Robert A. Knakal, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

Robert A. Knakal

A Disciplined

Editors’ Note

Previously, Robert Knakal was Chairman and Founding Partner of Massey Knakal Realty Services. He graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1984. He started his real estate career at CB Richard Ellis where he met Paul J. Massey Jr. They both left CB in 1988 to form Massey Knakal. To date, Knakal has been personally responsible for the sale of more than 1,700 buildings and over $14.5 billion in sales. On December 31, 2014, Cushman & Wakefield acquired Massey Knakal. Most recently, Knakal was ranked the number-one investment sales broker at Cushman & Wakefield, globally. In 1998, at the age of 36, he was named to Crain’s New York Business’s Forty Under Forty/New York Rising Stars list.

Company Brief

Cushman & Wakefield (cushmanwakefield.com) is a leading global real estate services firm that helps clients transform the way people work, shop, and live. Their 43,000 employees in more than 60 countries help investors optimize the value of their real estate by combining their global perspective and deep local knowledge with an impressive platform of real estate solutions. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest commercial real estate services firms with revenue of $5 billion across core services of agency leasing, asset services, capital markets, facility services (C&W Services), global occupier services, investment & asset management (DTZ Investors), project & development services, tenant representation, and valuation & advisory.

Massey Knakal is now part of Cushman & Wakefield. What made you feel that would be the right fit?

The thing that really differentiated Massey Knakal was its platform. It probably has the simplest but most disciplined platform that existed in the brokerage industry. We only represented sellers and only worked on exclusive listings, and each broker worked in a specific geographic territory.

That platform required tremendous discipline from management and from all of the agents but differentiated us from other people and gave us a distinct competitive advantage. This is why for the past 14 years, the company has sold about four times the number of properties as the number-two firm in the market. The history and heritage of the firm really was defined by its platform.

We thought that Cushman & Wakefield would be a great fit for us given the tremendous Cushman & Wakefield brand, which is probably the best in the industry.

With the world becoming an increasingly smaller place, we felt that having a global platform within which to work would benefit our people significantly.

Have the type of skills that a broker needs to be successful changed?

The nature of the brokerage business has changed and given how readily accessible data is today, the thing that is more illustrative of separating the top brokers from the rest of the pack is relying more heavily on their negotiating skills, their ability to help clients achieve objectives, and the relationships they have.

With regard to young people who want a career in real estate, what I tell young folks is they have to find what area of the business they truly love. There are so many aspects of real estate: investment, development, finance, and even in brokerage, there is sales brokerage, office leasing brokerage, mortgage brokerage – there are so many different things to do so young people should get exposed to as many different aspects of real estate as possible to find out what they gravitate towards, because having passion for what one does will really help one succeed. If one has passion, they will put in the time and if they put in the time, they will likely succeed and continue to improve themselves.

The folks who are most passionate about what they do tend to be the best people in their particular industry, so people need to try something they love and learn as much about that aspect of it as they can.