Single Sourcing

Fennelly Adaptations

Stay and Predict

Corrections or additions?

This story by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

March 31, 1999. All rights reserved.

For Fennelly, a New Reach

It was a wrench to give up the logo — his last

name in white capital letters within a blue box. He used it in a


campaign worth $135,000 last year and did $72 million in commercial

real estate deals. Now everything from voice mail to stationery to

billboards must be changed.

"It’s gone. So much for the blue," says Gerard J. Fennelly.

"Sometimes you have to grab change, hold onto it tight, and go

with it. If you stay the same, and resist change, somebody else will

grab it and go right by."

After 13 years of running his own shop, Jerry Fennelly has joined

New America International, a 200-member global partnership of real

estate providers founded by Gerald C. Finn and headquartered in


(see story, page 16). Fennelly got his real estate license when he

was in high school, founded his own company when he was 26, and now

at age 39 has hopped onto commercial real estate’s consolidation


leaving his distinctive logo behind.

Fennelly has decided that successful commercial real estate dealers

must be able to serve as in-house departments for global firms:


corporations look at travel, or human resources, or payroll, or real

estate, they want to outsource that activity so they can minimize

their overhead. The concept of single sourcing is at the forefront


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Single Sourcing

Fennelly saw it work in the travel business, when national and


corporations insisted on having all their travel services performed

by one company. He is married to Nancy Ruderman, and her family owned

Revere Travel but sold it to American Express.

It’s the same in real estate. "If I have a client with four


in Trenton and one in Camden, I know that I have somebody in Camden

to do the job. They run every transaction through me, so I can qualify

it and be the point person to see that the deals are real before I

bother him. That leaves the client free. When I say `Focus on this’

he can make the decision and move on to the next thing."

Fennelly says he interviewed with various networks but decided NAI

had the best base of business, covering almost every part of the


"More so than anybody else, it had the ability to do single


under one roof. Now I can literally take assignments anywhere in the

world," says Fennelly. "It is one central company as opposed

to offices put together, like Colliers Houston."

"What Finn has down to a T is the reporting — efficiently,

effectively, and immediately. It lifts responsibility from the client,

but it also creates a systematic approach. A corporation will get

a booklet every month and can see everything in great detail, whether

it is a marketing assignment or an acquisition."

Fennelly won’t say what the NAI obligation costs. "The entry fee

is nominal compared to the results you get out of it. I get to keep

100 percent ownership, do single source and global business, and my

name stays in the logo." (Like the old one, the new logo has his

name in a box, but it is a different color). "The Finns have been

going through a period of enforcing the brand name." When brokers

look alike, clients have confidence that they will work as a unit.

"Changing is a tough decision, but to all those who resist, I

say you guys are wrong."

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Fennelly Adaptations

Adapting to change is a Fennelly family value. "My

father always taught us to get around things to get to the end result.

Maybe you didn’t have the talent or the skill or whatever, but you

found a way to get to where you wanted to go," says Fennelly.

"He was an improviser."

Both of his parents had real estate firms; his father (the son of

an Irish policeman) sold insurance and opened a commercial real estate

office in Iselin, and his mother (a French Canadian from Montreal)

was one of the first women in New Jersey to open her own residential

brokerage, the Prairie Agency in Colonia. They worked long hours,

coming home for dinner — with plenty of real estate table talk

— and then going back to their offices until midnight.

The children — Jerry was the fourth of five — were expected

to be independent. They were also required to pass the real estate

licensing exam before they could take their drivers’ tests and pitch

in on whatever real estate-related business came their way. One year,

in order to clear 50 acres for development in Manalapan, the family

started a firewood selling operation.

Fennelly majored in business with an emphasis on real estate at St.

Peter’s College, sold houses in the summer, and went to work for


firm after graduation. (Two of his siblings are also in real estate).

At age 26 he had a manager who, as he puts it, "created issues

that got in my way, and one Friday afternoon I said I’m outta here

and went skiing." On Monday he started to work for himself.

He met his future wife when he tried to sell that company some


"She didn’t listen to what I said, so I took her out to


says Fennelly. They have a daughter, 4, and a son, age 7.

In the most recent past, his firm has been comprised of himself and

an assistant, but during the boom times of the late ’80s he had a

couple of other agents working with him, and he hopes that with NAI

he will expand again.

Fennelly has a notoriously high energy level; he runs, races, swims,

takes karate lessons, and does biathlons and triathlons. His cohorts

say he never stops working. And Fennelly makes no apologies for his


"There are two types of people in the real estate business,"

he says, "real estate people and people who work for real estate

companies. If you are a real estate person, you live and eat and drink

and sleep it all the time. If you work for a real estate company,

you go to work and then you leave."

The difference between the two is immediately obvious, he says, and

it is one of two major factors for success. "If you are not


about success and satisfying clients, you are not going to be there.

You will not last."

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Stay and Predict

The other criteria for success is, of course, prognostication ability.

"The oldest saying in real estate, is that if you have the ability

to stay — and predict market conditions — you will


So Fennelly says staying the same was not an option. "It was a

definite calculated move based on a need in the market." And even

though his wife told him not to change, and his seven-year-old son

said he hated the new logo, change he did.

"As my father always said, `Improvise, make it work, get through

it.’ That’s what business is about today, it’s about looking at


accepting it, and getting over it."

NAI Fennelly Inc., 3535 Quakerbridge Road, Suite

102, Hamilton 08619-1209. Gerard J. Fennelly, president. 609-520-0061;

fax, 609-631-9208. Home page:

— Barbara Fox

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