Meet Meridian Capital's "Biggest Little Office in the US"
Although they're only six people, they're incredibly capable of handling any situation, and have closed more than $1.5B over the last 24 months across 100-plus loans spanning a wide array of loan types, lenders (CMBS, agency, life companies, banks and bridge) and properties (multifamily, hotels, retail, office and other esoteric properties). Bisnow got the lowdown on Meridian's West Coast crew.
To learn more about this Bisnow partner, click here.
Seth Grossman, Managing Director
Where were you born? Evanston, IL
Where is your hometown? Carlsbad, CA (after 10 years in NYC and a few years in Kansas City)
How long have you been at Meridian, and what brought you to work there? What is your specialty at Meridian? This is my second "career" at Meridian: I began in March 2005 after my close friend/boss at the time introduced me to a senior executive at Meridian. I worked in the New York office until the end of 2008, when the market turned. I then moved to Kansas City and, until 2011, had an unrelated business. When that ran its course, I called Meridian’s founders in NY, told them I was moving to San Diego and wanted to get back into the commercial mortgage business. Within days we were working together to open the new office. My role is to run and grow our office and team, and to expand Meridian’s footprint. May 2011 started in an executive suite with no existing clients. Today we have a team of six that in the last 24 months has closed over 100 loans totaling $1.5B.
What about the industry has you most optimistic as we close out 2015 and head into 2016? Everything, I’m an optimist. In a bull market as we are in now, deal flow is robust as clients continually expand and capital is flush. In a slowdown, the opportunity for good brokers to differentiate and add value is greatest. Whatever the scenario, there is business to earn. I’m also very excited as the team we have put together here is starting to hit its stride and 2016 should be a year we run at an even faster pace.
What do you do for fun? My first choice is spending time with my wife, our two little children, 1 and 3 years old, and our dog Bubba. We all love hanging in our neighborhood with friends and family. Otherwise, when my in-laws offer to take the children, we do whatever we can to get away for weekend trips. Skiing is my first choice, followed closely by No Cal wine country.
What's the one piece of technology you absolutely can't live without? Bose earbuds—so much so that I always travel with two pairs on me in case I lose or break the first. I’m often on the phone for what feels like every minute of the day and before comfortable earphones that meant I was always a hand down…I can now go hands-free all day and continue getting things done that otherwise would be very difficult (emails, driving, note-taking, running through airports, etc.)
Who is your ideal client? I have many that I consider ideal, all with very different traits, goals, specialties, etc. The common thread has little to do with deal or institution type and is cut by people that I have developed strong relationships with that go beyond closing loans and talking interest rates. When working with/for friends, it becomes much more personal.
Click here to contact Seth.
Sarah Kuebler, Vice President
Where is your hometown? Encinitas, CA
How long have you been at Meridian, and what brought you to work there? What is your specialty at Meridian? I’ve been at Meridian for four years, and was drawn to Meridian because of its wide range of expertise, and strong reputable presence in the industry.
What about the industry has you most optimistic as we close out 2015 and head into 2016? I’m optimistic for 2016 because even though the market has improved drastically over the last several years, I think there’s still room for growth with untapped potential on the rise.
What do you do for fun? I love spending time with family and friends, anything ocean related, traveling and good live music.
What's the one piece of technology you absolutely can't live without? My DSLR.
Who is your ideal client? Someone who is open-minded and can think outside the box when needed, yet is still realistic with immediate and long-term expectations.
Click here to contact Sarah.
Andy Strauss, Underwriter
Where were you born? Highland Park, IL
Where is your hometown? Carlsbad, CA
How long have you been at Meridian, and what brought you to work there? What is your specialty at Meridian? I started January 2013, after coming from a residential online mortgage company and making a jump to underwriting and analysis of commercial mortgages.
What about the industry has you most optimistic as we close out 2015 and head into 2016? There's a lot of new buildings coming on line in 2016.
What do you do for fun? I go to the beach, play basketball and spend time with my wife, son and two dogs.
What's the one piece of technology you absolutely can't live without? Pandora.
