The commercial real estate industry is notoriously challenging, but that is exactly what attracted Alex Russo to becoming a Commercial Real Estate Broker. Growing up in Shaker Heights, Alex learned early on about the value of a strong work ethic; His father, Tony Russo, was a successful automobile salesman, who spoke often about how important it is to work hard for the things you want in life. At age 16, Alex started his own swimming pool cleaning business where he realized his passion for entrepreneurism and where he encountered his first brush with real estate.
“The majority of my pool cleaning customers were successful owners or developers in real estate, and my dad often encouraged me to get into the industry because of the lucrativeness and independence that comes with the career.”
After graduating from John Carroll University with a degree in Business and Marketing, Alex decided to pursue his license so he could build a book of a business during the swimming pool’s off-season. Over the next 15 years, Alex successfully grew both businesses before deciding to move full-time into commercial real estate. He joined a local firm where he fully immersed himself into the industry; joining mentoring programs, receiving his SIOR designation and joining several real estate boards – including NAIOP where Alex served as board President for several years.
“I decided that if I’m going to be in the industry, I have to get into the industry. It’s the only way you can meet and understand all the different groups, businesses and people in the community; you have to put yourself out there and become fully active. You have to do the work.”
In 2013, Alex joined the Cushman & Wakefield | CRESCO team because of the firm’s long-standing reputation as not only a collaborative group, but also having an unparalleled bullpen of informed, experienced brokers. He’s spent the last several years helping the firm grow and expand the office group of specialists where Alex brings his own depth of knowledge in both real estate and business ownership to help advise his clients.
“I consider myself a business consultant who happens to work in real estate. I help every client to first assemble a team – presidents, boards, accountants, attorneys – all the decision makers. I want everyone to come to the table as early as possible because real estate affects every single aspect of a business.”
Of all the transactions and clients Alex has worked with over the years, he’s most proud of his work with the Council For Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland (CEOGC), a large nonprofit that operates the largest Community Action Agency and the largest Head Start early childhood education program in Ohio. Alex has worked with the CEOGC for many years, helping them find their new headquarters as well as new locations for new daycares and outreach programs.
Ultimately, it’s the thrill of the chase that keeps Alex fully engaged in the industry after so many years.
“It takes a certain kind of person with drive and ambition to continue to do this every day, because I never stop. It’s all about helping people and staying hungry. I love that while there’s no expectations, there’s also no limit.”
If there was one piece of advice Alex could offer anyone considering a career in commercial real estate? Learn.
“You need to learn everything you can in this industry. It’s easy to be successful when the market is strong. But when the market is down, that’s when your clients are going to need you more, and they’re going to need people who are experienced to help them out of their situation. You will have to really know how to dig them out of whatever hole they’re in – give them everything you can. That’s when it matters the most.”
While he may not enjoy a lot of downtime, he does prioritize time with his close-knit family. Residing in Beachwood with his love of 20 plus years, Annette. They live for the Cleveland summers, enjoying all the outdoor fun, food and drink the city has to offer – and sharing those times with their 5 adult children and grandchildren!
To learn more about how CRESCO, Greater Cleveland’s leading commercial real estate company, can help you with your property needs, contact us at 216.520.1200, or fill out the form below. A CRESCO professional will contact you shortly.