Power Players: Point Of Contact

On the surface, it appears incongruous: a correlation between sculpting and commercial real estate. But as sculptor and commercial realtor Frank Mann explains it, it makes good sense.

“From sculpting, I know I’ve become a better listen-er,” says Mann, a senior director with the global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. “You have to see and observe what you are doing, what you’re going to do.”

Through observation of live models, Mann learned that there are myriad planes, or facets, to the human body, just as there are to a business problem. “You have to observe before you make a change,” he says. “Sculpting takes patience. Relationships do, too.”

Relationship building is Mann’s primary purpose in his role as alliance director, the single point of contact between Cushman & Wakefield and the client. “I become the person that directs the alliance between our client and the different parts of our company,” Mann says. “It requires good listening skills, looking at the ‘big picture,’ building long term relationships. Part of it is the old saying, ‘Walk in my shoes.’”

Mann is the point of contact for such high profile clients as Aon, Ernst & Young, Georgia Tech and Chinamex, among many others. “Cushman & Wakefield really want me to work for those other firms,” he says. “Fifty percent or more of what I do is consulting, which is almost recession-proof. I listen to the needs of our clients and try to find the best solution for them.”

The services Mann provides include helping clients develop strategic and master plans, efficiency program consulting, acquiring, disposing of or consolidating office space, capital markets strategy and build-to-suits. He serves an international client base from cities throughout the United States, Asia, Latin America and Europe. His recent work with Chinamex, a successful global business incubator which established a U.S. headquarters in Atlanta this fall, provides a snapshot of the alliance director process.

The Chinese firm, headquartered in Beijing, was looking for a site in the United States that could serve North America and act as a jumping off point for developing business in South America.

With the cooperation of the state of Georgia, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Chinese Americans, Mann persuaded Chinamex that Atlanta had the infrastructure requirements in place, especially with regard to transportation. “Hartsfield-Jackson International Air-port is right here,” he says. “The Port of Savannah is a little over 200 miles away.”

But it was the intangibles that sealed the deal. “Chinamex chose Atlanta over San Francisco for their first foray into the U.S. because they felt embraced by the community,” Mann says. He was equally delighted that Chinamex decided to locate its venture in Atlantic Station. “Asian companies understand vertical living,” he said. “They’re comfortable in the downtown setting. Having Chinamex come here is a very good win for Georgia.”

An Illinois native, Mann earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University and a master’s in business administration from Olivet Nazarene University. He began his career in commercial real estate services at Jones Lang LaSalle, a global financial and professional services firm. He worked for that firm for 16 years, arriving in Georgia in 1996. In 2006 he made the move to Cushman & Wakefield.

“One of the things I love about Atlanta is that if you come here and say, ‘I want to get involved,’ they welcome you,” Mann says. He is an active, enthusiastic supporter of the Metropolitan YMCA of Atlanta where he’s served on the board for the past 10 years. In November 2009 he was honored as volunteer of the year for the organization.

Mann is also a member of the board for Young Audiences, an organization providing in-school arts assemblies and programs. “Children are inspired by art,” he says. “They might not become an artist but it might be the thing that causes them to stay in school and further their education.” And who knows, maybe one of those kids will become a sculptor, or even a commercial real estate services alliance director.



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