By Al Barbarino
Andrew Barrocas, 33, CEO of residential marketing and brokerage firm MNS, has always been good at being his own boss.
When he was 12, he ran a landscaping business in a suburb of Rockland County. By 14, he was plowing snow with a motorcycle plow. On a good day, he was cashing in $1,000 while most kids his age were going sledding, he said. He visited local construction sites, selling bagels, coffee, candy.
By age 16, he had started a summer ice cream business, literally trucking around town, junior license in hand, doling out ice cream to kids not much younger than he was.
Putting in 15 hours a day, seven days a week, Barrocas said he made $50,000 running the ice cream truck that summer. He had originally asked his father for a cash advance in order to fill his ice cream truck. But his father offered him guidance only. It would be weeks before his profits allowed him to fill the ice cream truck.
When the day came, it was an all-time high for the young entrepreneur. The next day… the refrigerator broke. He watched his profits melt away, but it would solidify into one of his most valuable lessons.
“My father always said you can get anything in life — you just have to work for it,” Barrocas said. “He also told me that you never know what tomorrow will bring, and that this is what being in business is like.”
Today, Barrocas oversees more than a billion dollars in real estate. The lessons learned and the values instilled in him as a boy ring true as ever.
There are high moments, as well as ice cream-melting moments. What gets him through it is his ability to deal with rejection and his utter refusal to accept complacency.
“I fail at more things in a year than most people do in a lifetime,” he said. “It’s a rollercoaster, but I always keep pushing. Whenever something negative happens, I know that a positive thing will follow.”
The married father of two young girls said his own father continues to guide him, calling him his greatest mentor and “a big part of my success.” Every time he makes a company bank deposit, he takes his father’s advice, printing out the deposit slip, sticking it on the wall, not settling for the accomplishment, but using it as a temporary benchmark that will only be surpassed.
“I remember the first deposit we made for $100,000, I made a copy,” he said. “Two years ago, I made a deposit for $1 million, I made a copy. Now I want a $10 million deposit — and $100 million after that. The fun and excitement is not when you get the goal, it’s the hard work you put into achieving the next one.”
Barrocas graduated from the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in 2001. With his degree in marketing and a focus on international business, after school he found himself dodging offers from companies that paid $25,000 a year.
Though a standing offer from his father to go into international manufacturing of women’s fashion accessories was on the table, he soon realized his earning potential in real estate would far surpass even what his father was willing to pay him.
After a lucrative stint with Citi Habitats, Barrocas founded The Real Estate Group in 2005, later forming a joint venture with The Developers Group. In 2011 they rebranded as MNS, under an agreement that he would run both companies.
Over the last five years he has grown the company to over 125 people, taking pride in the fact that the growth was organic. “No other company has grown as much as we have without some type of infusion of start-up capital or existing branding,” he said. “We are self-funded and self-made, making us one of the more successful boutique firms with a whole lot of potential.”
The firm specializes in everything from marketing new developments, landlord representation, to investment sales and consultation, adding value through maximizing rents and specialized block-by-block knowledge, issuing monthly reports that highlight neighborhood trends, giving landlords, banks, underwriters, investors, renters a real-time view of the industry.
Barrocas employs a specialized team of brokers, architects, designers and e-commerce professionals to get it right.In the past few years, his firm has handled some of the highest profile projects in the city, including One Brooklyn Bridge Park, where several price records have been shattered, and The Edge in Williamsburg, which has sold more units than any other building for four consecutive quarters.
Benjamin Levine, vice president of Douglaston Development, which built The Edge, gave credit to Barrocas’ firm for reaching the recession-beating numbers.
“Andrew and the MNS team have done a terrific job handling the marketing and sales of The Edge,” said Levine. “His efforts have helped earn the project the title of the city’s best selling development for the last three quarters.”
Last month, Barrocas added a new dimension to MNS with the launch of a new Investment Sales and Capital Advisory (ISCA) division. Led by MNS partner David Behin, the ISCA is a boutique advisory service specializing in development consulting, funding, marketing and sales of real estate opportunities throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.
It’s the first advisory service, according to Barrocas, to have complete access to the resources and proprietary research of MNS’ residential brokerage.
“The launch of ISCA has brought our firm a whole new level,” said Barrocas. “We’re able to service all of our clients’ needs in one shop.”
In the few months since its inception the ISCA has already brokered several new development sites, including the St. Vincent de Paul church in Williamsburg, a 75,000 s/f conversion site, and the note for 53 Broadway, an 80,000 s/f piece of vacant land in Williamsburg.
In addition, they have raised over $14 million in equity for new development projects.Though he has some regrets because his “acting and modeling career never took off,” Barrocas said jokingly, he couldn’t be happier.
He called his wife Rachel and two daughters, Caydan, 3, and Ella, 1, “the three most beautiful girls in the whole wide world,” and looks forward to continued success in an industry that always keeps him on his feet.