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Joe Rossi, Colliers International

In all things there is rhythm -- seasons, stages of development, cycles that repeat. This is as true in commercial real estate as anywhere else, and for two-and-a-half years a predominant rhythm in Joe Rossi’s life has been the cycle of investment property sales for Colliers International in Orlando.

Building to crescendo, as well, has been his activity within NAIOP’s Central Florida Chapter, which Rossi will lead in the coming year.  

“My involvement has ramped up over time,” he told GrowthSpotter in a recent interview. “I started on the Board of Directors in 2012, but before that I would do a lot of networking events, submit for awards, things like that.”

It’s a slow climb that has paid off: Rossi is now the NAIOP chapter’s president-elect with the lead position on tap for 2018. He and colleagues on the Board have a primary goal of growing membership, specifically principal members, in the new year.

Everyone has a role to play in the organization’s growth. There’s a rhythm to that as well, and who better to take up the cause of shoring up NAIOP’s base than someone who holds his own on the electric bass?

A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Rossi has been playing guitar since he was a kid.

One of seven siblings, Rossi’s family wasn’t quite Partridge-level, “but most everyone played an instrument either in the band, jazz band and other bands growing up.”

His foray into the rhythm section is bass guitar and upright bass. It began when his brother, a drummer, had been jamming with a bassist friend who conveniently left his instrument behind. Rossi picked it up, and the rest is musical history.

“My brother was in town for Thanksgiving, actually, and I have a drum set in my house, so we were jamming for quite a bit. My son has picked it up, too – he plays guitar and drums – so we had some fun over the holidays.”

Rossi grew up playing everything – from blues to rock and roll and everything in between.

“In high school I was in the jazz band and marching band, too. I played electric bass in the marching band; you don’t see that very often!”

Music was so much a part of his life, it was the focus of his early college career – and how an Iowa boy finally made it out of the snow.

“I got a scholarship to study jazz at UNF in Jacksonville,” he explains. “College was a lot more jazz-focused, but I did everything from playing jazz in the lounge of the Ritz Carlton to show bands where we’d play for all the Jaguars’ home games, to opening for the Steve Miller Band.”

Music seemed like it was going to be Rossi’s career, but having kids at a young age sparked a change in tack.

“I had to grow up and make a more consistent living,” he laughs. “I went back to UNF and got an accounting degree.”

Commercial real estate followed soon after, beginning with stints at Koger Equity and later The St. Joe Company up in Jacksonville – while still staying active musically. After a 2001 move to Orlando, Rossi lost many of the musical connections he’d forged in Jacksonville.

“People could just call me up and ask if I could play that weekend,” he laughs. “But I have made some connections down here and these days music is a release for me, like meditation. Jazz is really good for that.”

Jazz still looms large on Rossi’s playlists, but like most musicians his tastes run the gamut. When we spoke, he was amped to be seeing both the Grateful Dead and John Mayer in the coming week.

“I enjoy improvisational musicians,” he explains. “Hearing it played the same way I hear it on the radio isn’t that exciting for me.”

What is exciting, though, is sharing the arts with his children.

Rossi’s daughter Alexa, 23, is a dancer who’s been venturing into choreography lately, and son Connor, 21, is a senior at UCF. After a Thanksgiving jam session, they’ve been tossing around the idea of starting a band together – a trio – but Connor is still on track to finish with a degree in electrical engineering.

“He said, ‘Dad, you know – I want to get a degree where I can make a decent living. And I don’t need to study music to play it,’” Rossi laughs. “So – smart kid!”

A.D. Thompson
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