Brooklyn, NY - The Real Deal Profiles Orthodox Mortgage Lender Ralph Herzka
Brooklyn, NY - Meridian Capital Group CEO Ralph Herzka, 53, is at the top of his game and may even be working on taking his company public according to a profile in The Real Deal (http://bit.ly/1R8UwLa ).
Over the past 20 years, Herzka has taken his company to the next level, most recently introducing an investment sales division and brokering 4,000 transactions worth $30 billion.
Meridian has over 250 employees in its New York City headquarters and offices in six states. Its competitors say the firm holds an eye-popping 15 percent of the market share in New York.
In interviews with Herzka’s clients, brokers, and colleagues, a picture of a man with a relentless appetite for his business emerges, even to the exclusion of his family or social obligations. “When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like hard work,” Herzka told The Real Deal. “We’ve hired a team that is the best in the business at both managing our firm’s volume and delivering for our clients.”
But some former Meridian employees described the working environment as a “boiler room” where junior brokers with almost no formal business education work the phones, while senior brokers with MBAs, work in silence. “Herzka is not shy to use some negative motivation when he has to,” one source said.
A Borough Park native, Herzka got his start as a principal in Gelt Funding in the 1980s, which would later become Allen Gross’ GFI Capital Resources Group. Soon after, Gelt was sued by First Nationwide Bank for misrepresenting property values to secure non-recourse loans; a suit which was eventually dismissed. In 1991, Herzka and other Gelt executives left the company to form Meridian. Herzka’s partners, Aaron Birnbaum, Avi Weinstock, and Jeff Weinberg oversee different aspects of the firm, but Herzka is the company’s main broker. In 2013, Meridian came in second among top large-loan brokerage companies, bringing in an estimated $5.47 billion in deals. Its biggest clients include The Chetrit Group, the Pinnacle Group, and Kushner Cos.
Herzka’s competitors say they’ve had dealings with him at some point because of “their [Meridian’s] sheer size and style of marketing,” adding “Ralph is moving upstream and is leaving a lot of business open for his competition. You can’t do $120 million in business a day, which is his motto, and also do $2 million deals.”
Yet, Herzka’s reputation as a fierce competitor only drives him to work even harder. He has sought to instill that kind of attitude into his employees, creating a new official mantra of “Eat. Sleep. Close. Repeat.” Herzka has called Meridian a “high energy business” and stresses the importance of having young brokers, but according to an employee of Meridian, it’s “a workday that most people could not endure.”
Still, Herzka does take some time out for charity events, like Camp Simcha’s annual Bike4Chai ride. Herzka had pledged to meet his fundraising goal of $10,000 for the upcoming August ride, but has already raised $150,000 to benefit the camp for sick children thanks to the support of his top clients.
It remains to be seen if Herzka’s next move will include taking Meridian public. A Meridian spokesperson denied the rumored IPO saying there were no such plans, but that “the company would not rule out accessing the debt or equity markets to spawn continued growth at an appropriate time in the future.”
More of today's headlines“Paris - Jordanian authorities have arrested a suspected member of a Palestinian guerrilla unit behind an attack on a Jewish restaurant in France in 1982 that killed six...” Paris - Top Suspect Arrested In 1982 Attack On Paris Jewish Quarter “Gaza - It's not quite a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but shared concern over Islamic State-inspired militant groups in Gaza could help redraw complex...” Gaza - Long-Term Gaza Truce Mooted As Hamas, Israel Grapple With Jihadi Challenge