Warburg veteran’s departure comes amid major shakeup

Robert Doernberg’s jump to Brown Harris Stevens latest in series of changes

Frederick Peters and Robert Doernberg
Frederick Peters and Robert Doernberg

Robert Doernberg, a 21-year-veteran of Warburg Realty, has jumped to Brown Harris Stevens amid a period of substantial upheaval at the firm.

Doernberg, who was a sales director at Warburg for the past 10 years, said he made the switch in order to return to the brokerage side of the business. “I really love brokerage,” said Doernberg, who called Warburg President Frederick Peters a “mentor, boss and friend.” “It didn’t have anything to do with the company.”

Still, the move is the latest management shakeup at Warburg. The rejiggering included putting together an all-new marketing team this summer.

In a September 23 blog post, President Frederick Peters acknowledged that his management team has undergone a “series of radical transformations” over the prior 12 months. “As I look around our conference table during the weekly management meetings, half the faces were not there a year ago,” he wrote.

The shakeup at the firm has seen a number of the firm’s top executives depart, including sales directors Doernberg and Jane Bayard, as well as Michael Guerra, a Douglas Elliman veteran who was recruited in April to lead Warburg’s push into Brooklyn. Charlie Lewis, a longtime Warburg manager, is expected to scale back management responsibilities at the end of the year to concentrate on brokerage.

Reached by phone Friday, Peters told The Real Deal that he wanted to take the company to another level and didn’t feel he could do so with the team he had in place previously.

“Without being specific, I had people on my management team who were wonderful and knowledgeable but maybe were the right people for the 20th century but weren’t the right people for the 21st century, so I’ve done a lot of shaking up,” he said.

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In marketing, he added, Warburg wasn’t “exploiting” its strong brand and he wanted to bring in “fresh eyes.”

Toward that, Warburg hired Jasmine Takanikos, a marketing consultant focused on brand marketing for agents, as well as Silvia Wong, formerly a marketing coordinator at Sotheby’s International and Beth McBride, previously at Rubenstein.

Another new face on the management team is Jason Haber, founder of Rubicon Realty, which Warburg acquired last year. In addition, Doug Williford was named sales director for Warburg’s Madison Avenue office.

Peters said many of the changes have coincided with his daughter, Clelia Peters, joining the company as director of strategy and innovation – a move sources said has been seen as extremely positive. Formerly a strategist at Boston Consulting Group, she has helped Warburg analyze its business, including asking agents for feedback.

Peters acknowledged that increased competition in the market was a factor for the firm’s shakeup.

He spoke directly about several new brokerages in town. “How they will do in the long run is completely up in the air, but Town and Urban Compass and places like that, they definitely do raise the bar in terms of agent awareness of what sort of marketing and technology opportunities may exist,” he said. “We need to be competitive.”

In Doernberg’s case, Peters said it was fortuitous that his former sales director realized he had “run out of gas” as a manager and wanted to return to working as a broker.