There never was really any question that Ed Roski Jr., was going to get into real estate. As a young boy, he tagged along while his father toured industrial properties and brokered deals. Ed Sr. had launched his firm, Majestic Realty Co., in southern California in 1948 after a stint in the U.S. Navy. Ed Jr. came on board in 1966, after serving for five years as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam, where he earned two purple hearts.
At the time, Majestic was just starting to segue from brokerage into industrial development, which has remained the firm's focus ever since. Now, as Majestic kicks off its 60th anniversary, it has grown to become the largest private owner of industrial space in the country. Though he didn't officially take over as CEO until 2002, Ed Roski Jr. has had a leadership role at Majestic since the mid-1980s.
Besides industrial, which comprises about 93% of Majestic's 70 million sq. ft. portfolio, the company has office, hospitality and retail assets, including the prized Staples Center in Los Angeles, developed in 1999. To help swing the deal, Roski bought a piece of the action, becoming a minority owner in the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings, two of the teams that play in the arena.
Over the last 10 years, Roski has doubled the size of Majestic's portfolio by honing in on several key markets — Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Atlanta and Dallas — and playing for keeps, cultivating long-term deals with brand-name tenants, maintaining ownership of its properties and becoming entrenched in the communities in which it operates. The company handles everything from architecture to property management in-house, and counts on employees to make on-the-ground decisions.
“If you empower people and they think they can make a difference, they usually do,” Roski says. “Being a privately held company helps us out a lot. We're more interested in long-term value as opposed to having to make quarterly earnings.”
At 68, the busy executive shows no signs of slowing down. He has climbed to base camp at Mt. Everest, K2, and Mt. Kilimanjaro, ridden his bike across Mongolia and Russia, and even explored the wreckage of the Titantic. Space travel is next on the developer's list. He's also an avid collector of African and Aboriginal art.
Exposure to other cultures makes him a better leader, Roski explains. “Forty years ago, everything was local,” he says. “Today, with the way the capital markets are, and with manufacturing, having a good understanding of the world helps because everything is international.”
His daughters Reon and Katrina work at the company. Reon serves as corporate counsel and Katrina works in retail leasing. Until the next generation may take over, Roski says he plans to do what he has always done: seek out and jump on opportunities. “In my 40-some-odd years in real estate, there have always been doors that have opened and doors that have closed,” he says. “You can't bounce around. It's very important to have a plan and stick to it, so you can take advantage of the opportunities that are there. In good markets and bad, there are always opportunities.”