Senior vice president at Colliers International/Minneapolis-St. Paul
Jim Damiani, 47, was named Broker of the Year for 2012 by the Minnesota Commercial Association of Real Estate (MNCAR). It’s one of MNCAR’s highest honors. Damiani has more than 25 years of experience in commercial real estate and specializes in office leasing and sales. He has completed nearly 2,500 transactions totaling 27.5 million square feet with an estimated value of $2.68 billion. He consistently has been named Colliers International’s top office salesperson since joining the firm in 1996. His clients have included Carmichael Lynch, U.S. Bank, Opus Corp., Campbell Mithun, Ticketmaster and Supervalu.
Damiani also volunteers for the Osseo High School STRIVE program, which helps struggling high school seniors, and is a board member for the Augsburg College MBA program. He’s vice president of the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors and served on the city of New Hope’s Planning Commission. He’s also active in the Minnesota chapter of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.
Q: How did you get your start in commercial real estate?
A: When I was a senior in college, I started renovating apartment buildings for a local investor. Then I started doing the leasing as well. When I graduated, I hooked up with them and did the buying and selling of the apartment buildings. But then we bought a commercial property and I said, “This is really great, because it’s not people living there. It’s actual businesses, and I can deal with them during the day and we don’t have as many problems with the property.” ... I decided to explore this commercial thing.
Q: What was your first major office deal?
A: Opus had an office building in St. Cloud that was half empty. I told them I would go up there two days a week and canvass the market, find out what their competition was and talk to every tenant in the market. … I sat in the conference room alone and made 100 to 150 phone calls a day, knocked on doors and dropped my cards off. … Within six months, we did 10 leases and filled up the building. That was really the catalyst in my career in saying, “Here’s what I’m going to do,” and actually executing it.
Q: After thousands of deals, how do you stay motivated?
A: Every deal has its own DNA. They all have challenges and every landlord, client and building is different. It’s definitely not a cookie-cutter business.
Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.