Shaul Rikman, the founder of Isram Realty Group, came to the U.S. from Israel at the age of 10, spending his earliest days in a two-bedroom, upper Manhattan apartment with his grandparents and his youth in Queens and Roslyn, Long Island. That’s where he really discovered the value of work.
“I did a lot of jobs as a kid, from delivering flowers to unpacking supermarket trucks,” before majoring in accounting at Baruch College and getting a broad background in business. “I always enjoyed being independent and I wanted to have my own business.”
After venturing into the diamond business during the 1970s and early 1980s, Shaul saw an opportunity in the acquisition and management of commercial real estate in Florida, where he could raise his family in the sunshine. There he founded Isram Realty Group, honing his successful approach to business and organizational management.
“It was always important for me to put together an organization I was comfortable with—a cohesive team that would be sustainable over time,” he explains. “I’ve been persistent in finding the right people to work with, because you’re only as good as the people around you. That’s the key to meeting all the challenges that inevitably come your way in this business.” Loyalty and integrity are critical, he adds. “You can teach someone skills, but loyalty and integrity are essentials that can’t be taught,” he says.
IDB has given me a strong sense of trust. Their word is good and I’ve never been let down. Whatever is promised is delivered.
Time-honored Customer Service
Clearly, his philosophy has stood the test of time. The company’s entry into the real estate business started with the purchase of assets from the Resolution Trust Corporation, capitalizing on the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s. By making a long-standing commitment to customer service and forging strong relationships with both landlords and tenants, Isram was able to transform those first distressed acquisitions into stable income-producing properties. That same dedication and strategic investments have helped Isram grow its portfolio to over 20 retail centers and 17 multifamily communities.
“Customer service is a key component to our success as we developed, in the mid-1990s, the business model of owning, self-managing and self-leasing properties. Everything is in-house,” he says. “Our people in Leasing, Property Management, Tenant Relations and Administration pride themselves on having the knowledge and a courteous, professional and efficient approach to resolving tenant issues and working closely with new potential tenants.”
As a result, Isram has maintained strong relationships with a number of anchor tenants, including such leading national retailers as Publix, Winn-Dixie, Aldi, Save-a-Lot, Ross Dress For Less, Stein Mart, CVS, Walgreens, Big Lots, Beall’s, Jo-Ann Fabric, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, among many others.
Supporting The Community
Whether it’s the multifamily residential business, which makes up approximately 35– 40% of revenues, or the retail side (60–65%), where the company has created neighborhood hubs with everything from post offices to pizza restaurants and movie theaters, “supporting and respecting the community is very important,” Shaul says. “We work hard to provide a safe and well-maintained environment for people.”
Much of this focus on people—not typically found in the often-cutthroat real estate market—comes directly from the business as a family enterprise, which includes his wife, sister, son, daughter and nephew. “Our employees are like family, too,” Shaul explains, with many people working at the firm for 10–15 years and more.
I’m very proud of this company and what we’ve achieved, and I want to make sure it’s here for generations to come.
Rod Trzcinski, First VP, Senior Real Estate Lender for Florida, John White, SVP Manager, Florida Commercial Lending, Shaul Rickman, Chairman, Isram Realty Group Moise Hillel, EVP, Regional Manager for Florida
As a self-sufficient, full-service real estate company, Isram continues to expand its presence in Florida and New York. Now with an eye toward the medical office category and their adjacency to hospitals, the company continually seeks opportunities to acquire well-located retail shopping centers and multifamily communities that can benefit from its enhanced leasing, redevelopment and intensive management expertise.
“Through our resilient and committed capital structure and our long-term relationship with IDB, we’re able to commit to and close deals quickly and effectively,” Shaul says. “I look at IDB as a partner,” he adds. “They have my back and vice versa.”