It was one of those moments as a journalist when I actually gasped, and it was because we had hit pay dirt on our Power 50 Real Estate list.
First some background. When we create these power lists, Managing Editor Joe St. Arney and I use a few approaches. The first year we do a power list, it's a place setter, incorporating perennial powerhouses in that industry. For subsequent years, it becomes, "What have you done lately, Mr. 42 (or whatever number)?" which accounts for the high turnover—often in the 50 percent range—that we usually have on these lists. We evaluate the person's performance since the last list published while also looking at how that person might be powerful—or not—over the next few months. The list is also based on a point of time, because at some point Joe and I have to commit to a final ranking for everyone. So past, present, future all get mish-mashed into these power lists.
Click here to read the 2012 Power 50 Real Estate list.
Joe and I also identify big issues in the industry (American Dream, Atlantic City, real estate company mergers, the quest to retain life sciences companies, incentives, etc.). This year that process was especially thorny because the list was set to print immediately before Election Day. The higher ed bond referendum would have a big impact on real estate if it passed, but we wouldn't know the vote before publication (and couldn't risk assuming the ballot question would pass based on polls). We fudged it a bit, putting a couple people on the list because of the referendum and noting it was printed before Election Day. Then Sandy struck, pushing back publication by a week, and then ultimately delaying publication several weeks to Dec. 3 because other supplements were already scheduled. We cleaned up the Election Day references but otherwise, this list was compiled and ranked before the higher ed referendum passed, and before the devastation of Sandy, which has even bigger real estate impacts.
But back to the gasp. One issue we also looked at was where Amazon would bring its two distribution centers. We had heard towns and developers were clamoring for the warehouses. Even Bob Torricelli was in the mix, representing one of the developer suitors. But it was stubbornly difficult to identify the person who would play the key role in making the decision for Amazon—the person that New Jerseyans were reportedly jetting cross country to court.
Eventually, we got a name but no company: Jon Hanson of Seattle. But was it Jon or John, Hanson or Hansen? A quick Google search revealed two Jon Hansons working in real estate in Seattle: John Hansen of The CAC Group and John Hanson of Commercial Real Estate Solutions. After some sleuthing with sources in Seattle and Jersey, we verified that John Hanson with the Cushman & Wakefield affiliate CRES was the one handling Amazon warehouses in New Jersey.
Having two people with the same name on an NJBIZ power list is the kind of thing that makes me excited, and even elicits a gasp. We briefly considered giving the Hansons the Zangari/Zaro treatment of combining them at the same rank, but we quickly decided there's no way the Seattle Hanson could be on par with the Morristown Hanson, who has been described as "a combination of Warren Buffett and Obi-Wan Kenobi," along with comparisons to Henry Kissinger and Wayne Gretsky—and that's just what has been said for our power lists. The one question we could not answer: do these two Hansons know each other?
So from Adam to Zygi—with a few Hansons in the middle—I hope you enjoy this year's Power 50 Real Estate list. Send your feedback to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (732) 246-5702.