Management Secrets of Top Westchester CEOs: Tony Lembeck, CEO of NAI Friedland Realty in Yonkers

Diversification is the key to success in tough times, according to Tony Lembeck, CEO of NAI Friedland Realty, the largest privately owned commercial realty firm in Westchester. As Lembeck puts it, “You have to have your feet and hands working in several areas so if one is down, another one will pick up the slack.”

Friedland handles industrial, retail, and office space, but not residential properties. There are 20 brokers in the Yonkers-based company, plus five support staffers. One of the projects that put it on the map was the conversion of the Otis Elevator Company plant in Yonkers to a multi-tenant facility. It has a major presence in the Bronx as well. Lembeck explains that Friedland’s industrial division has been traditionally the largest in the company, but, about seven years ago, the retail division took off. Major clients include Walgreens, IHOP, Liberty Travel, Dunkin’ Donuts, Westy Storage, and Raymour & Flanigan. Even during the recession, he says, the retail division continued to make deals.

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“I look on my role as CEO as being kind of a head counselor,” Lembeck says. The 55-year-old has been involved in camping his entire life, including ownership of a summer camp for several years. “My job here is to keep the sales force focused and motivated, rubbing their back when they’re down, to let them know that they’re part of the family,” he says. “Every broker here is an independent contractor, so the hardest part of my job is to get everyone to work together as a team instead of as individuals.”

When he’s not getting his brokers to sing “Kumbaya,” Lembeck lends a big helping hand to Camp Viva, a respite camp for Westchester residents and their families who are living with HIV/AIDS. He helped it get started and, 19 years later, he still spends a week every summer helping out at the camp.

Photo by Cathy Pinsky

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