Back At the Helm
A Chat With Colliers International’s Michael Cohen
After stepping back from his role at Colliers International’s New York Tri-State Region for
several years due to personal matters, Michael Cohen is back at the helm. Effective January
1, 2012, Cohen officially resumed his role as president of the office. Real Estate Forum’s
Carl Gaines caught up with Cohen recently to find out where he hopes to take the firm in the
future. Baseball metaphors abounded.
REAL ESTATE FORUM: What do you
focus on here?
MICHAEL COHEN: I’m a classic player
coach, which means that I have client
responsibility as well as administrative
responsibility. Like any other executive, it
means I have to surround myself with great,
qualified people to assist in both spheres.
Fortunately I have a great COO, Joe Caridi,
who helps me in running the company.
Insofar as managing
clients’ business, I
have the 120
68 REAL ESTATE FORUM FEBRUARY 2012
area to pick and choose from to assist me
on assignments. There are a lot of great
people here and I get to work with them
all. Some firms have teams and silos. Here,
we are the antithesis of that structure.
FORUM: You all did a lot of hiring last
year. Were most of them senior positions?
COHEN: No, and that’s the point. Our
strategy is to build for the future. We are
in this business for the long term and have
a cadre of senior people who each have
20 and 30 years in the business. But what
is elusive in the business today, what you
need to do the same as you would if you
were managing a ball team, is to build for
the next generation.
Since the beginning of 2011, we’ve hired
22 brokers throughout the tri-state region.
They span a range of specialties, including
Robert Corbi, Jason Lund, John Cahill
and Frank Lopriore, who are all on the
leasing side; Andrew Simon, who handles
both leasing and investment sales; and Jeff
Oram, who is purely investment sales.
FORUM: Have you noticed any substantial changes in the market since returning
to the company?
COHEN: For the first half of last year, the
market appeared to be undergoing the classic New York City recovery. I thought, “I’ve
seen this movie before and I know what’s
going to happen.” I advised my clients
accordingly and we even started to look at
some new investments because we were in
the first inning of a recovery and by the
third or fourth inning, everybody would
be piling on, so the early mover advantage
would be lost.
FORUM: In what areas of the city do you
see the most opportunity?
COHEN: I think Lower Manhattan is to
Manhattan what Midtown South was in
the 1980s and ’90s. It’s the logical overflow
market for tenants that don’t want to leave
the city. They want to stay on the subway
line and be in a conventional high-rise
building, but can’t afford to be in Midtown
or Midtown South.
FORUM: How does the Tri-State group
fit in with Colliers International’s overall
COHEN: We’re looking to the Colliers
brand and resources to grow our market
share in New York. Depending on what
measure you use, Colliers is the third or
fourth largest firm on the globe. I want
to see this office become one of the top
three or four in New York, and we have
some fierce competition to get there.
We’re a service company, so it’s all about
people. One of the advantages of being a
Colliers office is the terrific global reach
they have both in terms of clientele, which
they service around the world, or other
markets around the country that we can
migrate into New York. They also have
a great toolbox of service lines and
expertise and personnel who roam
the globe looking for opportuni-
ties to help the regional offices
expand their market share. ◆
Photo: Carl Gaines
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