Saluting the Industry’s Best on a Big Night in NYC

Commercial Property Executive and Multi-Housing News host some 150 professionals at the annual event celebrating outstanding achievement in the real estate industry.
John O’Donnell, CEO, The Michaels Org. Photo by Holly Dutton

“Our greatest asset is our employees. Everyone says it, it’s a great tagline, but not everyone does it.” 

So stated John O’Donnell, CEO of The Michaels Organization, at the event honoring the 2019 winners of the Commercial Property Executive Distinguished Achievement Awards and the Multi-Housing News Excellence Awards in New York City.

  • Click here for the complete list of CPE Distinguished Achievement Awards winners
  • Click here for the complete list of MHN Excellence Awards winners

In his keynote address on Thursday evening, O’Donnell talked about some of the measures taken by the Camden, N.J.-based firm to put the needs of people and communities first, such as offering educational grants to its employees and residents and holding a detailed, biennial employee survey designed to identify problem areas.

“The goal isn’t to make money,” the executive noted. “The goal is to treat your employees well, to have that system in place where the employees feel safety going out a little bit further, doing the extraordinary every single day. And all that creates bottom-line stuff.”

The full-service property firm, which has more than $4.5 billion in assets and serves more than 135,000 residents in 370 rental communities, isn’t afraid of criticism. As part of its unending quest improvement, The Michaels Organization “focuses on the negative” when canvassing its employees every two years, O’Donnell pointed out.

“Think about that for a second. Who celebrates a failure?” he said. “You’re celebrating risk, you’re giving people that safe environment—go out there, take risks. Go try something new.”

Celebrating a year of achievement

Guests attending the CPE Distinguished Achievement Awards and MHN Excellence Awards in New York City. Photo by Holly Dutton

That bold, self-critical approach has served The Michaels Organization well, but the event held at 10 Grand Central, a Midtown Manhattan office tower, decidedly focused on success—including that of O’Donnell, who was honored as Executive of the Year.

Commercial Property Executive and Multi-Housing News handed out awards recognizing dozens of professionals and companies for their exceptional accomplishments. Entries were judged by a panel of distinguished senior industry professionals in a wide range of project categories ranging from adaptive reuse to unbuilt design and such professional categories as property manager and rising star.

Some 150 guests attended the reception, which was hosted in the seventh-floor amenity space at the recently renovated 35-story Art Deco tower located at 155 E. 44th St. The building’s owner, New York City-based Marx Realty, added the 7,500-square-foot indoor/outdoor lounge, terrace and conference space featuring a hotel-like ambience, as part of a $48 million repositioning of the Ely Jacques Kahn-designed property.