What I Know Now: Rand Sperry, CEO of Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates
In this month’s “What I Know Now” (WIKN) Q & A, we feature Rand Sperry, CEO of Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates. Rand brings with him more than 40 years of experience and has been a highly recognized and influential leader within the Southern California and national commercial real estate industry. Additionally, Rand Sperry is an owner of Sperry Commercial, Inc. and Sperry Equities, LLC, a real estate investment and property management organization and continues to grow these companies with partners Burton Young and Jack Carroll. To date, these companies and their affiliates have acquired more than 65 commercial, industrial, and office properties, exceeding $1 Billion in value with over 11 million square feet under management and 7 million square feet owned.
We’re excited to feature WIKN with Rand Sperry. Enjoy!
Q: What was the biggest risk you’ve taken that has paid off?
A: That one is easy; forming Sperry Van Ness in 1987. That was certainly the biggest risk I had taken! Within 60 days of forming the firm, our monthly overhead was over $30,000, a lot of money 31 years ago. Within four years we had four offices with overhead close to $150,000 a month, but success was now in our hands. The company grew to become one of the top 10 largest commercial real estate companies in the United States. I am no longer affiliated with Sperry Van Ness or SVN, or any of its affiliates. However, as a result of taking that brave step in 1987, I have terrific partners both in Sperry Equities, Sperry Commercial and Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates, all successful companies. It has been a terrific ride and I couldn’t be happier
Q: What is the best advice that you’ve ever taken and the best advice you’ve ever given?
A: Well, the best advice I was ever given was from my dad, who told me I had two choices: I could either become a corporate attorney or a commercial real estate broker. Obviously, I took the second option, and of course, the success of Sperry Commercial and Sperry Equities has been extremely beneficial for me. My dad did make one other very important comment to me; he told me to invest in commercial properties that would ultimately give me cash flow so that I would never have to depend on anyone else for my income. He said passive income is the key to a secure and successful path in business. So today there is Sperry Commercial and Sperry Equities, two successful businesses that not only have created a good lifestyle for me and my family but for hundreds and perhaps thousands of others who have worked for or invested in our Sperry Equities properties. The best advice I’ve ever given? Be the best in whatever career path you enter, be passionate, be hardworking, be honest, be the most knowledgeable, and be the most persistent. Never take NO for an answer and just remember that every NO gets you closer to a YES.
Q: What are you proudest of accomplishing?
A: This may sound like cliché, but marrying my wife Rosemary, and the two of us having and raising six children that we are so proud of and who have done so well, is truly our best accomplishment. Thanks to my career in real estate, we were able to find the time and money to travel to 55-plus countries and could afford to educate our kids at excellent schools and give them great opportunities to become entrepreneurs in their own right. We have six grandchildren now, with a projected 10 more. (I did an Argus run to come up with that number.)
Q: What’s your most memorable deal and why?
A: For the past seven years, I’ve been involved in the acquisition of the Christ Cathedral here in Orange County. I was part of the small acquisition team that negotiated and purchased the property from Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral Ministries for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. I currently chair the LLC that owns this magnificent property, and we are in the process of renovating the interior of the cathedral with a $70 million rehabilitation, which will be completed in July 2019. It will be the final step in the restoration of all six buildings on the campus, which will be open for all people no matter of religious preference to visit and enjoy for decades to come. It is the fourth largest tourist attraction in Orange County.
Q: What lessons from your parents have you carried through the years?
A: Be honest with yourself, be honest with others, everything in moderation, have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff. Love yourself first, for without that you cannot love others. Your life on earth is short; make the most of it.
Q: What have you learned that you would want to pass on to an aspiring broker who is new to the industry?
A: The most significant lesson is to take a chance on yourself. I have seen so many talented people in all walks of life that had such a fear of failure that they would not take a chance on themselves. I will be the first to admit that stepping out and taking that chance is one of the scariest experiences you will ever have. I recall when I left my first commercial real estate company, where I had been for 10 years and was the number-two person below the owner. When I stepped out on my own, it scared me half to death. At that time I already had four small children and I had just turned 33 years old—scared doesn’t begin to explain how I felt. But I believed in myself, and I knew I had to look forward and never back, and I knew I had to work as hard as I’ve ever worked in my life and believe in what I was about to embark on and create in terms of a company. But it was scary. When I look at other successful people, not just in real estate but other career types like musicians, actors, chemists, inventors, dot-comers, etc.—they all took a chance on themselves and they all knew in their own mind that failure was not an option. But, remember, everyone I know who has been successful has failed at least once before they succeeded; failure is part of success. Look at Babe Ruth; He struck out more times than he hit the ball. The season he hit the most home runs of his career, he also was the number-one strikeout player in the league.