Meet The Next Generation of Leaders in MAREJ's 30 Under 30
Troy Schaafsma | Sales Associate | The Blau & Berg Company
Years with company/firm: 2 ½ years
Years in field: 6 Years
Years in real estate industry: 10 years
How do you contribute to your company and/or the industry?
Coming from a construction background, I am able to advise clients on fit-outs and build-to-suit projects by understanding the costs and processes of construction and development. With my background in ground-up construction, I have been focusing on sourcing development sites for Class A warehousing. As the demand for industrial real estate grows in NJ, I have been branching out from traditional markets and sourcing deals elsewhere.
Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in, about your current position and why you choose the field/profession you are in today?
I began my real estate career in high school when I started working for a luxury home developer building multi-million-dollar homes in the greater NYC market. I quickly realized I loved the real estate industry and wanted to learn more about the commercial sector. After college, I was leasing a warehouse for a startup import company. That’s where I fell in love with commercial real estate, logistics, and the industrial market. I began reaching out to reputable commercial brokers in the area, looking to get my foot in the door. The company I am with now has a strong mentorship program, which was appealing. I was a quick study and immersed myself in networking and canvassing. The commercial real estate field comes naturally to me because I’m genuinely invested in it. Every day I learn something new.
What unique qualities and or personality trait do you feel makes you most successful in your profession?
I think personality is half the battle in brokering. I have noticed that networking is key. By having an outgoing personality and learning to connect with all types of people, I can establish trust and likability with others, a crucial component for deal-making. You also need to have the ability to pick yourself up and brush off the negatives, as there will be times where you lose a deal nearing completion, you have a difficult client or broker, or encounter other situations that test your resolve.
What outside activities do you enjoy during your free time?
I truly love to be active and outdoors. In my free time I like to golf, surf and adding to my list of travel. I had the opportunity to live in Australia for a few months which sparked my passion for travel and exploring new places and cultures. I also enjoy trying new restaurants; you are likely to find me dining out at the newest Omakase restaurants in NYC.
The best piece of advice is to find an industry you have a passion for and network as much as you can to get yourself in the door. Even if your initial opportunity is not the one of your dreams, you will develop skills and learn from others while making a name for yourself. Eventually you will narrow down your interests, and it may not be what you initially anticipated. Nothing will be earned by waiting and you are unlikely to be handed anything, so you just need to put yourself out there and jump right in. If that means networking on LinkedIn, through friends, or friends of friends, attending industry events or alumni events, I suggest trying all avenues and something will click. It all starts with you and your drive.
Who do you feel was most influential in your life when choosing this profession?
The most influential person when choosing my profession was my father. He is a developer, and I grew up on job sites. My whole life I was around development projects and real estate transactions which really nurtured my passion for a career in this industry. I knew I wanted to get into real estate development and ownership. The best way to learn is by doing, so I took a leap into commercial real estate brokering focusing on industrial assets in the North Jersey market. His influence definitely planted the real estate seed.