Lee & Associates’ Rinkov: No Secret Formula Needed for a Thriving CRE Career

Jeffrey Rinkov this year celebrated his 23rd anniversary in the commercial real estate business, with each of those years spent at the same company, Lee & Associates. Rinkov started at the firm as a rookie broker in 1997. By 2013, he had risen to become the company’s chief executive officer in the firm’s Los Angeles-Central/Commerce office, a position he still holds.

What is the secret to Rinkov’s steady success?  How did he manage to become the CEO of one of the nation’s biggest commercial real estate firms? There’s been no magic formula. Like most successful commercial real estate professionals, Rinkov worked hard, built a deep roster of satisfied clients, studied his industry and did everything he could to secure the best results for his clients in every transaction.

Midwest Real Estate News spoke with Rinkov about the steps he’s taken to succeed, what he enjoys most about commercial real estate and his hopes for the future of the industry and life after COVID-19.

Here is some of what this long-time CRE pro had to say.

Can you think back to what led you to a career in commercial real estate?
Jeffrey Rinkov:
Abject desperation. I had worked in a family business, a textile manufacturing company. That business was fazed out and partially sold. Late in our trajectory, we bought an industrial building. During that process, I had engaged with a few really talented, successful real estate brokers. When the business was no longer occupying that building, we needed a tenant. We called those brokers and hired them to lease the building for us.

When we were signing the leases, the brokers asked me what I was going to do now. I figured I’d move back to New York or San Francisco and stay involved in some way in the textile industry. But I said, jokingly, that I was planning to get my real estate license and work for them. To my surprise, they said they thought that’d be great.

After we finished signing the leases, they closed the door in the conference room and said, ‘If you can give us to May we might have an opportunity for you.’ They were leaving the commercial real estate firm they were with and were planning to open an office for Lee & Associates. They said they’d love to have me come and work with them.

So you took that big leap?
I had known CRE brokers for a long time. I had some exposure to the business. I knew it to be an entrepreneurial business that didn’t requite a lot of capital upfront. I knew that your success was driven by the effort you put in. That was the driving force for me. I could work as often and as hard as I wanted. If you did that, there was no ceiling to what you could achieve. That was the most appealing thing to me about entering the business.

At the same time, I did have some experience in selling, leading groups of people and engaging with business leaders while working the textile industry. That was all part of my prior experience, which is something that I think helped me when I was getting started at Lee & Associates. The upshot was, I became a CRE rookie broker at 30 years old.

Now that you’ve been in the business for more than two decades, what do you enjoy most about it?
I love how dynamic the industry is. I love the diversity among the product types and the challenges of adjusting to different market factors. I always enjoy having the opportunity to solve problems for clients. That is why commercial real estate brokers will always exist, have always existed and have a long runway ahead of them. Other types of brokers might become more marginalized over time as technology and business changes. But commercial brokers deal with a dynamic market with a lot of external and internal factors that drive transactions. We work in a landscape that is always subject to change. Because of that, there will always be a need for talented, hard-working commercial brokers.

Look at what is happening in the world today. You have disciplines like industrial that even during this pandemic is not only surviving but thriving. Then you see the transition that is taking place in retail. That has been going on for some time now but is only increasing its pace now. Look at how the pandemic is driving discussions about transitioning and repurposing how people use office space. People need brokers to help them make these big real estate decisions. And they will always need them.

If you look historically at where wealth has been built, you see that it largely comes from either inheritance, technology or real estate. It’s an interesting thing to have the opportunity to work with successful people in one of those three big areas. That’s why I enjoy this business so much. Read More >

Lee & Associates offers an array of real estate services tailored to meet the needs of the company’s clients, including commercial real estate brokerage, integrated services, and construction services. Established in 1979, Lee & Associates is now an international firm with offices throughout the United States and Canada. Our professionals regularly collaborate to make sure they are providing their clients with the most advanced, up-to-date market technology and information. For the latest news from Lee & Associates, visit lee-associates.com or follow us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Link, our company blog.