By Ann-Marie Auger Andrews & Annie Sliman
In an industry that is primarily male-dominated, Soozi Jones Walker, CCIM, SIOR and Bobbi Miracle, CCIM, SIOR are the mother-daughter team at Commercial Executives Real Estate Services making strides to prove that Las Vegas commercial real estate is not just a landscape for men to conquer.
Soozi was born in Chicago and at the age of 10, her family moved to Huntington Beach, where she was eventually part of the first graduating class from Edison High School. It was in Southern California where she discovered her passion for commercial real estate because of the widespread presence of commercial buildings. In 1978, Soozi relocated to Las Vegas and obtained her Nevada real estate license from the Nevada School of Real Estate and went on to launch her real estate career at Jack Matthew’s and Co.
Las Vegas is where her daughter, Bobbi Miracle, was born and raised. Bobbi is a graduate of Bonanza High School and an alumna of the University of Nevada, Reno where she received her Bachelor of Science in business administration with an emphasis in marketing.
i watched my mom work hard for her success
Since moving to Las Vegas, Soozi’s first and only job has been in real estate. At the time, the market consisted of general real estate, mostly land and residential, and most commercial space was connected to the hotel industry. For Soozi, she knew that commercial real estate was the direction she wanted her career to head and that is what she pursued fully.
“Every day is different in commercial real estate,” said Soozi. “Every transaction is different, you get to deal with different types of businesses and clients, and for us that’s exciting.”
After completing her undergraduate degree and obtaining her Nevada real estate license from the Nevada School of Real Estate, Bobbi ended up joining Soozi in commercial real estate in 2001 and today both women lead Commercial Executives Real Estate Services.
Bobbi shared that she was raised with a strong work ethic from watching her mother climb the corporate ladder. Motivated by her mother’s drive, Bobbi held a job from the time she was just 15 years old. For Bobbi, commercial real estate became the ideal career path allowing flexibility within her life.
“I like having the ability to set my own hours,” said Bobbi. “In doing so, it allows me to be involved in business transactions while balancing the task of raising a family of my own. A family business also allows for younger generations, like my children, to have the opportunity to see what hard work looks like. This encourages a strong work ethic, and I want Abigail, 11, and Tyler, 8, to have the same experiences that I did growing up. I watched my mom work hard for her success and it instilled the same drive in me.”
Soozi and Bobbi do not often discuss that they are related when working with new clients, although people often catch on rather quickly, given the obvious resemblance. However, their clients know that regardless, their relationship is not paramount in the transaction; meeting the client’s goals come first. Their ability to successfully collaborate as both mother and daughter and as a team is what ultimately drives them as they work to meet their clients’ needs by assisting them in their new location where they may thrive.
Both women have received their designations in the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) and Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) from the CCIM Institute. In addition, Soozi and Bobbi are both very involved with CCIM on local and national levels. Both women attribute a great amount of their success to their respectful designations. It is those networks and qualifications that set them apart from other brokers in the market.
The Las Vegas Valley has become a hotbed for commercial real estate investments, along with commercial real estate firms to manage those properties. What Soozi and Bobbi have found to give them an edge in the business is their connection with their clients on a personal level.
“We work with institutional buyers, local owners and tenants who allow us to deal with their family wealth and trusts, which requires an added level of trust,” said Bobbi. “When dealing with clients who are involved in family businesses, you must be willing to put in the extra effort to build relationships, take the time to understand them and get to know their business. At the end of the day, it is all about providing service with a personal touch that builds trust, and we know our clients appreciate that extra step.”
Ed Nigro, Chairman of the Board for Bank of George and his son, Todd Nigro, President of Nigro Development, can attest to the extra mile that both women are willing to go, to do what is best for their clients.
“We have worked with Soozi and Bobbi for over 20 years. The reason is integrity, professionalism, timely performance and results. You cannot beat that combination.”
Soozi and Bobbi both agree that in the commercial real estate business, you must be willing to help everyone.
“We are here to solve problems, and we enjoy helping people do so,” said Soozi. Commercial real estate is based on problem solving, if our clients didn’t have space issues, they would not need a broker.”
At the end of the day it is all about providing a personal touch
Both women shared that their reasons for becoming real estate brokers are the challenge and responsibility required—and these women can do it all. Their extensive schooling, qualifications, designations and awards are proof of how they have evolved their careers over the years and how they continue to run a successful business. They both love the industry and will tell you that a pertinent part of the job is having a good sense of numbers. Investment returns are central to the ownership decision and understanding and communicating this is a huge part of the success of a commercial real estate brokerage.
While Commercial Executive Real Estate Services has several commercial real estate projects in full swing, one property has them particularly excited. When asked about some of the current properties they have available in the market, both women are eager to talk more about their longtime client Tom Fallon, whose family trust owns properties in Las Vegas, and is the owner of the Pace Plaza, a retail and office park located on W. Sunset and Buffalo.
“For us, it is very exciting to be fully enveloped in a project like Pace Plaza,” said Bobbi. “It is a thrill to see a project from its inception and go along for the ride from the ground up. We are just as invested in every detail as the client is, and it means a lot to us to be included and have the client request and value our input.”
Since being a part of the project from the get go, it helps the mother-daughter duo by giving them an extra edge when presenting to prospective tenants. The first phase of Pace Plaza has been completed and is fully leased. The second phase has broken ground and is currently underway.
