Schostak Brothers & Co. — a full-service real estate, development, management, leasing, and consulting company in Livonia — is working to expand its Lofts at Merchants Row development in downtown Detroit. Jeffrey Schostak, 30, recently-appointed vice president and director of corporate real estate services, is the first fourth-generation family member to enter the family business. He spoke with DBusiness Daily News about future projects, the family, and his new position.
DDN: What kind of projects are you working on?
JS: We’re under construction right now at Seven Mile and Haggerty in Northville Township for a 100,000 square foot building for the University of Michigan ambulatory care. I am responsible for continuing to source large anchor type tenants for the remaining 55 acres. We’re also expanding our Lofts of Merchants Row in downtown Detroit by adding another 42 loft units on the west side of Woodward Avenue, just north of Grand River in the central business district.
DDN: You started working for Schostak Brothers & Co. in 2010. Did you always intend to work for your family’s company?
JS: It was something I was always interested in when I was kid. I’d go to meetings with my dad (Robert Schostak), carry his briefcase, and all of the kind of stuff. And then I worked in the mailroom in middle school and interned with different affiliates of the company in high school and college. I always knew I wanted to be in real estate.
DDN: But you didn’t start with the company straight out of college?
JS: I wanted to work away first, but the company has a family policy that says if you’re going to work in the business, you need to work away for three to five years. It gives a family member time to learn from somebody else, cut their own path a little bit, build their own network, and bring some real value back to the company.
DDN: Which is why you worked at Urban Retail Properties in Chicago prior to returning to Michigan. How is working in Detroit different from your experience in Chicago?
JS: Chicago is obviously a much larger city. You have more people, more companies. But by the same token, Detroit is not a small market by any stretch. But because there’s less people, you can get yourself out there and move up quicker than you can in a bigger city like Chicago or New York. There’s real opportunity for young people in Detroit because there’s less of us.
DDN: How do you plan to approach your new position with the company?
JS: I’m very fortunate to be able to work around my dad and uncles (Robert, David, and Mark). And while my grandfather (Jerome) isn’t day-to-day anymore, I can have lunch with him and gain some of the knowledge he’s accrued over the years. I want to learn as much as I can from my family because they clearly have a good understanding and knowledge base of real estate development business, but like any industry, it’s ever changing, and you have to find new ways to do business. With the combination of trying to find some new things that haven’t been done in the past and all of the successes that the family found over the years, I think the future is bright.
DDN: What’s next for Schostak Brothers & Co.?
JS: We’re focused on expanding our real estate portfolio in a number of various sectors. This includes growing our Wal-Mart Centers up to 40-plus properties in 20 states (the company has 36 such “Shadow-Anchored” properties currently) and growing our industrial portfolio by adding modern-day warehouse distribution centers as well as flex office/industrial build-to-suit projects. We’ll also continue to integrate the fourth generation into the family business.