By Al Barbarino
Straight-shooting industry stalwart Mark Jaccom joined Cresa’s New York office last month as president and managing principal, falling back on his roots in tenant representation.
After six years as CEO and co-chairman of Colliers International, Jaccom, 57, looks back with no regrets. But he feels a newfound freedom at Cresa, where he plans to define his legacy and focus on what he does best.
“I’m back where I should be,” Jaccom said. “I realized more and more at Colliers that I could not, with conviction, sell tenant rep when I represented both the landlords. Coming into Cresa, I feel like I’m back home.”
Jaccom, a Bronx native, cut his teeth in the industry at Studley, a Cresa rival focused on tenant representation. He spent 15 years there as vice chairman and principal, and spearheaded the firm’s Corporate Services and Industrial Services Groups.
“I respect the Studley brokers and I think what they’re going to see now is that they truly have a competitor in town for the first time,” Jaccom said.
Jaccom plans not only to grow Cresa’s reach in the tri-state region, but also to make the firm smarter, by building upon its focus on internal consulting, he said. At Collier’s, Jaccom said there were 10 consultants for the 150 brokers he oversaw. When Jaccom doubles his team of 22 employees at Cresa over the next two years to over 40, as planned, there will be roughly 15 consultants.
“It emboldens brokers when they don’t have to stand in line to access a consultant,” he said.
Lawyers, graphic designers, financial analysts, researchers and the like will be at each broker’s disposal to research companies, to strategize and plan, and to execute crime studies, wage contours, and more.
“We want the brokers to mine their relationships and have the intellectual capital to go back to help them,” he said. “This ensures that whether we’re working on a 5,000 foot deal or a 500,000 foot deal, the same service is given. We don’t have to worry about competing against one another and we share all intelligence we get on the outside.”
Jaccom was instrumental in building a real estate consulting group at Colliers. But after Colliers went public, he no longer felt as though the company focus was where it needed to be, feeling more like a “glorified manager under a tremendous amount of bureaucracy” than a CEO, he said.
“There were too many checks and balances,” he said. “The new organization that we sold to wasn’t interested in the people, they were only interested in the bottom line. That doesn’t make them bad people, but (the bottom line) was not something that I was solely concerned with.”
Both as a broker and a manager, Jaccom has a reputation for his tenacity and fire. He demands the “ultimate honesty and integrity” from his workers, as “someone who rolls up their sleeves and doesn’t just talk the talk,” leading by example, coming in early in the morning and staying late at night, he said.
“When you work for me you’ve got to hold on. I use an expression — if you get on the train, you either ride with me, or you’re going to fall of quickly,” he said.
“But whoever has worked for me has learned, has made a lot of money and are people at the end of the day that are successful,” he said, adding that at least 20 senior brokers across the country at major firms got their start under his leadership.
“Today, I have a relationship with many of them who still call me. We’re competitors, but we’re still friends. And I think that’s a testament to who I am.”
That tenacity and ability to maintain relationships has allowed Jaccom to assemble a diverse array of corporate accounts and a roster of clients that includes names like Capital One Bank, Cigna, Citibank, Charles Schwab, CMP Publishing, Colgate-Palmolive, John Wiley & Sons, Publicis, Toshiba, Willis, and Verizon.
“When I was thinking of leaving, I called all of my clients and they said ‘Wherever you go, I’m going to follow you’,” Jaccom said. “So far so good — 99.9 percent of them are coming aboard with me.”
He’s also picking up business right out of the box. He has officially been on the books at Cresa for just a few weeks and already picked up a 85,000 s/f requirement, which he said he went blow to blow with Studley on. But every deal is very precious in this market, he said.
“We do not see the traction we used to see,” he said. “But New York is in a bubble. Even though it’s part of the U.S. we’re really part of a global market and when it picks up, it will ramp up quickly.”
Until then, he’s focused on making sure his decision to join Cresa lives up to his high expectations.
“I want to look back five years from now and say I’ve had a lot of good journeys, but that I built this thing at Cresa,” he said. “This is my baby. It will be the cherry on the cake.”