Pebb Enterprises rebuilds, shifts focus 2 years after devastating plane crash

Boca Raton real estate firm is moving away from retail and into office/industrial

Ian Weiner (Credit: Pebb Enterprises)
Ian Weiner (Credit: Pebb Enterprises)

More than two years after a plane crash in Akron killed seven Pebb Enterprises employees, the Boca Raton-based real estate investment firm has rebuilt its team and is shifting its focus back to South Florida.

The company has been working quietly to rebuild following the devastating plane crash in November 2015.

A family run business, Pebb is now selling some of its out-of-state retail properties with plans to acquire office and industrial assets in South Florida, President Ian Weiner said. His father and grandfather, Bruce and Paul Weiner, started the company in the early 1970s. Ian’s brother, Jared Weiner, was among those killed in the crash.

Regarding the company’s strategy going forward, Ian Weiner said, “The question we’ve been asking ourselves and have the answer to is, do we deploy that capital outside of Florida? Everyone wants to be here,” he said. “Even in a market correction, South Florida is going to be pretty resilient.”

Earlier this month, the company sold a Cleveland-area shopping center for $15.8 million. In February, it sold a redeveloped center in Cincinnati for $29.1 million. The real estate firm also just put a property outside of St. Louis, Missouri on the market and expects it to sell for more than $20 million.

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“Traditionally, we were more retail-focused but given the retail environment we’re seeing, we’re looking to diversity into office, medical office and industrial,” Weiner said.

Within Florida, Pebb is concentrating on Palm Beach County first, then Broward and Miami-Dade, the Tampa/St. Petersburg market, and Orlando. Pebb is planning on closing about three deals ranging from $20 million to $50 million in South Florida this year, with a focus on suburban office buildings in Boca Raton and West Palm Beach.

In 2015, Pebb lost principals Jared Weiner and Ori Rom, along with employees Gary Shapiro, Diana Suriel, Thomas Virgin, Nick Weaver and Diane Smoot in the crash. The group was on a trip scouting properties when the plane crashed into an apartment building that killed everyone on board, including the flight crew. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found the Execuflight crew was to blame for the accident.

A number of the victims’ family members have sued the charter company since then, including Laurel Rom; Amanda Weiner, who is Jared’s widow; and Corey Shapiro. Ian Weiner declined to comment on pending litigation.

In the immediate aftermath, he said, “it never really crossed my mind” to sell the family owned business. “Fortunately we had dedicated people who stepped in and were able to manage us in the immediate aftermath.”