Office Midwest

Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame: NKF's William Rolander Jr.

Midwest Commercial Real Estate HOF William Rolander,ph01

Each year, Midwest Real Estate News runs its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame issue. This year, we are also running the profiles in that issue online, with the hope of showing our readers what it takes to thrive in the CRE business. This time, we look at the career of William Rolander Jr., executive managing director with the Chicago office of Newmark Knight Frank.

He has the numbers: William Rolander Jr. is a downtown Chicago office leasing specialist, with the numbers to prove he knows exactly what he’s doing. He boasts nine lease transactions of more than 1 million square feet on his resume, and another five just a couple of rungs under seven figures.

One of those big ones was more than a short distance east of Cook County. The 1.2-million-square-foot Sony Center is in Berlin, Germany. And Rolander’s hard work helped make this impressive movie showcase a reality.

The bio: Rolander has about 30 years in the CRE business under his belt, most notably 21 years at Chicago’s muscular John Buck Company, where he rose from vice president to principal and managing director of Buck’s Product Leasing Group.

Rolander gained extensive experience leasing office space in Chicago’s central business district and suburbs, as well as abroad, during a sort stint in Germany.

Then, in September of 2016, he transitioned to the Chicago office of Newmark Knight Frank as an executive managing director.

Earlier, Rolander served as a senior associate at CB Richard Ellis (now CBRE), focusing on office leases in the greater Chicago area.

The keys: When we asked Rolander what the keys to his success were, he said, “It has really been just old-fashioned blocking and tackling.

“It is an industry that requires time and effort, and I know I have put the time in. Honesty and integrity, doing what you say, will likely be my legacy. Not always an easy thing to deliver on, but it’s a small world, and smaller industry, so staying true to your word is important.”

Trophy case: Crain’s Chicago Business Downtown Transaction of the Year, five times; nominee, Suburban Office Transaction of the Year and Suburban Leasing Broker of the Year, NAIOP, 2000; Top Five Salesperson, CB Richard Ellis, 1988, 1989 and 1991.

Serving his industry: Rolander for two years chaired The John Buck Company Foundation, and was responsible for the overall oversight of the company’s charitable activities.

Meeting the challenges: When we asked Rolander about the biggest challenges in his business, he pointed to that the lack of control CRE pros sometimes have over the industry.

“It is a very difficult and somewhat inefficient industry in terms of sourcing clients, although today it is significantly more transparent than when I first started,” Rolander said. “Information is an asset that had a higher value a decade ago than today, and the speed of information transference is much greater. Customers and clients expect access to decisions and information much more quickly, and due to the many stakeholders, can challenge anyone to meet these demands. Many people are swirling to find a technology to disrupt the industry, but I think we’ll lag other industries for years to come.”