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Making deals by the numbers

Daniel Goldstein believes in preparation. He feels it is often the key to success.

“I don’t like being unprepared,” Goldstein says. “I like being overly prepared.”

Goldstein, 45, has used that philosophy to grow Royal Oak Realty Trust Inc., a private real estate investment trust that acquires and operates commercial real estate.

He started the business in 2013 with the late Laurence Glazer, who was president and CEO of Buckingham Properties LLC.

The REIT was originally Buckingham Properties Net Leased Properties Group, separate from Rochester-based Buckingham Properties, but with shared office space and overhead.

In 2015, the REIT rebranded and changed its name to Royal Oak. Its current portfolio consists of 12 properties in five states, totaling roughly $61 million of gross asset value and 1 million square feet.

Goldstein, president and CEO, says he has laid the groundwork for what he believes can be a hugely successful business.

“I’m really excited to have so much opportunity,” he says. “We know our strategy is right on.”

A start in accounting
Goldstein originally thought he would become a lawyer, but decided to follow in the footsteps of his father, William Goldstein, and pursue a career in public accounting.

The elder Goldstein had owned a public accounting firm in Rochester. His son liked the idea of having a satisfying career that still allowed him ample time for family.

Education was a priority in the Goldstein home. His late mother, Rhoda, was an educator in Brighton. Goldstein was the youngest of three boys. His older brothers have careers in law and finance.

Goldstein earned a bachelor in general studies degree from the University of Michigan in 1993.

He liked the general studies degree in college because it allowed him to take his general classes in conjunction with finance and accounting courses before sitting for the certified public accounting exam.

He returned to Rochester after college and started a career as a public accountant with his dad at Goldstein and Fredericksen LLP.

His father said his son was always welcome at the family firm, but he never pushed, Goldstein recalls.

Goldstein practiced public accounting for 11 years, becoming a company partner for the last four years.

A new path
Goldstein had early aspirations to run his own business, but was not looking for a new job when a family friend, Richard Glazer, said his dad was looking for a finance guy.

Goldstein was intrigued and went to speak with Laurence Glazer. At the time, he did not even have a resume. Goldstein liked what Glazer had to say.

“I had never really thought about leaving public accounting, but real estate was such an exciting industry and Larry was, at the time, an up-and-comer,” Goldstein says.

He was also a deal maker who excelled in that area but was less interested in the day-to-day business operations. That was where Goldstein came in.

It took nearly a year for Goldstein to land the job. In 2004, he was named Buckingham’s chief financial officer.

Goldstein credits a few mentors he has looked up to when it comes to his business success.

An athlete at Brighton High School who wrestled and played football and baseball, Goldstein recalls one coach, Mark Hoyt, who showed him the importance of traits such as determination and toughness.

“It wasn’t just about physical toughness, it was about mental toughness too,” Goldstein recalls. 

Goldstein also was able to look to his father as a role model where he saw a focus on honesty and integrity.

Glazer, too, was someone for whom Goldstein had a great deal of respect. Glazer taught him how to take risks.

A framed picture of Glazer talking on the telephone is among the several family pictures Goldstein has on display in his office.

“It’s Larry on the phone making a deal,” Goldstein says. “That was him.”

The two complemented each other, Goldstein says.

One was a serial entrepreneur; the other a traditional accountant. And while Goldstein leaned more toward a conservative approach, Glazer’s laser focus was on landing the next deal.

Goldstein flourished at Buckingham. He was named a partner in the company in 2007 and was part of the Rochester Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2009.

Knowing he wanted another professional challenge, he spoke to Glazer about his options. Glazer encouraged Goldstein to develop a REIT that he could run while still being a part of Buckingham.

At the beginning, the REIT hired Buckingham Properties to provide its property management services.

Over time, Goldstein began to focus more on the REIT and less on Buckingham’s traditional development side of the business.

When the opportunity to redevelop the Midtown Plaza site downtown came up, Goldstein recalls saying he would pass on working on the deal.

“I didn’t want to be distracted from what I was doing,” he says of his work with the REIT.

In true Glazer fashion, however, he encouraged Goldstein to get more in-volved, not less, with Buckingham’s development deals.

“He wanted me involved,” Goldstein says. “It was the greatest compliment he gave me.”

Difficult times
Then the unthinkable happened.

Glazer died Sept. 5, 2014, when the private plane he and his wife, Jane Glazer, were traveling in to Naples, Fla., crashed off the coast of Jamaica.

