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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Weitzman Executive Chairman Herb Weitzman

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.

Herb Weitzman never wanted to do anything else but be in the real estate industry.  

He remembers when he was about 5 years old tagging along with his father to collect rent from the family's small rental properties in Dallas. Confused, he asked his father why people were handing him money. 

Weitzman founder Herb Weitzman and his wife, Donna, in Gibraltar in early October.

Weitzman's father explained that he owned the property, and the rent served as free and clear income to help supplement the family's income. Part of the money would go to pay for Weitzman’s college education, his father said. 

“It was making an investment in the front end and allowing the tenants to pay it off,” Weitzman said. 

Looking back over his nearly 60 years in the real estate business, Weitzman founder and executive chairman knows it was those experiences that first ignited his curiosity for the industry. Today, Weitzman ranks as the largest retail real estate brokerage firm in Texas. 

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?

Weitzman: I never really see it as work. Our company works as a team to help people establish and grow their businesses.

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

Weitzman: I’ve never wanted to do anything else.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Weitzman: I sold Spudnuts door to door when I was 12 years old. Spudnuts are a brand of doughnuts.

Bisnow: What was your first big deal? 

Weitzman: Back in the 1960s, I worked on the sale of the 190K SF FedMart discount store at Marsh Lane and Forest Lane in North Dallas. The interesting thing is that, 15 years later, FedMart closed up and sold our company the shopping center.

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

Weitzman: We mentor a lot of young people starting out in our business, and I consider it a failure when I can’t motivate a young person to grow in our profession.

Bisnow: If you could change one thing about the commercial real estate industry, what would it be?

Weitzman: The industry is always changing because it’s connected to so many aspects of our economy. But we’re an industry that learns from down cycles, so we create our own change.

Weitzman founder Herb Weitzman with his daughters, Michelle Caplan and Esther Meyers.

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Weitzman: When I know that someone has incredible potential, but they don’t want to do the work to live up to it.

Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?

Weitzman: Henry S. Miller Jr., who gave me the opportunity to grow and to build a team, based on nothing more than his belief that I could do it.

Bisnow: What’s the worst and best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Weitzman: The worst advice was from someone who told me not to buy the first property I ever bought.

The best advice was my dad’s example of how real estate works as an investment, as an income generator and as a way to help people create passive income.

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Weitzman: Buying real estate. I can buy real estate easier than I buy a suit of clothes.

Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

Weitzman: That’s a hard one, and I can’t pick just one. Restaurants aren’t just about the food, they’re about the experience you had there and the friends or family you were with.

Weitzman CEO Marshall Mills and founder Herb Weitzman

Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say? 

Weitzman: I’d remind him that right now, our country needs him to be an uniter, not a divider.

Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Weitzman: Getting into the development business.

Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit in your hometown?

Weitzman: I love going to the [Southern Methodist University] campus for the Tate Lecture Series.

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Weitzman: Everything!

Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?

Weitzman: Helping at-risk kids and people dealing with cancer.

CORRECTION, MAY 28, 12:45 P.M. CT: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Herb Weitzman's title. He is the executive chairman of Weitzman.