As part of our series, CRE Future Leaders, we caught up with Zack Hilgendorf, vice president at Quantum Real Estate Advisors, Inc. With extensive experience handling the acquisition and disposition of single-tenant and multi-tenant properties throughout the U.S., Hilgendorf’s skill set and in-depth knowledge of the nuances of net-lease transactions have proven to be a valuable resource for his clients. He has been involved in the acquisition and disposition of over $100,000,000 of real estate in his young career.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I grew up in Northbrook, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago. One consistent passion of mine throughout my childhood years was sports. I was a three-sport athlete throughout my school years with a primary focus on football, where I was named the starting quarterback my junior and senior year. I had an incredible four years studying business and communications at the University of Kansas for undergrad. Upon graduation, I started my first career in commercial real estate.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
Like all kids growing up playing sports, my dream was to be professional athlete. As I grew up, I understood that was out of the question and I soon discovered the deep intricacies in the commercial real estate arena. Fortunately for me, I had friends and family in the industry to start learning the aspects that spoke to me.
How did you get your start in the industry?
My first job in the industry was while I was completing my degree in Kansas. I worked for a property management company, where I had the responsibility of leasing and management over 300 residential apartments. Upon graduation, I immediately headed to Chicago, where I started my career in investment sales.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
Chad Firsel, who is not only the founder and president, but also my managing partner and true mentor. Being a part of Quantum Real Estate Advisors, working with Chad has played the most significant role in my success as of today. I would not be where I am without his expertise, coaching and knowledge.
What does a day in the life of Zack Hilgendorf look like?
No days are ever the same in this business, which is one of the things that attracted me most to this industry. However, I try to maintain a life balance. In an effort to do this, I have a few daily rituals that I feel are crucial to my success. Get in early, leave late. I try to be the first in and last to leave—my goal is to average 60 hours a week in the office.
1. Block off 2 hours everyday for pure cold calling. I put my phone and email on DND “Do not Disturb” and try to make 50 new calls a day.
2. Workout during lunch. This industry can get very stressful and I find breaking up the day with a workout is essential to reliving some of that stress.
3. Find some gratitude throughout my day. I am living a life I love, I have so much to be grateful for.
What do you like most about your job?
The freedom of being my own boss and controlling my success. This job is like no other—it gives everyone a fair shot of success, regardless of your age, race or gender. An investment sales broker works off of their own individual business plan, something I review and update every nine months. I include in my strategic planning time for myself to work out of the office. This means I have the freedom to take trips, see a Cubs game during the day or play golf on a Friday.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
My goals for my future are the same as they have always been throughout my life: to continue to grow and achieve new milestones. Investment sales brokerage allows me to learn from new transactions and various experts and partners every single day. I believe there is something to learn from everything and everyone in life. I will always try harder and want to push myself to new heights.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
When I am not in the office, my favorite thing to do is travel. I love going on trips with my friends; it’s important to go to new places, to exit the city for a few days and to laugh and enjoy the moment with my circle of friends and family.
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
Hard to say. I went on a month-long trip with a couple of my buddies where we visited 20 countries in 32 days. I think my favorite place I have been is either Buenos Aires, Argentina or Mykonos, Greece. I hope to make it to Africa next.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
My entire Quantum family.