May 23, 2023
The Fortitude to Keep Moving Forward: The Story of Bob Knakal's Career in Real Estate
Life is filled with twists and turns that can sometimes surprise you and lead you into a life-defining career. Bob Knakal has been a force to be reckoned with in real estate. He has been selling investment properties in New York since 1984 and has been personally responsible for the sale of over 2,000 buildings and counting, giving him the title of highest total ever for a single broker in New York. But did you know that real estate was a job he stumbled upon?
Growing up in a small town in New Jersey, Bob was always an athlete at heart. He played baseball through little league until college and always dreamt of becoming a baseball player for the Yankees or a hockey player for the Rangers. Little did he know, his love for sports and scorecards honed his love and skill for statistics.
Dreaming of then becoming the next Gordon Gekko while he was at Wharton, he made use of his summer breaks to look for a job in banking, dropping off his resume in all banks he saw. This was a time before the internet, so when he saw Coldwell Banker, thinking it was a bank, he sent them his resume, got the job, and continued working for them as a summer intern and loved it.
On his third summer as an intern, he got his broker’s license in New Jersey and started as an assistant to an industrial broker named Tom Mallaney and got real first-hand experience in showing industrial spaces to tenants. After he graduated from Wharton, he moved to New York and continued working with Coldwell Banker where he then met Paul Massey.
In 1988, Bob and Paul formed Massey Knakal and found themselves in the midst of the savings and loan crisis in 1990. With no deals, no contracts and not having enough to get by, the fortitude to keep moving forward made them take credit cards from several banks to help them stay afloat before acquiring a loan from Paul’s step-father, Jack Holler, which then helped the company from sinking. Between 1988 and 2014, Massey Knakal closed over 6,000 transactions with a total value of $23 billion.
Bob always felt that the intent of starting a business was to create something valuable to sell one day, and so in 2014, Cushman & Wakefield acquired Massey Knakal where Bob acted as chairman of New York investment sales and ranked as the top sales broker for several years. In 2018, Bob joined JLL and is currently serving as the Senior Managing Director and Head of New York Private Group.
Ready to be inspired by an industry titan? Join me for this latest episode, where I chat with Bob Knakal about his career-defining moments and how he navigated the challenges along the way. Tune in now!