You founded The Bravitas Group in Montclair, N.J., in 2006. Tell us more about the firm and the work that you do.
I worked on Wall Street for 28 years. I held various executive positions at UBS and PaineWebber, including serving as the president and COO of UBS Financial Services until there was a management shake-up in 2005. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. It allowed me to rethink my life. I was 50 years old and had no desire to go back and work for a huge corporation. I wanted to do something completely different, but I didn’t know what that would be.
It’s incredible how serendipity plays in our lives.
I met Jack Finn when his company, Jack Finn Contracting, was working on our house in 1996, and we became friends. Fast forward to 2005. Jack told me about an old warehouse at 105 Grove Street in Montclair, N.J., that he wanted to convert into office space — something we both needed. I had always been interested in design, and after visiting the property with Jack, I knew I wanted to work on the project. It had been neglected for 30 years, but the bones were terrific. We brought on architect John Reimnitz and got to work. His idea was to include a gallery space to support local artists, which became a signature of Bravitas buildings. The outcome was BrassWorks in 2006, and we immediately leased the entire space. I fell in love with the process, and The Bravitas Group was born. Our mission is to invest in emerging businesses, develop and manage commercial real estate, and support local philanthropic organizations. We’ve grown significantly since that first project, completing 15 buildings in 15 years. We have a fantastic team that offers something unique and personal. We don’t use commercial brokers and have leased about 98% of our spaces. We’ve turned the landlord-tenant relationship on its head because we consider our tenants family.
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