With no business succession plan in place, those at Buckingham were not only dealing with an unfathomable personal loss, they were also faced with how to move forward with a business that in many people’s eyes was a one-man show.

Goldstein admits it was a tough time; emotions were running high and things could get contentious.

Goldstein and Buckingham went to court over the REIT, as well as Buckingham’s Alexander Park property in the city, before reaching a private settlement last fall that kept it in the Buckingham portfolio.

Goldstein sold his share of Alexander Park to developer Robert Morgan. He sold his interests in other Buckingham projects to Glazer’s estate.

Glazer’s estate, in turn, sold its interest in the REIT, but remains an investor. 

“It would have been almost impossible to get a storybook ending,” Goldstein says, noting that everyone involved in Buckingham tried to do their best, including him. “It wasn’t one person’s fault.”

He left Buckingham after Glazer’s death to focus on Royal Oak. Shortly after, the property management agreement with Buckingham Properties was terminated and Cambridge Street Property Management LLC was formed as an affiliate of Royal Oak to take over its property management services.  

Growth at Royal Oak
Royal Oak owns five buildings in Rochester, two in Michigan, two in Ohio, and one each in Buffalo, Illinois and Alabama.

The business looks for industrial and office properties.

The six-person business is looking to grow in terms of employees and properties owned, Goldstein says. He plans to add two to three more employees over the next year and is looking at the Atlanta market as a potential location for more properties.

At Royal Oak, Goldstein looks for people who are smart and care about what they are doing. He also wants employees to feel good about their work and spearheads activities to foster a sense of community.

The staff participates in activities outside the office, from wine tours to putting contests.

“There’s no worse feeling in life, or in business, than feeling you’re being taken advantage of,” he says.

Goldstein likes the fact that he can marry his love of finance and analysis with personal interaction on the job.

The unpredictability of the industry is something Goldstein is getting used to, noting there is no one entity that has control over what will happen since there are always two parties involved in a deal.

There is also limited time to savor victory.

“By the time you are finishing one deal, you are already moving on to the next one,” he says. “There’s not a lot of time to enjoy your successes.”

Thomas Bonadio has worked with Goldstein for the past four years.

They met through Glazer. Bonadio joined the REIT’s board of directors at Buckingham and continues as a board member at Royal Oak.

He describes Goldstein as a “very solid, really smart guy” who knows the real estate business.

“He knows how to negotiate a good deal and how to finance a good deal,” Bonadio says.

He is impressed with the work Goldstein has done at Royal Oak, including building the management team and continuing to find new deals, Bonadio says. He would not be surprised if Royal Oak is one day as successful as other similar yet larger firms in the region.

“Dan is capable of bringing it to that level,” Bonadio says.

David Dworkin, managing partner of LLD Enterprises Inc. and an owner of the Rochester Rhinos with his wife, Wendy, has known Goldstein for more than 20 years.

Goldstein and Wendy Dworkin have been friends since childhood and Goldstein’s father was Wendy Dworkin’s father’s accountant.

Goldstein also has been David Dworkin’s accountant and the two, along with partners, own some retail properties.

Dworkin has been a good friend over the years and someone he has turned to for professional advice, Goldstein says.

Dworkin describes Goldstein as an incredibly bright person with a lot of drive who understands numbers and how to analyze them. Goldstein is also open to listening to others’ points of view, he adds.

“He’s a great business partner and a great friend,” Dworkin says.

Off the job
Goldstein lives in Brighton with his wife, Victoria, and the couple’s two children: son, Dylan, 13, and daughter, Sophie, 11.

The family recently purchased a property in the Southern Tier, fulfilling what Goldstein calls a lifelong dream.

The 160-acre property includes a wooden A-frame house, which the couple has decorated with antiques they enjoy collecting, and a barn.

An outdoorsman, he enjoys hiking, fishing and riding all-terrain vehicles, all of which he gets to do at the property.

He most enjoys the feeling of freedom.

“When you’re on the trails riding an ATV, you’re completely focused on what you’re doing,” he says. “It’s one of the few times you’re completely in the moment.”

Daniel Goldstein
Title: President and CEO, Royal Oak Realty Trust Inc.
Age: 45
Education:  Bachelor of General Studies degree, University of Michigan, 1993
Residence: Brighton
Family: Wife, Victoria; son, Dylan, 13; daughter, Sophie, 11
Hobbies: Being outdoors, hiking, fishing, riding all-terrain vehicles
Quote: “I’m really excited to have so much opportunity.”

7/1/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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