On Thursday, January 30th and Friday, January 31st, I joined Mr. Jim Petrucci ’86 at his real estate firm J.G. Petrucci & Co. J.G. Petrucci maintains a unique platform in the real estate market, as the firm acts as a Design/Build developer. In other words, the firm acts as a one-stop shop for any client that needs help in locating land and designing and constructing a building specific to their needs. The firm’s projects include office, industrial, medical, educational, and retail facilities, primarily serving markets in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, particularly the Lehigh Valley. While J.G. Petrucci & Co. focuses on the design and leasing side of the business, Mr. Petrucci also owns Iron Hill Construction Management Co., which is the firm responsible for construction and physical structures for clients.
I spent most of my first day at J.G. Petrucci & Co. observing the firm’s preparation for a budget meeting with a client. On the morning of January 30th, I drove from my home in Basking Ridge, NJ, to the headquarters of J.G. Petrucci & Co. in Asbury, NJ. As I walked into the office at 7 am, I first met Michael Schwertfeger, the firm’s financial manager who maintains and ensures the accuracy of all financial transactions. Mr. Schwertfeger wasted no time in including me, as I immediately joined him on a phone call with a construction manager at Iron Hill. The primary focus of the meeting was to ensure that the numbers of Mr. Schwertfeger and Iron Hill were consistent before we met with the client for the construction budget meeting.
On my second day, I joined Mr. Petrucci to visit one of his properties in Pennsylvania. After driving for about an hour, we arrived at a strip mall owned by J.G. Petrucci & Co., and toured the premises with a local broker. The broker informed Mr. Petrucci of the upcoming lease expiration dates for a few tenants in the mall, and discussed a potential tenant who was interested in taking a vacant location in the mall to establish a bakery/eat-in shop. After touring the premises, we drove to a nearby office of J.G. Petrucci & Co. and met with a pair of brokers to discuss potential properties for the firm to explore in the local area for investment. After the meeting, we drove back to the Asbury office, where I thanked him for the informative experience before we parted ways for the weekend.
Studying Operations Research and planning to obtain a certificate in finance, I have become increasingly interested in exploring different sectors that comprise the broad field of investment management. My time with Mr. Petrucci provided me a revealing experience into real estate equity as an asset class. Spending time with the team at J.G. Petrucci & Co. made me realize that work within real estate is ever changing, as professionals must constantly adjust to the various economic, structural, and qualitative characteristics of their clients. Also, I now see buildings as more than brick and mortar. Whether it is a multi-family complex, an office, a hotel, or a retail mall, a building is an asset that generates cash flow that provides a return on capital for its owner. J.G. Petrucci & Co. has thrived and expanded over the last twenty-seven years by helping its clients meet their goals while maintaining a successful return on capital for the company. On our car ride back from Pennsylvania, Mr. Petrucci told me that if one is smart and patient – patient to wait out the time for a building to deliver positive returns – then real estate can be a wonderful investment strategy as compared to stocks or other securities. I will certainly be keeping that in mind as I continue to explore different areas of investment management, and financial services more broadly, in trying to discern an initial direction upon graduation from Princeton.