Who is your ideal client? All types, I really have no preference.
Click here to contact Andy.
Kovi Elkus, Vice President—Loan Origination
Where is your hometown? Melbourne, Australia
How long have you been at Meridian, and what brought you to work there? What is your specialty at Meridian? I began working at Meridian in 2010. Prior to that, I was working at REIS where I gained a macro and micro understanding of the various trends in the real estate markets throughout the country. However, I wanted to gain an understanding from the financing perspective. So, I wanted to join the most active company and one that had a large footprint that would provide me exposure to the entire country.
What about the industry has you most optimistic as we close out 2015 and head into 2016? Speaking with my clients that are projecting multiple acquisitions and dispositions next year. This combined with speaking with other experts in the industry would seem to indicate that 2016 will continue along the 2015 trend and trajectory and be a very active year.
What do you do for fun? I play racquetball multiple times a week. I coach my son’s soccer team (we are 4-0). I love going cycling with my wife and kids and going to the beach with them.
What's the one piece of technology you absolutely can't live without? As a diabetic, my one piece of tech that I couldn’t live without would have to be my continuous glucose monitor.
Who is your ideal client? I have two: 1) the easy going and efficient type and 2) the type that does the interesting projects and makes me be more creative in finding the right lender and procure the ideal terms.
Click here to contact Kovi.
Ryan Gandell, Associate—Loan Origination
Where is your hometown? Rochester, NY
How long have you been at Meridian, and what brought you to work there? What is your specialty at Meridian? Three and a half years ago, I sat with Seth Grossman. His drive and vision for Meridian’s West Coast team inspired me to break into this industry and help grow Meridian’s footprint. I work on building and securing long-lasting relationships with prestigious clientele.
What about the industry has you most optimistic as we close out 2015 and head into 2016? I have been happy to see many of our clients continuing and even becoming more aggressive on the acquisition front as we approach 2016.
What do you do for fun? I love to take adventures around the globe! I travel for scuba/free diving, snowboard, eat new foods and enjoy different cultures. While in San Diego, I spend much of my time in the La Jolla ecological reserve. At home, you’ll find me in the garden or tinkering with my old BMW motorcycle.
What's the one piece of technology you absolutely can't live without? My refrigerator. I love to cook and I’ll make enough for lunch the next day (unless its fish, because no one wants to smell fish at the office.)
Who is your ideal client? A smart investor or institution who is bettering neighborhoods and communities with their developments and/or management.
Click here to contact Ryan.
Blake Carver, Associate—Loan Origination
Where were you born? Toronto, Canada (on a business trip)
Where is your hometown? Wellesley, MA
How long have you been at Meridian, and what brought you to work there? What is your specialty at Meridian? I’ve been at Meridian three years. I began in our New York headquarters until April 2015, then made the move to the West Coast to help originate business and join the team out here. The most significant factor in choosing Meridian was access to the smartest and most creative deal guys in our industry. A variety of mentors within the company have afforded me a breadth of knowledge and experience that is tough to find elsewhere. My specialty is creativity when it comes to originating business. I pride myself on my ability to listen to my clients, discern their priorities and find creative solutions to challenging problems.
What about the industry has you most optimistic as we close out 2015 and head into 2016? Generally speaking, there is a tremendous amount of capital surrounding both debt and equity that I think will be difficult to sustain at the existing pace over a very long timeline. For the time being, those sources, especially non-bank lenders, are allowing for the absorption of deals that would otherwise be too hairy for traditional capital sources. Being in a position to place that capital and add value for clients is very exciting and a great opportunity.
What do you do for fun? On the weekends you can find me off-roading in my Jeep, sailing at the Mission Bay Sportcenter, pretending I can surf, painting, or watching Tom Brady win at the BarKey in North PB.
What's the one piece of technology you absolutely can't live without? VHS player.
Who is your ideal client? Emerging leaders. I like to contribute to the growth of a company and help them bridge the gap between local owners and institutional-quality investors. I’m also an architecture nut and it’s always exciting to work on projects that combine aesthetics with innovative functionality.
Click here to contact Blake.