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Meet Griffin Cogorno of Unire Real Estate Group in Del Mar Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Griffin Cogorno.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve been in the commercial real estate business for more than 15 years, but I basically grew up in an industrial building. I’ve financed, developed, managed, acquired and sold more than $750 million in my career, but my current and future focus is to continue Unire Real Estate Group’s growth. In my young career, I have been blessed with two amazing role models – my dad and my father-in-law. Early on, I fell in love with industrial assets through my family’s holdings, and was lucky enough to have my father-in-law [Unire Real Estate Group founder and president, Mark Harryman] mentor me up through my early career. I started out working for The O’Donnell Group, an industrial developer in Southern California, and moved to financing industrial assets at JP Morgan Chase before eventually working here at Unire Group managing our clients and portfolio directive.

When I was a little guy, I would tag along with my dad and grandfather to manage, sweep, repair, collect rent, etc. on commercial real estate properties. I was enthralled by industrial assets and the companies that worked within them. I learned firsthand about treating our tenants, vendors and their employees with respect, no matter if it was the janitor or the director who signed the rent check. I would sweep the floor, work in a manufacturing plant during my summers and everything in between. I was always interested in the markets and how the properties functioned. I found soaking up knowledge on trends in the industry fascinating, so I decided to make this a part of my educational and professional journey. As I moved along through my career, I found learning about the industrial sector was the most interesting as I was always intrigued by the movement in goods from ports to warehouses, and of course graduating from UCSD… San Diego will always be a favorite of mine and a fascinating market as a growing industrial hub.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has definitely not always been smooth. The 2007 great recession hit me hard in my young career. I was almost 30 and my life and everyone else’s in the real estate world was turned upside down. I always say I am grateful I didn’t have a young family yet and was able to pull back on my lifestyle and re-group. I had to learn to take it back to basics. My 20s and early 30s were no cake walk, but I learned how to persevere and rely on my network. I continued to learn, adapt, remain positive and look to the future. Now, as we are growing long in the current cycle, I keep the pedal down hard because I know what it’s like when the music stops.

Unire Real Estate Group – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Unire Real Estate Group was formed to deliver a higher standard of asset services to owners and tenants of institutional-quality commercial real estate. While taking a strategic view of each client’s investment, the organization is uniquely designed to provide quality daily service. Unire Group is currently responsible for management of 215 buildings, comprising more than 45 million square feet of industrial and office properties located in Greater San Diego, and throughout the six-county Southern California region, the San Francisco Bay Area and Las Vegas. Unire Group specializes in delivering an institutional quality level of service with executive level support while remaining a boutique asset services firm. We are consistently pitching against the big 3 broker power houses and can offer a much greater level of service because of our boutique organization. Unire Group partners with clients to develop and implement comprehensive programs that achieve specific objectives, purposefully limiting assignments to those where the team’s experience directly benefits the client. Along with our existing portfolio, we have about 5 million square feet of projects in development. Last year we completed development of a 1.6 million-square-foot industrial asset and then pre-leased it to a National credit tenant. Our entire portfolio is 95% occupied.

Unire Group continues to evolve and think strategically alongside our clients, vendors and employees, which is something I’m extremely proud to be a part of. We continue to adapt to running the properties more efficiently through lighting upgrades, drought tolerant landscaping, HVAC upgrades, and sustainability measures. We work with some tremendous vendors who assist us with running our portfolio at a high level. My day-to-day role at Unire Group is bringing a fresh perspective and skillset to the old guard of industrial commercial real estate through technology, new media, e-marketing, social media and the next generation of decision makers. I’m proud to have been a part of growing Unire Group’s footprint from 28 million square feet to more than 45 million square feet in the last three years. I feel lucky to work for an amazing company with an amazing group of people. I am very proud of our successes and bright future.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I personally define success on integrity, moral compass, and the ability to perform. These three characteristics relate to a person, property or situation. My grandfather taught me the most important lesson: treat everyone you meet with respect, no matter what. This simple lesson always pays off.

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