The Peacock Slayer
When Country-Wide Insurance Company chose to renew its lease in Lower Manhattan last month, the move was shepherded by a close ally.
The lengthy search, which steered the insurance behemoth to Brooklyn and other exotic locales before ending right where it started, was the culmination of a 20-year relationship with Mark Weiss, vice chairman of Newmark Knight Frank.
The alliance first bloomed in 1990, at the behest of Mr. Weiss’ wife, an executive recruiter who had placed half a dozen employees in Country-Wide’s New York City headquarters. Since then, the real estate veteran has brokered six deals for the firm, including the latest, a 109,000-square-foot lease at Donald Trump’s 40 Wall Street.
“Surprisingly, I had trouble getting through once his assistant found out I worked at a real estate company,” said Mr. Weiss, 47, of his earliest overtures to Country-Wide’s chairman, Michael Jaffe. “But once we spoke and connected, we developed a really good working relationship, a trust relationship—a friendship.”
In an era typified by seal-and-run brokers who vanish once a deal closes, Mr. Weiss has fully embraced his coterie of long-term clients, even going so far as to frame his earliest correspondences with Country-Wide, including one letter he sent to Mr. Jaffe in 1990 that begins, “Given your history of returning my calls …”
“I’ve worked very hard at those relationships, and I’ve been pretty fortunate to have represented some really good companies and some very nice people,” said Mr. Weiss, who lists Corning Incorporated among his long-term clients. “It’s easy to continue to do business with people that you like.”
The willingness to nurture such relationships may be one reason why, over the course of 26 years, Mr. Weiss has successfully brokered a surprisingly diverse scorecard of more than 700 transactions, including recent deals on behalf of Advent Software and Washington, D.C.–based law firm Patton Boggs, which in July doubled the size of its New York offices to 60,000 square feet.
Along the way, Mr. Weiss has reeled in the coveted Real Estate Board of New York’s “Ingenious Deal of the Year” award and joined a slew of charities, including the Joint Passover Association and the Achilles Track Club, which helps runners with disabilities race in marathons.