My interest in Commercial Real Estate is rooted in a curiosity about how it’s used and the “whys” of different users rejecting or accepting it. I have always been one to ask the question of how we make a process better or also assume the process used is not good enough. There has always been a nagging personal sense of never being quite good enough or being finished perfecting my craft. What better industry to be in that constantly needs to improve, prove my value, be creative with new ideas, learn from creative people, challenge the norm, adapt to surprises, and deal with a potential crisis than the Real Estate business?
I came into the industry through the construction arena initially. Soon, I found myself drawn to the operating side and seeking better efficiencies than I saw in property management in the early 80’s. My subsequent considerable career growth was the realization of connecting the property’s operation to the income-producing side, that being the leasing value, which brought me full circle in understanding the business’s how, what, and why parts. We must coordinate the care of the physical asset, the tenant and fiscal operations, and the leasing and strategic marketing. The assembly of all the pieces allowed me to take on more significant leadership positions, which expanded my understanding of both the real estate business and running the business of a real estate business, which are vastly different skills requiring on-the-job experience, patience, constant self-reassessment of our capabilities, and the two greatest superpowers ever, the ability to pause before speaking and listening to understand instead of only to respond or rebut.
This industry as a career has brought me a lifetime of challenges, opportunities, and successes and introduced me to a myriad of colleagues and clients who have enormously impacted my life. I am truly blessed to have had a career doing what I love alongside people I respect and enjoy being with daily.
My greatest joys in the business today involve two primary pursuits, which I believe are mission-critical to our firm.
First, it’s the people. This industry is all about the quality of the people we must TRUST to serve the clients who TRUST us!
How do we find, hire, motivate, and elevate the very best talent in our business? There are connections between service lines that continually impact outcomes, and no single element of the business is an island in the eyes of the client. Property management can impact leasing and vice versa, project management can impact leasing or tenant relationships, the accuracy of an accountant can directly impact the client’s internal reporting to their client, and so on. At the heart of everything is a culture that supports and encourages excellence, and it’s the quality of the people who deliver the results our clients trust us to provide – I am passionate about the need to get that right!
As a Leader, I want to be that somebody who makes everybody feel like the somebody they genuinely are!
Second, we must be chasing constant improvement. I know questioning everything is a double-edged sword, and finding satisfaction can be elusive. Yet our constant pursuit of improvement has allowed us to embrace innovation in processes, technology, service levels, accounting and reporting methods, and ways of communication. The need for constant improvement got us through a financial crash or two and a pandemic and is leading us through a morphing hybrid work model, so we shall continue. Unfortunately, I will wake up tomorrow thinking about what else we can do to improve our delivery and enhance our client-owners asset performance. There is a next idea hiding out there to assist in better operations, leasing, construction, marketing, and communications, and my job is to rally the team of people at Hiffman who share my passion and see the potential for improvement to help me find that next idea.
As a Leader, I realize there is no absolute perfect way. The most important thing is to do something and continuously improve the way, process, and outcomes whenever possible.
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
Professional Background & Experience
Dave serves as the CEO of NAI Hiffman and Hiffman National, focusing on identifying client needs and aligning the requirements to solve them through strategic business, financial, and operational objectives. This includes coordinating and delivering solutions encompassing leasing, management, capital markets, project services, research, and marketing services to achieve the client’s objectives. Dave’s business philosophy centers on creating a cohesive and integrated real estate delivery platform along all business lines. The check and balance is always our ability to custom design that delivery strategy to benefit the client’s needs and the unique market drivers facing the real estate. A significant component of the role Dave fills is helping to grow the firm’s client roster and enhancing the firm’s service levels for our client’s benefit. We cannot fully leverage those service level improvements without the constant recruitment and retention efforts for top-quality talent within the firm. The culture, the brand, and the care for the people that make up the Hiffman organization are an essential part of the CEO’s role and responsibility and requires continuous focus to serve our client. One of the most rewarding aspects of Dave’s role is developing the people and watching the growth of talent increase with the career responsibility gained.
Before joining Hiffman in 2006, Dave was at Trammell Crow for 7 years, overseeing the delivery of the firm’s broad spectrum of management services for the institutional client portfolio throughout the Midwest. Prior to Trammel Crow, he was at Insignia/ ESG, responsible for the Midwest portfolio. Dave grew the portfolios significantly in both roles over his tenures with each firm.
Dave’s real estate career spans over 38 years and covers several disciplines within the industry, including property management, construction, and redevelopment. Dave has built an impressive client roster that includes some of the most recognizable owners of commercial real estate, including TA Realty, AEW, Highstreet, Stockbridge, ML Realty, Stag, NUVEEN, PRG, Granite, OSTERS, JP Morgan, and Link, among many other highly regarded clients.
Dave’s most recognized quote inside the firm, which he preaches daily, is the need for all of us to be “TRUSTED to do what we say we will do!” by the client and one another. The company will grow if we accomplish that well because the client will award us more business opportunities.
Professional Affiliations & Designations
- Covenant Youth Camp, Lake Geneva – Board Member
- Naperville Elderly Home – Foundation Board Member
- BOMA Suburban Chicago, RPA