Larry Montanus is a Senior Advisor at SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler. He has global experience in mergers and acquisitions which prepared him for his role as a brokerage and real estate advisor. In this excerpt, Larry discusses the importance of networking over his experience in both M&A and in his journey into real estate.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. Listen above for the full podcast.
How has your work in M&A helped in commercial real estate? That's why Todd [Dantzler] came and talked to me. He came to me and said: “Look, we don't have anyone here who's had that corporate mentality.” Not just the M&A work, but also as a CEO, looking at an investment of a plant, buy or lease, warehouse etc. It's the other side of the coin, but it is a different perspective. Who you're trying to please, in all this, are your shareholders and your board of directors. It is totally different from sellers and buyers. That was a perspective that Todd thought I could bring.
What is your focus as a broker? My focus is on building a business brokerage group. We have to do podcasts, I did some written blogs, and we need to publicize those things. Then I've got to get a newsletter in the hands of accountants, lawyers, people, bankers, who have clients that are small business owners. I go to these chamber networking events and there's all small business people there.
Why is networking important? It's just that one thing, “There's no such thing as a stupid question, the only stupid question is the one you should have asked and didn’t.” Well, it’s the same thing, “Oh boy, I’ve never done a deal there.” Well, don't go and it won't happen. The worst thing you can do is go out there, start handing out business cards, and trying to win business. You got to work it in. You don't go into a lengthy 40 minute podcast, but you briefly mention it and then you move on. Then, you see him again sometime and push it a little bit.
It’s you and me. It's two people. There was a CEO I had become friends with and he saw me in the lobby one day. He goes, “Larry, the zeros don't matter. You've got a product you got to push, you've got money you need to raise, but most importantly, you've got to have good people. I don't care what the size of your business is.” Well, he's right. It's the same thing in real estate. Money is clearly important, that's why you're buying and selling. Your product is not only us as individuals, but our systems, our support groups, our staff. We got a good product, what we need is good people. The people you're going to deal with are people. So, it doesn't matter how many zeros are to the left of the decimal point.
It's not just the buyer and the seller. What I think they've done remarkably well here is putting people together who get along. This does not have an environment where it's every man or woman for themselves.
How is SVN | SRD compared to other companies? Not everybody loves each other here but it's teamwork. Most of our guys and girls are working in teams. We can draw on each other's experience. It's a great collegial atmosphere.
What advice would you give to new brokers? I would tell them to hook up with somebody with a lot of experience. Open your ears, know that old stupid joke, “You got two ears and one mouth?” Well, use that. There's so much experience in this building, so many things you can learn. That's number one. Number two is to learn the systems because our systems here are phenomenal. There's a stupid ad on radio right now saying, “There have been no advancements in technology in the real estate business.” Boy, that's not true in this office. Then Jonathan [Barreras] preaches right and left to build your database, that’s very important. But the first one is the most important. Listen and learn.
It’s not just one person, it’s everybody. There's so many different disciplines inside this building. You got land, industrial, commercial. Don't hook yourself naturally to one person and definitely come to the meetings.