by Dan Rafter
Marcus Pitts simply wouldn’t let the economic slowdown hurt his business. And that, more than anything, explains why Pitts ranked as the top producer at West Des Moines, Iowa-based NAI Optimum last year.
“You have to in your own mind mentally overcome the challenges that are out there,” said Pitts, senior vice president with NAI Optimum. “I tried to shield myself from the negative that was hitting our industry in 2008, 2009 and 2010. There was business out there. There is business out there today. For me it’s about getting in the right positive mental attitude to go out there and find it.”
Avoiding the negative wasn’t always easy back in 2008 and 2009. Pitts tended to avoid much of the newspaper; it was too often filled with negative news about the economy and real estate. He scaled back, too, on attending commercial real estate industry events. Too often, his fellow brokers would spend their time talking about what terrible years they were suffering through.
Pitts didn’t want any of that to give him an excuse to lose business. The economy might have been bad. But that didn’t mean that Pitts couldn’t still close commercial real estate deals.
“The years of 2008, 2009 and 2010 were actually great years for me,” he said. “Commercial real estate brokerage is a business. You have to work hard and seek out the business. I never stopped doing that, even during the worst years of the recession.”
It helped, too, that Pitts has during his 10-year career crafted a roster of loyal clients. Many of those clients have worked with Pitts for much of his decade-long time in the real estate business.
Today business is better in the Des Moines market. But Pitts hasn’t changed his approach. He still works hard, studies his market and provides top customer service to his clients.
Along the way, he’s worked on several big projects in the Des Moines market.
One that he’s especially proud of the 1,000-acre master-planned Prairie Trail project in nearby Ankeny, Iowa. This mixed-use development by DRA Properties combines businesses, residential homes and homes to create a “new urbanism” community, one in which neighbors can actually learn each other’s names.
The project includes such varied projects as the 57,000-square-foot FFA Enrichment Center, a shared-use facility for the Iowa Future Farmers of America and for area events. This same parcel — known as Campus Town — is home, too, to the Iowa Soybean Association headquarters’ building.
Prairie Trail when complete will also feature a business park and retail areas.
“I take a bit of personal pride in that development,” said Pitts, who is now leasing space in Prairie Trail. “I am from Ankeny. My mother still lives up in Ankeny. There’s a personal sense of pride in those transactions. It’s rewarding to help a community like that grow.”
Pitts has a busy year planned. Not only will he focus on growing his business, he’s also set to get married in April. That, of course, will start a new phase in his life.
One thing won’t change, though: Pitts says that he will never regret making the move to commercial real estate 10 years ago. It’s a business, he says, that perfectly suits his personality and temperament.
“I feel like I am a people person,” Pitts said. “And that helps in this business. Also, commercial real estate is a customer-service business. I’m good at customer service. We are usually solving problems in this business. There’s a vacant space that needs to be leased. There’s a building that needs to be sold. There’s a piece of land that needs to be sold. The owners need a solution. I’m good at working with these owners to help them get things done.”