NAIOP New Jersey recently honored Alex Klatskin, general partner with Forsgate Industrial Partners, with the newly renamed Charles Klatskin Lifetime Achievement Award. From left: Gus Milano, NAIOP New Jersey president and chief operating officer of Hartz Mountain Industries, joins Alex Klatskin and JLL Vice Chairman Rob Kossar for the award ceremony. — Courtesy: Gary Gellman/Gellman Images
By Joshua Burd
As he prepared to accept NAIOP New Jersey’s Lifetime Achievement Award — one that, just a few months earlier, had been renamed for his late father, Charles — Alex Klatskin offered his thanks on behalf of both his family and Forsgate Industrial Partners.
He then displayed the sense of humor that was seemingly passed down from one generation to the next.
“I know he would be honored, and at the same time he would be puzzled why you chose to give it to me,” Klatskin said, drawing laughs from the crowd. “I know if he heard this first award was going to me, I know he would have said, ‘What’s the matter — no one else wanted it?’ ”
It was a lighthearted start to what would quickly become a poignant speech honoring Charles Klatskin, the pioneering developer, leader and luminary in the state’s commercial real estate industry, who died last fall at age 85. Speaking last week at NAIOP New Jersey’s annual Commercial Real Estate Awards Gala, Alex Klatskin paid tribute to his father, noting that it had been “374 days since his death and not one has gone by that I don’t think of him.”
“I miss his wisdom, his sage advice,” said Klatskin, a general partner with Forsgate. “I miss his long-, long-, long-, long-term vision regarding investing. I miss his ability to connect with people and, for the moments you were with him, you were the most important person in the world. And I miss his perpetually dropping cap rates, although it appears the market has finally caught up with him. I think we’re there now.”
He continued: “The things he loved the most were his family, his partners, his employees, the real estate industry and, of course, his wine collection. As you and I know, I would not be standing here if it was not for him.”
Klatskin spoke to several hundred industry leaders on hand for the Oct. 7 event, which took place at the Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset after last year’s gala was held virtually due to the pandemic. And he was far from the only one who extolled the impact of the late Forsgate chairman, longtime NAIOP member and visionary behind top industrial real estate markets such as the Meadowlands and Exit 8A of the New Jersey Turnpike.
Rob Kossar, a veteran broker and vice chairman with JLL, said Charles Klatskin “was the epitome of this award, providing decades of service to this organization and to the industry at large.”
“But for me, as many of you, ‘C.K.’ meant so much more,” said Kossar, who was a principal at Klatskin Associates when JLL acquired the firm in 2007. “I would not be standing here in front of you today but for the opportunity and the mentorship that he provided to me. At times he was a father figure, other times a friend. He was a confidante, he was a drinking buddy, a luminary and a business partner.
“I know I speak for many of you here in this room who had their lives improved by C.K.”
NAIOP New Jersey Chapter President Gus Milano said he was also among them.
“Over the years, Charles and I developed a close personal relationship. Notwithstanding the competitive nature of our business, he would be willing to give the sincerest guidance and advice,” said Milano, the president and chief operating officer of Hartz Mountain Industries. “To this day, my real estate repertoire and that of the Hartz Mountain organization is heavily influenced by my association and friendship with C.K.”
Milano, of course, was also there to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Alex Klatskin, an industry leader in his own right, who is a former NAIOP president and national chairman of the group’s corporate parent organization. He also cited Klatskin’s role as a second-generation leader and general partner with Forsgate, a Teterboro-based firm that owns and manages more than 10 million square feet of industrial property.
“Alex has been acting in this capacity for over 15 years and is the driving force behind Forsgate’s longevity and long-established commitment to developing superior buildings at superior logistics sites,” Milano said. “He has earned tremendous respect from his peers, who credit him with extraordinary vision and integrity.”
Klatskin, for his part, was humbled by the honor and said he agreed with anyone who believed he was lucky.
“I’m lucky to have had an entrepreneurial father that created a lot out of nothing,” he said. “I’m lucky to have had a father that believed in me and my ability to navigate the marketplace and lead our company. I am lucky.
“I’m lucky that my father partnered with the Seiden family 50 years ago, which has given Steve Seiden to me as a 30-year business partner. Steve is wise, hard-working and kind. He fulfills all of the promises that I make.
“I’m lucky to have fabulous and loyal members of our team — they make me look like I knew what was going on the whole time,” Klatskin quipped. “And I’m lucky to have a wife of 31 years, whose brilliance and beauty have taken me places. … I’m lucky to have a sister whose long-term patient capital allows our partnership to continue and to grow.”
He also said he was fortunate that Forsgate has its third generation of leadership in place, noting that “Sam Seiden and Jake Sutker are our future and I hope and have no doubt that they will stand here one day.” Equally important, he said, was the role of an association such as NAIOP.
“I’m lucky to have found NAIOP,” Klatskin said. “NAIOP has given me the ability to be subject to peer review, which is very important for any family business member.”
Alex Klatskin joined the association’s other 2021 honorees and its Deal of the Year recipients, which were unveiled at the event:
- Impact Award: Peter D. Sudler, chairman and CEO of Sudler Cos.
- Impact Award: Gensler
- Industry Service Award: Joshua Burd, editor of Real Estate NJ
- Caren S. Franzini Public Partner Award: Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin
- Office Deal of the Year: Eisai Inc.’s headquarters lease in Nutley at Prism Capital Partners’ ON3 campus. Involved in the deal were Prism, Eisai Inc. Savills and Cushman & Wakefield.
- Industrial Deal of the Year: The development of the FreezPak Logistics Center in Elizabeth and Newark. Involved in the deal were Elberon Development Group, Fidelco Realty Group, FreezPak, JLL, Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Ware Malcomb, Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC, Orloff, Lowenbach, Stifelman & Siegel P.A. and Preferred Industrial Properties.
- Judges’ Transformation Award: UPS’ 886,256-square-foot lease for a regional hub and package distribution center at the new 152.9-acre industrial park known as Lincoln Logistics Bayonne. Involved in the deal were Lincoln Equities Group and Cushman & Wakefield.