent language,” he said. “And that’s what we want: developing strong business plans, targeting the right types of prospects in our business development efforts, presenting in a way that is different than the competition — these are more like working sessions than just telling everybody what we know how to do — and then servicing the client, really working through the real estate lifecycle.”
Bronsnick’s relationships have been critical, but so has his experience with SJP. He joined the prominent development firm in 2012 as a senior vice president of leasing, going on to expand his role over the next decade. In early 2020, he was named president of the firm’s New Jersey region, a post in which he helmed an operating and revenue-generating team that spanned more than 150 employees.
That encompassed leasing for both new development and redeveloped space, but also areas such as property and asset management and the recently launched SJP Project Solutions division, which provides consulting and construction services to third parties.
“The role at SJP was very entrepreneurial,” said Bronsnick, who now oversees nearly 200 employees across three C&W offices in New Jersey. “This is similar in that you have a full-service platform with verticals that look a lot like an (operating company), without the equity investment component. And what I’ve been preaching here that I’ve taken from the SJP model is the notion of integration and making sure the platform isn’t just working in silos, but communicating across all the different services that we have.”
Cushman’s newest hires in the state have spanned multiple fields and, at times, bolstered what was already an area of strength, as it did when it added Waxman, Lissner, David Gheriani, Christine Eberle, Chris Griffith and Michelle Merkel. The team, which joined in November 2021, came with a deep network of owner and occupier clients in a booming asset class, having secured several high-profile leasing assignments in recent months.
With Nicolaou, the firm had a chance to add a talented multifamily broker to its already high-powered capital markets team, while complementing an area led by veteran C&W broker Brian Whitmer. Bronsnick also pointed to Cushman’s $500 million investment last year in Greystone, the commercial real estate finance firm, which gave it a 40 percent stake in a multifamily lending platform that includes Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other debt products.
“We saw the opportunity for growth within our multifamily sector, and Nico fits it perfectly,” said Bronsnick, who is based in East Rutherford. “He’s got tremendous relationships within the private client side, within the institutional side.”
Equally critical was the addition of Staskiewicz this past spring, in a newly created post of leadership coach and business strategist, with an eye toward the firm’s talent and business pipelines in New Jersey. Part of that role is what Bronsnick describes as “more proactive revenue prediction” and a more strategic approach to prospecting, “as opposed to reacting in reverse to say ‘this is how much money we made this year.’ ”
“What we want to do is identify new inception points for new business and what is our ROI on our time relative to where we’re identifying those things,” Bronsnick said. “So it’s a heavy lift, but we’re trying to change the game and make this more about creating roadmaps for our brokerage professionals — as opposed to always relying on the vagaries of the market and reacting to the marketplace — effectively creating our own markets.”
That can mean looking for leads in different places, but also targeting more specific clients than simply casting a wide net, he added, such as “identifying multimarket opportunities that contemplate occupiers that are in several asset classes as opposed to one.” It also means conditioning brokers to leverage Cushman’s other offerings, such as project, property and asset management, to create the proverbial one-stop shop.
“This is what we’re doing locally, because our client base here in New Jersey is looking for someone to be able to service their accounts in one phone call,” Bronsnick said. “And the market doesn’t necessarily always appreciate that these groups work independently of each other. All they know is the brand, and we have a hundred-year-old brand that’s an incredible story to tell.”
He feels that integrating those groups is both practical and attainable at C&W, in that every unit and every brokerage team in New Jersey reports to the managing principal — including capital markets and industrial, office and retail leasing. He even believes that gives the firm a leg up on the other major brokerage houses in the state, where brokers and their managers are more segmented.
“And as you would imagine, there’s tremendous synergy between our capital markets group and our leasing teams, and there’s reciprocal business exchange between those two teams,” Bronsnick said. “So I’m working on a daily basis with capital markets, from a recruiting perspective, from a client interface perspective, from managing existing clients relative to the leasing efforts and making sure that we’re creating value so that when the client is ready, they bring the building back to capital markets to sell again.
“What we’re trying to do is create a wheel here and just keep the client inside our walls, which is why we have an advantage here.”
It’s part of what Bronsnick says is a new approach to the managing principal role, which was apparent early in his interviews with Toby Dodd, C&W’s New York tristate region president.
That was a key draw, he recalls, in addition to the main attraction of working with “a team of brokerage professionals that I have a tremendous amount of respect for.”
“The ability to work with this group was the primary driver, especially when Toby explained to me that they were looking at this role differently than they’ve ever looked at it in the past,” he said, adding that he would be tasked with being a sort of “disruptor” in the role.
“They’ve allowed me to do exactly what they’ve set out for in terms of changing the managing principal role. And it’s not exclusive to New Jersey.”
As for further growth, Bronsnick sees an opportunity to add leasing brokers “that have a specific focus on multimarket business plans” but are based in New Jersey, he said. He also sees the potential to further expand its capital markets and industrial practices, along with project management and the group that’s dedicated to clients in the life sciences sector.
It’s all meant to build on a foundation that goes back decades in New Jersey. He notes that Cushman has a long list of long-tenured brokers and professionals here, of varying ages, with a deep knowledge of what motivates their clients and other nuances from years of experience. Having Staskiewicz on the team will help ensure that the firm can take that expertise and establish it as a consistent template for the entire New Jersey region.
“These are critical things to being able to communicate well,” he said. “And what I want to do is transpose some of the knowledge of our veteran leadership and distill it down into our next-gen talent and our associates.”