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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Day in the life of: Jeffrey Rinkov

The CEO of Lee & Associates sounds off on expansion plans, precision running and the enduring appeal of a Seinfeld rerun
By Maya Rajamani | October 19, 2018 07:00AM

Jeffrey Rinkov (Photo by Jeff Newton)

When the family textile manufacturing company Jeff Rinkov worked for through high school and college closed in the early 1990s, he was tasked with leasing out a facility in Commerce, California, that the company had owned. So Rinkov turned to the brokers who’d helped the company buy the building, who were able to find a tenant.

“At the end of the lease signing, they said to me, ‘What are you going to do now?’” Rinkov recalls. “And I jokingly said to them, ‘I’m going to get my real estate license and come to work for you guys.’” The brokers, who were in the process of opening an office for commercial real estate services firm Lee & Associates, didn’t take his comment as a laughing matter. A few months later, Rinkov was working for the three founding partners of the firm’s Commerce office.

These days — with Rinkov having risen to CEO of Lee & Associates — the brokerage is doing brisk business across Los Angeles County. This year, two of Lee & Associates’ South Bay agents represented global logistics solutions provider Damco in a lease of nearly 1 million square feet in a distribution building in Santa Fe Springs from Goodman Group — a deal that was “likely the largest industrial lease in Los Angeles County history,” Rinkov said. That same month, the firm’s Commerce office represented a garment company that signed a 500,000-square-foot lease with Goodman in the same city, he said.

The past few years have been all about expansion for the firm, which currently has 58 offices and more than 900 brokers across the country. Under Rinkov’s leadership, the firm has opened offices in key markets like Seattle and, most recently, Miami. It’s also looking to expand into 10 to 15 additional U.S. markets, broaden its presence in Canada and possibly branch out into Mexico, he said.

On the West Coast, the firm is expanding its office, retail and multifamily brokerage presence in and around Los Angeles, an initiative that’s been supported by its new Pasadena office, Rinkov said. It’s his goal to put the breadth of the firm’s reach on the industry’s radar. “We’re trying to combat that idea that we’re significantly smaller, and [convey] that we are national and international in scope,” he said.

5:00 a.m. I usually wake up just after 5 a.m. I’m guilty of being that person that checks their phone before their feet hit the floor. Some days, I do a boot camp at 5:30 a.m. that happens at a local park, or maybe a 6 a.m. spin class. I’m doing intermittent fasting right now — I try not to eat until noon every day and I try and stop eating by 8 p.m. every night — so I skip breakfast. But I do have a big cup of coffee after I work out.

7:30 a.m. I make some calls during my commute into work, whether that’s with targets we’re recruiting or our existing offices.

8:30 a.m. I arrive at the office around 8:30 or 9 a.m., and my day is a combination of calls with our brokers, office leadership, board members and vendors, reviewing new technology for the firm and coordinating on our expansion initiatives.

10:00 a.m. Two to three times a week I’ll meet with our COO, Lori Rodenbeck. We’re really focused on making sure we’re pushing our initiatives forward every day. Right now, we happen to be in the late stages of planning our annual company event in Las Vegas, which is in two weeks.

11:00 a.m. There’s usually an 11 o’clock call to my wife, to check in. We’ll catch up on any social obligations for the evening, or what my travel schedule is going to be like.

12:00 p.m. It’s a little quieter between noon and 2 p.m., so I can plan for things like travel for expansion purposes, conferences, panel discussions and media opportunities the firm participates in.

2:00 p.m. I usually eat lunch at my desk later in the day. I keep kosher, so my lunch options are pretty limited to things like a salad, or something that my wife has packed from the night before; chicken breast, maybe some leftover brisket. While I eat, I’ll try and read industry publications and online newsletters. I’ll usually have another cup of coffee.

2:30 p.m. I typically spend some time in the afternoon making sure that we’re still on task for our strategic objectives. I’ll also be making phone calls — we want to be extremely responsive to our agents and our leadership.

3:30 p.m. Some of the afternoon is usually spent in recruiting discussions. It’s also a time when we can refocus on our West Coast offices. One of my favorite things is to be able to meet with a group of brokers in person and talk about growth plans for Lee, and how we plan to continue being competitive, and meaningful, and relevant. I’ll also send out messages to our agents and update them on significant transactions and new people.

5:00 p.m. I read through contracts and return phone calls. I also like to spend some time making a list of what the goals and objectives are for the coming day. That helps me get focused, and helps me use my time wisely the next day.

5:30 p.m. If I haven’t worked out in the morning, I’ll go to the gym on my way home, or to a class. My latest fitness obsession is this class called Precision Running, which is a treadmill-based group running class. I try and take that three times a week.

7:00 p.m. I’m usually home between 7 or 8 p.m., which is when I have dinner with my wife and my youngest son, who’s a sophomore in high school. I also have a 23-year-old daughter who works for an entertainment marketing company in Santa Monica, and another son who is a junior in college. I’m really lucky, my wife’s a really great cook. She makes great fish tacos, great chicken schnitzel, fantastic meatballs. Usually one night a week, she’ll get everything ready and I’ll barbecue. We’re lucky the weather is great throughout the year here.

8:00 p.m. After dinner, I have a massive treat of about 10 gummy bears. That’s kind of my cheat food. And it’s baseball season right now — I love the opportunity to watch the Dodgers play. My son will be doing homework, so my wife and I can hang out. We have a hard time turning down an opportunity to watch a Seinfeld rerun. Sometimes we’ll watch the news after that. And then I’m usually in bed by 10 o’clock.