CRE Midwest

Daniel P. Cawley: Being the best person he can be

dan-cawley
Daniel Cawley

Daniel Cawley came out of college in 1977, and worked in his father’s real estate company in LaSalle-Peru, Illinois—a town of 20,000 people. Mostly it was residential, but Cawley’s father, Ryan, did a land assemblage in 1967 which started commercial development in the region that ended up becoming a 500,000 square foot regional mall anchored by Montgomery Wards, Carson Pierre Scoot and Penny's.

Daniel Cawley came out of college in 1977, and worked in his father’s real estate company in LaSalle-Peru, Illinois—a town of 20,000 people. Mostly it was residential, but Cawley’s father, Ryan, did a land assemblage in 1967 which started commercial development in the region that ended up becoming a 500,000 square foot regional mall anchored by Montgomery Wards, Carson Pirie Scott and Penny's. Across the highway from this mall another land assemblage was done to create an industrial park. That's where Cawley got his start before coming to suburban Chicago in September of 1985.

“I love the collegial culture of the industry,” Cawley said, President of Cawley Chicago Real Estate. “We compete against each other, but we also help each other make deals by sharing information and best practices. As in any commission sales career, there is no limit to the income potential.”

“Lastly I'm always amazed by the different clients businesses and their product development,” he continued. “Nearly every time I walk through a plant for the first time I think "what a cool idea (or product)". The ingenuity and creativity of our clients is amazing. Helping them achieve their real estate goals has me feel I played a small part in their success.”

In June of 1998, Cawley formed Cawley Chicago Commercial Real Estate Company. His vision, still implemented today, was to provide world-class brokerage services to institutional as well as Chicago-based entrepreneurial companies caught in the service void between the large multi-national and the local, mom-and-pop brokerage companies. According to Cawley, his company’s culture is what sets them apart from the rest.

“We have a clear set of values that determine every decision we make and 7 core competencies that guide all of our planning and processes,” he said. “Our size allows accountability across all business services which we believe, and have been told by our clients, makes a difference in client experience. We talk about our service versus our performance outcomes. The success of a real estate transaction is based on mostly uncontrollable influences like the economy or governance. Our service model is totally under our control and why our values are the basis for everything we do.”

What's happening in Chicago’s real estate market right now that makes him hopeful? “The deal volume and velocity are holding steady which makes our business fun again. Companies continue to grow and institutional investor money is back, specifically in the Midwest after being concentrated on the coasts for three years.”

Cawley said that in his life, memorable deals happen at the most opportune time—not so much about the outcome or the fee, but the timing of the experience. I believe there are no accidents in life and every event serves a purpose.

“The first institutional client deal right after I started my company in 1998 had me realize that company size pales to a client’s trust and belief, that you will do what you say. In 2008 when the world was crashing, I did a large transaction with Liberty, and a second with CenterPoint, that carried us through severe financial difficulty. This year we closed a large property management portfolio (a new division in 2010) and our first consulting deal with a national web based retail company (new division 2013).”

He’s also had several mentors, and noted that leadership starts with non-negotiable values.

“They all encourage, tell the truth, are great listeners, and taught me to see through the noise to the heart of the matter. To look inward first to determine if my view is skewed and having the courage to be decisive and take the required action—whether it's me or the other person. Amazing!”

The biggest lesson he’s learned working in industrial real estate? “I have two ears and one mouth and try to use them accordingly. Secondly, just because I think I know the answer, doesn't mean it’s right for the client or project. When in doubt, refer to lesson one!”

Cawley’s pretty active and competitive, so when he isn’t working staying in shape includes daily workouts, biking, golfing and making a good meal with friends.

What’s something Cawley would like to do, that he hasn’t already? “Spend a month in Italy traveling the country, learning some cooking tips, the nuances and drinking of the wine. I'd also love to play a round of golf at Augusta National golf course where they play the Masters tournament every year.”

Music is very important to him as well, as he listens to it all the time, and has several favorites. “Of course there's Muddy, Jimi, Van the Man, Eric, Avett Brothers, almost any country and much of the Christian music today is so encouraging.”

His favorite movie? One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest still ranks near the top. “I love really strong characters in movies. The entire cast in that movie was amazing. In particular the moment when Nicholson discovered all of his fellow inmates were able to leave at any time. Why do we restrict ourselves remains my guiding thought.”

An inspiring fact about Cawley? “I spent much of my early life medicating with drugs and alcohol, and blaming everyone else for my situation and problems, until I discovered I was born for a reason. Since that discovery I have worked to become the best person I can be. I must add, I fail regularly but I get a fresh start every morning I wake up. What can be better than that?”