by Eric B. Lewis, MAI, FRICS
President, Valuation & Advisory Americas
We’re recognizing the individuals within our Valuation & Advisory (V&A) group who have hit major anniversary milestones this year, by asking these veterans a few questions. After having been with the firm for 20 years or more, it’s interesting to hear about their experience, tenure, and what keeps them going. I had the chance to talk with Rick “the Mallman” Latella, who has worked for our Retail team for over three decades…
You’ve now been with the firm 35 years and have focused on Retail since about 1989. What changes within the appraisal industry and/or your market have you seen since you began your career? Where do you think it is heading?
When I started in the business it was very difficult to get market information. We had to build a good network of contacts from which we could share and exchange. You had to develop skills at getting buyers and sellers to speak to them about a deal in order to understand the trade. Today information is much more readily available and transparent, and professionals have a myriad of sources in which to assist them with the data needed for the appraisal.
Like many professions, the valuation business has been impacted by technology. Turn times and fees have dropped as a result of the innovations the industry has embraced, and this trend shows no sign of abating.
How did you get your start in commercial real estate/why did you choose to go into the appraisal profession?
In 1976 I started hanging around my grandfather’s small real estate brokerage business. In addition to brokerage, he was an SRA who appraised homes. He had been in politics and had several high-level connections, so when the State of New Jersey instituted its Green Acres Program, he was getting a lot of eminent domain work as the state began taking land for parks, recreation, and highways. I found the business quite interesting, and, after graduating, I went to work for the New Jersey Division of Taxation and became a certified tax assessor. After three years, I went to work for a firm that appraised a lot of hospitals and nursing homes and three year after that, I found Cushman & Wakefield and never looked back.
What is it about Cushman & Wakefield that has helped you reach this anniversary/keep you here?
Cushman & Wakefield has an excellent global reputation as having the greatest collection of talented valuation professionals. There is a reason why there are many others like myself who are long-tenured employees. We’ve found the culture and environment here to be very conducive to building a rewarding career and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.
What was the most unusual assignment you’ve ever had or what has been the most memorable/your favorite?
There have been many interesting assignments in my 38+ year career, but one that stands out was my first trip to New Orleans. I was there with a colleague, and we had to appraise all of the holdings of a shipyard that was in bankruptcy. If the company did not get financing, thousands of employees would lose their jobs. They had facilities in several locations, including small towns, so we had to take small boats and off-road vehicles to see the assets on various canals, bayous, and rivers. I soon realized that you don’t wear a suit on inspections like this in June in New Orleans! While I was out of my element, I soon figured out how to adapt to the local culture, and by the end of the trip I was sorry I had to leave.
How do you plan to spend your next several years at Cushman & Wakefield?
I want to continue building on the reputation that our team has developed over the past several years that we’re the most well-known and respected retail valuation and consulting practice in the industry. I hate to lose an assignment, and each time we do, I want it to be a learning tool to help us to continue to advance our platform. Equally as important, is mentoring and recruitment of emerging talent. I really enjoy bringing new people into the business.
When you’re not out appraising an asset or writing a report, what do you like to do?
I enjoy traveling abroad with my family and about different cultures. On a typical weekend, you’ll find me out hiking and trail riding my bike.
Eric Lewis is the President, Valuation & Advisory Americas. In this role, Eric is responsible for the overall operations of the Americas V&A group, which spans 600 professionals across 6 core services, 17 practice groups, and 70 offices. He drives the primary business objectives and activities for V&A in the Americas, including our aggressive growth and technology initiatives. In 2017, the group appraised more than 50,640 properties valued at over $1.29 trillion USD.