The day before we interviewed Robin Webb, he was in New York City.
Travel is something he does an awful lot of late as the new president of the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) Institute and that’s not surprising, considering the 50-year-old organization has some 13,500 members. The education it proffers – everything from financial analysis to feasibility of projects to gaps in the markets – is world-class.
Its CCIM chapters are located in roughly 30 countries around the world. The association will teach in 10 foreign countries this year including China, Taiwan and Russia.
Living in a whirlwind of travel requires rhythm, of course, and Webb – who is also a principal and managing director for Central Florida’s NAI Realvest – has that in spades. In fact, it was the primary required skill in his very first job: rock drummer.
Webb grew up in Miami amid tight financial constraints. After getting his start with percussion in the school band, he found a way to monetize and began working professionally at age 14.
“I was working weekend gigs, private parties…. I started in night clubs when I was 16.”
Webb supported himself playing music, even going out on the road for a time, and did so through college, eventually completing his undergrad work at Georgia State. While at school, he found what would become his calling: the hospitality industry.
It was a business in which his attentiveness and focus paid off. By age 24, he was the general manager of a 293-room hotel on Daytona Beach – and from there, ever higher. At 26, he was the vice president of operations for a regional hotel management company, running 28 properties across the country. Hospitality, he says, is a special industry with exceptional employees.
“They have a strange investment,” he says. “People outside the industry don’t really recognize how invested most hotel executives – most hotel employees are, for that matter – in their property. You really commit your life to that business and it’s great fun. It’s a great reward!"
Webb had more than 3,000 employees beneath his territorial umbrella; he believes it’s any manager’s job to stay in touch with the day-to-day of business operations. He subscribes to the statement that you should never ask anyone to do what you’re not willing to do. As such, he’s tackled every job there is to do in a hotel – and he did it on his own time.
“It was all about building my own knowledge base,” he explains. “I think doing what other people do, learning it from the true, grassroots level, gives you an incredible appreciation for it. It helps develop your loyalty to them and vice versa. The loyalty and respect that flow from knowledge of one another, as well as the process and the job is almost immeasurable.”
Running hotels, though, leaves an executive very little time at home. And so after six years, Webb made the transition to real estate. No surprise, selling hotels is his specialty. A background running them is something that few people in his field possess – and it’s something he believes informs his role in sales.
Between his job with NAI Realvest and his CCMI presidency, Webb still has little free time, but he’s been living in Orlando for 37 years – and he does like taking advantage of what the city affords.
“Orlando is a great city…. It has a friendliness to it, and a multiplicity of things going on at the same time. And I don’t think it gets enough recognition for being more than the attractions. We have a great climate, a great location at the crossroads of the state, a great airport in a city that’s progressive in wanting to grow in the right ways.
“I am an evangelist for Orlando,” he says, adding that the day before, back in New York City, it was cold and rainy with gale-force wintry winds. “It’s one of my favorite places on Earth. And I love coming home to it.”
-- A.D. Thompson, GrowthSpotter contributor