Because people are at the core of Stream’s success, we learned to identify the most talented individuals who contribute to our unique culture of service and leadership. As Stream continues to grow its business and people, we are taking this opportunity to spotlight our talented employees from all service lines, cities, and departments. These individuals are selected because they have made a significant impact on Stream, the commercial real estate industry and the local community.
For those who don’t already know him, we would like to shine a spotlight on:
Mark Gardner serves as an Executive Vice President for Stream Realty Partners’ office tenant representation division in the greater Southern California. Mark has focused on tenant representation for his entire 20-year commercial real estate career and has completed many of the area’s largest transactions. Mark specializes in serving corporate clients in multiple locations. His research-based negotiation style provides his clients with the leverage to reduce cost and increase operational flexibility.
Martin Pupil, Managing Director: “I am really excited to have Mark in the team as he brings a vast amount of experience in solving complex transactions for clients.”
Why did Mark choose to leave his previous role and move to Stream? and what is his advice on mentorship? Here he answers those questions and more.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Friendly, focused and detail oriented.
What was it that initially drew you to Stream?
Stacy Garcia (my partner) and I started out at a boutique tenant rep firm a little over 20 years ago. We experienced a great deal of success selling to customers on the basis of avoiding conflict of interest, which is a major advantage for tenant rep clients. After about 12 years, we noticed the market was shifting and clients were seeking a robust platform of services, with more bells and whistles like data analytics and reporting—so we both moved to Newmark Knight Frank. The move gave us the ability to compete on a more global scale, as well as the opportunity to learn the capabilities and methodologies of a corporate real estate provider.
When our contract was up after six years, we felt that Stream offered the values and services that appealed to us on so many levels. We were drawn to the “broker-first” mentality, which for us, leads to putting clients first. Stream is a people-centric company that values its employees and embodies a positive culture, which is very important to us. The company’s people-centric, client-focused perspective, combined with the market data, expertise, analytics, marketing capabilities and all of the resources we need to support our clients, made the decision to move very clear for us.
Can you tell me a little bit about your role with the company?
To put it simply: I’m a problem-solver for my clients. I strategically partner with them to represent their acquisition and/or disposition needs for office space. I provide them with the most equitable real estate solutions I possibly can. I don’t have formal managerial responsibilities, but I do enjoy mentoring some of the younger brokers on a more informal level.
What do you like most about working in Tenant Rep?
Problem solving. I’ve always enjoyed helping people and interacting with them to solve a complex challenge. I also enjoy the spirit of competition, which there is plenty of in this business. Another great benefit of working at Stream is that the marketing and corporate management side of the business is handled for you. This allows me to focus on identifying the people I can help and utilize my experience and perseverance to execute the solution I’ve identified for my clients. That’s incredibly rewarding.
It’s also exciting to work with clients throughout every cycle of their business; from the very beginning stages, to growing exponentially, to cashing out and then retiring. Having the opportunity to understand and internalize the goals of your clients’ business activities, and then transposing that onto a real estate transaction—doing it with personal dedication to these individuals who we’ve come to know and love—that’s really gratifying.
When you first start out in the industry, it’s definitely a grind, don’t get me wrong. All of that tough cold calling, trying to get in the door somehow, living on Ramen noodles…that’s no joke. But once you’ve built relationships and a robust book of business, most of the job is problem-solving and executing on initiatives. I’m at that stage in my career right now and it’s incredibly fulfilling.
What’s the most exciting project that you’re working on right now?
Our team is currently representing a technology firm that we’ve worked with from the very beginning of their lifecycle. When we first started doing business with them, they were focused on forging their own identity and moving out from under their parent company’s headquarters. We executed on a new headquarters lease for them as they grew and progressed into a formidable media content provider. In the midst of the lease’s lifecycle (which is now coming to expiration), they were subsequently acquired by one of the world’s largest content providers. So, throughout the course of time, we’ve been lucky enough to witness their transformation through numerous business iterations and we have continued to maintain our relationship with the people responsible for ensuring success for this group. Even though it’s essentially the same group and same company, each and every transaction we’ve handled for them has involved different motivations and parameters.
It’s rewarding when we can help our clients see past the rent and square footage to other crucial considerations, and how these factors differ with each and every real estate requirement. There’s no school for what we do, only experience, and that’s why our clients hire us.
What first interested you about the CRE industry?
I was playing on a softball team with someone who was a broker in the commercial real estate industry, and he really seemed to be enjoying his way of life. I found out they had a spot open, so I thought: why not, let’s give it a try. I think the reason why it stuck after all these years is that a career in CRE is a kind of “choose your own adventure,” There’s no one standing in front of you saying: “you can’t do this” or “you can’t do that.” Your ultimate job security is you—you’re the generator of your own income. Sometimes it’s a challenge—but an exciting one.
What’s the most significant challenge you currently face in your work?
I know the pandemic is an obvious answer, but it has been the most significant challenge most of us have faced in our careers. I was used to coming into the office early and staying late, but that reality quickly changed. Working from home became our new normal, and we had to figure out how to remain productive and successful throughout the process.
For those of us who are brokers, we were in uncharted waters. We’re in the people business, and Teams meetings are ok and all, but nothing gets someone’s attention as much as physical presence in a room. Physical meetings always seem to move a project forward faster, and the lack of personal interaction has slowed that down, taking a bit of the magic away from why we love this business so much. We’ve had to adapt and get creative. We’ve all had to recreate that presence somehow in different ways to engage with our clients on their own terms. However, every challenge is an opportunity to recreate yourself. The person who works a little harder to find that differentiator with their customers will succeed. As a broker, you can’t complain about the market slowing, or how things are different than what we’re accustomed to—you need to adapt quickly or get left behind.
Everyone has a different idea on how to manage the pandemic. Not every client is shutting down, and not everyone is operating in the same way. We’re acclimating ourselves to the environment that people want right now and helping them to look ahead.
What’s your favorite place to visit in California?
Hands down, it’s Yosemite National Park.
What advice would you give to a recent college grad looking to get into CRE in a tenant rep role?
If you’re in a commission-only role, as a salesperson you have to find the right people to partner with and learn from—the ones who are driven, disciplined and aggressive, but also those who possess a balance of humanity, integrity and friendliness.
Choose your mentors wisely and focus on connecting with people as much as possible.