Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With BH3 Co-Founder Greg Freedman
This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.
Greg Freedman was born to be a driver. The vehicle doesn’t matter so much — he is happy behind the wheel of a car, a motorcycle or an ATV on scenic routes and fast tracks alike. When he thinks no one is watching, he is even known to hop on forklifts at construction sites.
He is a driver in the boardroom, too, as co-founder of BH3, a national development firm. Led by Freedman, 38, and Daniel Lebensohn, the firm has grown over the past nine years to 19 employees in two locations on the East Coast, with assets from New York to South Florida. BH3's Major projects include luxury development Privé in Aventura, Florida, mixed-use developments Madison I and Madison II in New York City, and Design District in Miami, an office and retail project.
Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
Freedman: My job is never dull, as we are constantly creating, innovating and staying nimble in what we buy, design, build and own in order to create as much value as possible for our investors, partners and ourselves. And, we have a really good time doing it!
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Freedman: I would be selling something. I love the art of the sale and the thrill of the close. At the end of the day, every successful entrepreneur must be a great salesperson.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Freedman: Busboy. More than once. However, every bad job has made me more driven for success.
Bisnow: What was your first big deal?
Freedman: My first real estate deal was when I was 24 and I convinced investors to back me on a bulk condo deal in Fort Lauderdale. I had no money. In hindsight, they were nuts, as I wouldn’t give my money to a 24-year-old.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Freedman: We bought a small warehouse deal in Tamiami that, even though we didn’t lose money, it was a real drag and time suck. But from every mistake, there are lessons. Ever since then, we really look at our return on time as a metric when underwriting deals.
Bisnow: If you could change one thing about the commercial real estate industry, what would it be?
Freedman: What I would change is now occurring. The commercial real estate space is finally on the tech train, and we are seeing real disruptions and more efficiencies come to light. We even invested in a company called Gridics that has a product called Zonar that we used as an early client, and it made so much sense to us that we bought into the company.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Freedman: Ego and entitlement. Neither make you money, and both make you an a**hole.
Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?
Freedman: I have been blessed to have many amazing people in my life that I respect, look up to and seek guidance from. I got my charisma from my dad, my entrepreneurial spirit from my mom, my work ethic from my stepmom and my skill sets from absorbing and learning from many others wiser than me.
Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you've ever gotten?
Freedman: Best three:
Think “long-term greedy” in everything you do and everyone that you interact with. Anyone that approaches business or relationships otherwise is destined for failure and loneliness.
Always be the “mensch,” which means you always do the right thing no matter what, even if it means you need to eat a s*** sandwich every now and then.
Be interested, not interesting. If you aren’t listening and asking questions, you aren’t learning or earning people’s trust.
Worst: During the onset of the recession, someone told me, “Maybe you should just throw in the towel.” I’m glad I didn’t take their advice.
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Freedman: Traveling with my wife and/or kids. There is no better way to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
Freedman: For a culinary whirlwind: Pujol in Mexico City. For my last meal: Katz’s Deli in Lower East Side NYC
Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?
Freedman: I try to stay out of politics as much as possible. However, see my response on pet peeves.
Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Freedman: We are in the business of assessing, quantifying and taking risks every day. However, the biggest risk I have taken was starting my own business when I was 25.
Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit in your hometown?
Freedman: Tom Jenkins BBQ in Fort Lauderdale or Las Vacas Gordas in Miami Beach.
Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?
Freedman: My team and I are supporters of and involved in several organizations, both religious and non-religious, with an emphasis on: (a) education, mentoring and/or housing for at-risk or underprivileged children; (b) providing once-in-a-lifetime experiences for children diagnosed with debilitating diseases; and (c) advancements in medicine and science.