When Glen Weiss first walked into 11 Penn Plaza as a porter he had no idea he was starting his career. His dad was a property manager for a client of the Mendik Company, who operated the building and sought help in the summers to give vacation time to their regular porters and engineers. To the 16-year-old aspiring sportscaster this was simply a way to make money. Mr. Weiss commuted from Old Bridge, N.J., by bus with his dad, leaving around 6 a.m. “It was always in the dark,” he laughed. That was 1986. And much is still the same.
Mr. Weiss still leaves his home in the dark, though he now lives in Livingston, N.J., with his wife and their three daughters, and his transportation is his car. And he still works for the same company, so to speak. Vornado Realty Trust, where Mr. Weiss is executive vice president—director of leasing, acquired Mendik in 1997. At the time, Mr. Weiss was working in property management and attending Pace University at night to achieve an M.B.A. in finance. “I was lucky enough to be promoted to leasing the next year,” he said.
Mr. Weiss has a B.A. in communications from the University of Delaware. There he was sports director of the school radio station, and had a weekly play-by-play show. His first full-time position with Mendik, after graduating, was in the payroll and benefits department. And it was a game changer.
“I really got immersed in real estate,” he said, referencing the people and the building mechanics. Learning how a building works helps with leasing. It’s a lesson Mr. Weiss imparts on all younger, newer staff.
“When tenants see you understand buildings they feel comfortable coming in to the properties,” Mr. Weiss said. That means getting to know the day-to-day operations including air conditioning, utilities, elevators, security and improvements.
He let his sportscasting dream go but remains a fan of the Blue Hens, and sports overall. Every year Mr. Weiss attends a big college game with friends and his brother—Big Ten big. Surely that’s part of what keeps him youthful enough to win the Real Estate Board of The Young Man/Woman of the Year Award (though the 45-year-old received more than one email both congratulating and chiding him, the latter because he’s not that young).
Mr. Weiss said he’s honored by the award, attributing it to both the platform Vornado has afforded him, and his role as chairman of the Young Men’s/Women’s Real Estate Association, which has allowed him to get involved with non-profits like New York Cares and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“This year was a big year for the company, in leasing velocity and new deals,” he said. He noted Facebook and Neuberger Berman as highlights. His experience match-matching tenants with buildings and a team of eight helped put Amazon into 7 West 34th Street in about three months. Fast.
“The economics of the deal were one thing, but we literally needed to know how the building worked to make it happen,” Mr. Weiss said. That meant taking all of his skills and seeing them come together to consider everything from HVAC to back-up generators to freight elevators.
Business needs are evolving constantly, he said, citing new types of tenants like TAMI companies—technology, advertising, media and information technology. “We need to show these tenants we can make it happen, figure out their requests and crazy demands.” Crazy meaning things the standard 9-to-5 operations don’t seek. Deliveries at odd times require shifting of porters, security and engineering. A great number of employees require wide stairs, many bathrooms and additional air conditioning. And then there’s the desire for outdoor space, and the bringing in of dogs. “You have to rethink everything,” Mr. Weiss said. “You really have to bob and weave.”
That’s a boxing reference, of course. You can take the man out of sports but you can’t fully take sports out of the man.