Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Breather Chief Real Estate Officer Dan Suozzi
This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.
In his new position as chief real estate officer, Dan Suozzi leads real estate for a company that has been catapulted into quite the transition by its customers.
Though flexible-office company Breather began in 2012 by renting out conference space by the hour or day, customers kept wanting the option to stay longer. In response, Breather started 2019 by offering monthly leases, and by year's end it had seen over 50% of its growth from the new product. Now, Breather and Suozzi, the company's most recent big hire, aren't looking back.
"The goal for 2020 is to take what was a very successful year for flexible leasing in our portfolio and solely focus on the growth and expansion of that business," he said.
Suozzi began his career as a broker representing tenants in New York, first for The Staubach Co. and then for JLL, before joining The Regus Group and handling its East Coast portfolio as its director of real estate.
At Breather, he joins a cadre of other recent additions to the company's C-suite, including CEO Bryan Murphy, that is betting on the continued growth of its new product and flexible-office leasing in general.
"The entire executive team has been redefined and turned over really with the main overarching theme of getting to profitability as soon as possible and expanding a new business line which has been extremely fruitful in 2019," Suozzi said.
Bisnow: What is your favorite part of your job?
Suozzi: I thoroughly enjoy building out strategic plans and processes to ensure a seamless process that aligns with the business' financial goals. I also love to negotiate, so I will often get into the weeds on deals with landlords.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Suozzi: I was a landscaper in high school. I thrive when I'm able to use my mind and interact with people on a daily basis. Cutting grass required zero thought process and was a job that required no interaction with others.
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Suozzi: I have always had an interest in the VC space. I think I would have enjoyed dissecting ideas in the CRE space and think I would make a good thought partner for companies I would have invested in.
Bisnow: What deal are you proudest of?
Suozzi: While at Regus I spearheaded Regus' first Manhattan "Spaces" (Regus' upscale modern brand) deal at 230 Park Ave. It was a very large and complex deal which has been very successful to date.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Suozzi: I can't think of a specific "deal" that was a failure. I can think of instances in my career that I feel like I failed. Mostly when I was a broker and was certain I was going to get hired by a company and it didn't happen. I became hard on myself that I was too confident and maybe didn't do everything possible in my power to get the business.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Suozzi: Tardiness. My football coach in college taught me very early on that showing up late for anything made it clear that it was not important enough for that individual to be there on time and a direct insult to the person or people who you let sit awaiting your arrival. With that said, I live by the motto of, "to be early is to be on-time, to be on-time is to be late and to be late is to be forgotten."
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Suozzi: Golf. To me, it's the only sport that you can be competitive and relaxed at the same time while enjoying the outdoors and spectacular architecture. I think my wife would say I spend a little too much time on the golf course and spend way too much money doing it.
Bisnow: What motivates you?
Suozzi: I am motivated by my professional reputation. Maintaining a reputation of someone that people enjoy working with while also hoping they have confidence in me to execute at a high level is what motivates me on a daily basis.
Bisnow: What advice do you wish you got when you started in CRE?
Suozzi: It's a marathon, not a sprint. While this holds true for most industries, I remember early on as a broker and I was focused on getting deals done and not the big picture of all the ways one can positively impact their careers outside of executing a transaction.
Bisnow: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Suozzi: I would have to stay making the jump from brokerage to director of real estate at Regus. It was a complete shift in mentality and reality from being an individual producer to a cog in the wheel. I happened to have a great boss in Michael Berretta and without that risk, I would not have been well-positioned to take on this role at Breather.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Suozzi: My kids. Aside from that, thinking about the endless amount of opportunity ahead of us and trying to constantly come up with new and innovative ways to positively impact the company. Some of my best thinking is done when I cannot sleep!
Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?
Suozzi: Nantucket. After going there for 25 years at various stages of my life, I find myself more in love with the island now with two young kids than ever. There are endless things to do and special places all over the island for people of any age. The natural beauty of the island is truly remarkable.
Bisnow: Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?
Suozzi: My family and golf. I'm excited for the day when I can combine both! My kids are too young and my wife is too busy with her career as a skin cancer surgeon. I'm targeting 2025 as the year when my two favorite things become one, although it could be wishful thinking.
Bisnow: What CRE trend do you think will have the most impact over the next few years?
Suozzi: I believe flexible leasing is the future. Large companies want to diversify their portfolios and not have long-term commitments that are capital intensive. Small companies that are unsure of what growth looks [like] want flexibility and also do not have the appetite for large CapEx spend when executing a transaction.
Bisnow: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Suozzi: I try to make at least one person I interact with smile or laugh on a daily basis. It could be my boss, my 2-year-old daughter or anyone in between.
Bisnow: What do you want your legacy to be?
Suozzi: I would like to look back on my life and career hoping others would say that I had impacted the lives of colleagues, peers, family and friends in some positive way.