The market and the world have changed, and become more and more global. It was time for a change for us, too.”
So said Cory Gubner, founder, president and CEO of Stamford commercial real estate firm RHYS, who sent shock waves through Fairfield County’s real estate sector when he announced that he and most of his team were joining Newmark Knight Frank in that multinational firm’s Stamford office.
As what Gubner called “one of the last large boutique commercial real estate companies in the county,” RHYS — Gubner’s middle name — “set out on a path I felt was the right thing to do at the time,” by offering a more independent, hands-on approach to real estate services, he said. “But with the consolidation that’s happening in the commercial real estate industry, I started getting calls from people who asked if I was interested in joining them.”
Declining to name those other suitors, Gubner said NKF ultimately won out by offering “the best opportunity for us, our clients, the business we’ve been doing and our growth. This offers our clients a truly global footprint — it’s a win/win for our clients and for us.”
Joining Gubner, who was named executive managing director at NKF, are RHYS Executive Vice President and Partner Christian Bangert as managing director; RHYS directors Alex Haendler and Sam Chambers and Associate Director Jon Conway, who will retain those titles at NKF, and Thomas Gardner and Amber Hinlicky, who will respectively provide financial analysis and administrative support to the team.
That represents about two-thirds of RHYS’ staff. Gubner would not discuss why the others did not join NKF as well, but said that moving en masse to a new firm was a non-negotiable aspect of any move.
“This team has been with me for a long time,” he said. Bangert was one of the founding members of RHYS in 2009 “and I was not going to separate us. I was not interested in coming over as an individual — and I would not have.”
Although the move to NKF — founded in 1929 and headquartered in New York City, with offices throughout the U.S. and around the globe — was discussed for a number of weeks, its suddenness was reflected by the fact that the RHYS website was still operational as of Dec. 10, listing Gubner and the aforementioned new NKF employees as still with RHYS. “That won’t be the case for much longer,” Gubner laughed.
Asked if any RHYS clients had balked at the fact that the Realtors they thought they’d signed on with are now part of a much bigger concern, Gubner said the opposite was the case. “The reception has been beyond excellent,” he said. “Our clients are very excited. This represents a better opportunity for them — they’ll still be getting all the expertise we offer, but on a much bigger platform and level.”
RHYS was Gubner’s third entrepreneurial venture. He spent 10 years at Pyramid Real Estate, rising to full partner in 1995, before leaving in 1998 to form Chase Commerical, which he merged with GVA Williams in 2002 and sold to FirstService Corp. in 2008. Nevertheless, he said, he had no hesitations about giving up the reins as boss to become a team member at NKF.
“We’re all still brokers serving our clients’ real estate needs,” he said. “I felt that Newmark is a very entrepreneurial-feeling company that happens to be really big. This is really a collaboration — my team and I came in as RHYS and have merged into Newmark seamlessly. And both firms are about the same thing: Client first.”