That Year Off for a Noncompete Clause Isn't As Fun as It Sounds, Brokerage President Says
The first half of brokerage executive Greg Schementi's year between jobs was filled with activities and ways to re-energize: He spent time with his son, who was about to leave home for college, traveled, cooked healthy meals for his wife and himself and even took a ton of yoga classes. Then the fun was replaced by something else.
The fear of missing out, or FOMO, during one of the most dynamic times in commercial real estate history hit him hard. Schementi had been forced to take the year off because of a noncompete clause, common for executives in many industries, that took effect when he left Cushman & Wakefield to be president of rival brokerage Cresa. He had a lot to miss: At Cushman & Wakefield, he was leading tenant representation for all the Americas in July 2021.
But he had even more to look forward to as president of a firm that represents occupiers of office and industrial space, with clients depending on the firm's brokers and advisers to help figure out when and how often to bring employees back to offices, Schementi said. He started at Cresa on July 11, while Tom Birnbach, who was interim president, remains Cresa's vice chairman.
So while a year off might sound relaxing, Schementi started to get antsy.
"I would say in looking back on it, the first six months were just a joy. It was a good way to recharge, connect with family and friends," Schementi said in an interview. "But the last six months was longer, I think, than I expected."
While at home, he endeavored to establish some structure to his days in between jobs. That included working each week to perfect his own Italian red sauce that he would let simmer all day to get just right.
All the while, Schementi kept up with what was happening in the commercial real estate industry and at important companies during a time of great disruption caused by the pandemic.
"Things were just changing so much. If you recall going back to the summer last year, COVID was not done, but the fall and the winter just created an entire new dynamic in the world, the economy and then also specific to both office and industrial properties," he said. "So it seemed like a lot was happening, and I couldn't help. So that was not just trying to figure out a way to spend full days, full productive days, but there was just so much going on in the last six months that I wanted to get back into it."
Raring to Get Back
Overall, the gap year was a good experience, he said. However, toward the end of the time, he was raring to get back and spent the final couple of months of the break "thinking about ramping up here at Cresa."
As president, Schementi's day-to-day job is to oversee more than 50 Cresa offices across North America and help its brokers succeed. He's also helping to oversee Cresa's move to its new headquarters at 167 N. Green St. in Chicago's Fulton Market neighborhood. The work, Schementi said, complements what's done by CEO Tod Lickerman, whom Schementi worked with at DTZ and Cushman & Wakefield.
"It's also growing markets where they need to increase scale," Schementi said. "You do that organically by making everyone more effective in what they do, but also recruiting. So it's optimizing what we have, increasing scale where needed either in a market or in a service line and then essentially day to day operations, which includes oversight of marketing, tech and operations, field operations."
Cresa also is seeking to grow via acquisition if the fit is right, Schementi said. In May, Cresa closed on its acquisition of Esrp, a Frisco, Texas-based tenant representation firm with offices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Houston. Cresa's acquisition added 50 Esrp brokers to its operation and instantly expanded the brokerage's presence in Texas.