It is safe to say that Soozi has had a multifaceted approach to her commercial real estate practice, as she is also known for her time spent as an international instructor with the CCIM Institute. Soozi shared that becoming an instructor was a remarkable experience and was honored to go through the process, which began with 400 applicants who auditioned and eventually dwindled down to just 11. Soozi is the only CCIM instructor from Nevada.
“Being a CCIM instructor has allowed me to become better at what I do,” said Soozi. “As an instructor, I teach not only the theory, but also from the prospective of what I do for a living and how to use the knowledge to make money. My students challenge me to be the best I can be at all times.”
She also explained that the most important aspect of CCIM instruction is to impart competence and confidence in the students before they leave the classroom. “Our live classes are four days long and attended by a variety of students, including MBAs, individuals already successful in their careers or looking for a second career, and professionals looking to better understand the evaluation of a variety of commercial investment opportunities and vehicles,” said Soozi.
Soozi was also awarded the CCIM CI Intro Instructor of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and was also honored with a CCIM Foundation Endowed Scholarship in her name: Soozi Jones Walker, CCIM.
Bobbi obtained her CCIM in 2005 and, along with Soozi, is part of the first mother-daughter team to both have the designation. They hold that same honor with SIOR.
Both Soozi and Bobbi have extensive resumes that display a long history of business success in commercial real estate. From education to certifications to organizational involvement and an extensive list of award recognitions, both women have earned their place as experts in Las Vegas commercial real estate. It is admirable that Soozi paved the way and Bobbi followed suit, and they chose to work not only as a mother-daughter team, but as partners.
Locally, both are closely involved in real estate organizational networks including the Southern Nevada SIOR Chapter, Nevada Association of Realtors, the Southern Nevada CCIM Chapter, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, Commercial Alliance of Las Vegas, and the Frontier Girls of America (Girl Scouts).
“Early on, Bobbi was viewed as a newcomer to this industry and is now perceived as an expert, which speaks volumes about her ability, drive and determination.” said Soozi.
I am very fortunate to get to work with my daugther everyday.
Soozi attributes her success in commercial real estate to two mentors, “I credit Steve Silverstein as a mentor. He taught me how to sell when I was still living in Southern California, and that experience had steered me to become a real estate broker. I also credit Woody Rossum. He recognized my abilities and encouraged me to take my sales skills and work ethic and expand them into real estate.”
Bobbi attributes her career success to three mentors, “I would have to say Steve Silverstein. He is someone who has been in our corner for many years. I sat across from him at a blackjack table in Reno when he asked me what my plans were after I graduated. Once I told him my idea, he rerouted me and said that I was going to move back to Las Vegas and work with my mom. And that is eventually what I did.”
In addition, Bobbi shared that she also attributes a great amount of success to her parents. She owes her desire to succeed to both her mom and dad who taught her to go after what she wanted.
“My dad taught me not to take everything so seriously and to just enjoy life and enjoy my successes. My mom always encouraged me to push forward and to go after what I wanted. Even though we are polar opposites, we balance each other out and work well together to get the job done.”
For some, working with family may not be the ideal situation, let alone your own mother, but for Soozi and Bobbi, they would not have it any other way.
“Working with family can be difficult but the plus side is that you can trust them 100%,” said Bobbi. “Family does tend to take things more personally, but an important thing to remember and consider is that they will always have your back.”
Both women can agree that a downside to their working relationship is that during holidays and family get-togethers, the conversation can gravitate towards work-related topics. Both Soozi and Bobbi, however, try hard to stay away from work-related conversations and muddling those topics with family time outside of the office, as they both realize the importance of separating work from their home life.
“I am very fortunate to get to work with my daughter each day,” said Soozi. “I could not be prouder of her growth and success, and I am glad that I get to see her more today than I did when she was growing up. I am thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of her life in more ways than one; both professionally and personally. For me that is very special. We are more than just a mother and daughter. We have the unique opportunity to also have a working friendship, which is quite rare.”
As a takeaway, Soozi shared that she has worked in the male-dominated commercial real estate industry for over 40 years. While not everyone thought she would succeed, she did, and her vast career experiences have made her even better at what she does. Her desire for success is what ultimately drove her to be the best she can be.
A family business also allows my kids to see what hard work looks like.
“Las Vegas is a unique town. If you are truly good in your chosen field, then you will be respected for who you are as well as what you do, gender does not enter the picture,” said Soozi. “If you put in the time and effort and take care of your clients, then you will see success and respect.”
Bobbi, who is much like Soozi in relation to her drive and work ethic, wants readers to know that success requires hard work; that nothing comes easy and effort really is key when it comes to being a successful business woman.
“When I was growing up, I was taught that you have got to get up each day, put your big-girl pants on, and go to work and get things done. What this taught me is that as long as you put in the effort, you will reap the rewards because hard work always pays off.”
Commercial Executives Real Estate Services is a boutique commercial real estate brokerage firm that is dedicated to providing exceptional service and market knowledge in Southern Nevada. The team consists of individuals with expansive knowledge and experience in commercial real estate in order to better serve both new and old clientele. They specialize in Acquisition and Disposition of Commercial Properties, Leasing and Tenant Representation. Their focus is on office, medical office, retail, industrial products and land. For more information, visit cevegas.com.