Face-to-Face with Harry Macklowe Part 3

October 04, 2018

Harry Macklowe, Chairman of Macklowe Properties speaks with EisnerAmper Real Estate Services Group Chair Ken Weissenberg about how he built his career in the third part of this series.


Ken Weissenberg: Ken Weissenberg from EisnerAmper here with Harry Macklowe at 432 Park Avenue, a magnificent building. You grew up here in the New York area and you're a native of New Rochelle.

Harry Macklowe: This is true.

KW: I heard rumors that you had ended up in Alabama somehow.

HM: This is true also. By the way, talking about New Rochelle, the elevator operator here who's been taking us up and down says, “I know you from New Rochelle. I went to New Rochelle high school.” It was much earlier than I had, but it made me feel good.

So I went through the University of Alabama because I thought it'd be interesting to try a college in the southeast. I did not get into either Yale or Harvard, so Alabama was a very enticing. It was very interesting, both culturally and educationally.

KW: Then you came back to New York. How did you get involved in real estate? Was that the first endeavor you were involved in?

HM: I was actually involved in the advertising business. I had a training program at a big advertising agency who did a lot of work for General Motors, around the corner from here on 57th and Madison. And I was just overwhelmed. thought it was a wonderful world. I like television which was a mainstay of the advertising agency. And I loved that, being able to see the Milton Berle show, being able to take scripts back and forth in my training program. I liked that, and that's how I actually was introduced to these buildings here on 57th Street and I always wondered, that's going back 50 years, why they were here. Ultimately I found out why, and bought them. A very expensive why I liked the advertising business but I felt that I was restricted. My kind of, hit a glass ceiling and made me feel that my future was limited there. At the same time, I had taken an apartment. I was fascinated by the man who renovated the building; who created it, and I thought that was a very stimulating, provocative business, or something that I could use the creative juices that I felt I had in the advertising world together with what latent feeling of architecture and design I had, but didn't really recognize.

So early on in my youth, I gravitated towards real estate. One of my friends suggested that I interview with two or three of the then brokerage companies, and they all offered me a job. I took the one that paid no salary and had no advance because if you rented the office space, if you were successful selling a building or renting office space, you would receive a commission. Half the commission would go to you, and half to your employer. I felt that I'd be able to earn more money on a commission base than I would in a salary, and a small stipend. Well it took me a year to start making leases, but it was so stimulating and I had an opportunity to meet other landlords, other brokers, other companies and forged the relationship and a little bit of my advertising background was a help, and my curiosity I suppose was more of a help. And I think probably then I was challenging myself since it was solely me who was making the earnings and trying to cause transactions to happen. So I've never lost that zeal of the idea of putting two people together, brokerage capacity, and in fact that's pretty much what I do now. Not brokerage but speaking to the bank's and having an understanding of the push and what it is that they want, what we need and of course working with other institutions. I find that the very beginning of my career has been enormously helpful and something that I've built on.

KW: Well, you’re known as a true…

About Kenneth Weissenberg

Kenneth Weissenberg CPA, Tax Partner in Real Estate Services, is experienced in tax saving strategies and negotiating sales and acquisitions. He represents owners of some of the most well-known real estate properties in New York City.

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