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My Story: Bob Mathews

WASHINGTON DC 04.18.2017

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My Story: Bob Mathews

Colliers' Bob Mathews didn't start out in commercial real estate. But when an employer in a former  systems management career asked him to move from Atlanta, Bob didn't want to budge. (The thought of not being able to get a burger at Vortex was just too much to bear.)

bob mathews
After graduating University of North Georgia (then called North Georgia College), Bob served six years in the US Army, during which he earned a Masters degree in the evening from the University of Southern California in systems management . His first job was in sales with Lendman Associates, an executive recruiter in NYC. In 1983, he was transferred here but was promptly asked to move elsewhere—that's when he said enough is enough.
bmathews-1980s
That led him to Dick Bryant. Now with Lee & Associates, Dick was with the storied firm Portman Barry. "Real estate interested me," Bob says. "The concept of consultative selling was part of what I did in the recruiting business." He worked under Hugh Pafford and did a string of office deals for mortgage companies during his first at-bats.
willbob
Bobo with his son Will, also a Colliers broker. By 1991, a real estate career was firmly cemented. He and some Portman Barry peers (Fred Sheets, Bob Ward, Russ Jobson, Mike Spears,  and  Bill Buist) joined what was then Cauble & Co; the firm eventually transformed into Colliers International and all six are still there.  Bob was known as one of the few brokerage leaders who still  dirtied his hands in deals on a daily basis. That, surprisingly, is no more. "I was a  player coach," he says. (Like Pete Rose, without being crazy.) But as the firm grew, he needed to focus on the company full-time. So for the past year, Bob's been handling company-wide business development, strategy and day-to-day leadership.
bob's garden
Just because Bob isn't working on deals doesn't mean he can't dirty his hands: He's quite the avid gardener; his terraced backyard—with garden rooms and a fish pond—is a horticultural dream and   the product of 30 years of work. "That's the way I cool down, zone out, and relax," he says. One of the great things about a garden, he says, is that it's unlike a business. In real estate, he works all day and has to wonder what he accomplished because the progress in the biz is always incremental. "But when you work in a garden, whatever you're doing at the end of the day, you turn around and look at it, you see  exactly what you accomplished. That sort of immediate feedback nurses me."