Izzy grew up in Chicago working in a toy factory next to Wrigley Field. As fans roared outside the warehouse he tucked toys into boxes, took inventory and completed orders. Years later and living in LA during a recession, Izzy noticed empty warehouses and pondered revenue potential. These buildings were nothing fancy. They rattled directly under the LAX runways. But from years in industrial real-estate, Izzy saw an opportunity to manage these buildings, easing landlords' pain and perhaps acquire some property. After managing, Izzy purchased some buildings and settled in.
One sunny day as planes rumbled in for a landing, Izzy realized his rooftops could be seen by the passengers. He had his second business. In a few short months, Izzy partnered with CBRE to contract rooftops around the world.
What’s your favorite word?
My book, the Rebel and the Rabbi’s Son.
What’s one unfair advantage and one unexpected mishap?
Unfair advantage: LAX area is is rich with opportunity.
Mishap: I didn’t count on a recession which very successful entrepreneurs prepare for! Whatever emergency reserves you put away, double or triple it.
How did acquiring buildings start?
I wanted to own buildings.
I wanted to create revenue.
There were a lot of absentee owners in the LAX flight path and the revenue from tenants was drying up. I knew I could fill buildings. On 8.8.88 I established The Oakstone Company, a brokerage and development company. I’d pay the rent but the key agreement in each contract was that I had the option to purchase the building. Owners took years before they exercised that option. I tell ya, they didn’t want to sell!
What did it take?
Relieving landlords of their headache.
You mean liability?
Give an example.
In one instance, a tenant used particular chemicals to dye denim so I took the owner on a walkthrough. He smelled the stench, saw the manufacturing mess and made me the landlord.
Did you evict them?
No. The whole mix that turned a pair of pants into blue jeans just wasn’t working. The owner sold me the building and the company went out of business.
What’s the general rent for an LAX warehouse?
Buck fifty per square foot, per month: A ten thousand square foot warehouse will pay $15,000 a month.
Who moved in?
Barry Manilow and his business partner, Gary Kief.
Garry’s a brilliant promotor and Barry is a genius at arranging entertainment for cruise lines. They needed a space to choreograph, rehearse and store props.
How'd they find you?
Gary saw a “for lease” sign on one of my buildings in West LA. At first he didn’t want to be near the airport but after a walkthrough, voila.
Are they still your tenants?
No.Two years ago I sold them the building!
Tell me about the billboards.
In 2008-2009 I was standing outside one of my warehouses under LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) and realized my fifth wall was prime advertising real-estate. I approached CBS and talked to the person who controls the marketing for their all shows and pitched them the idea of rooftop billboards. The Amazing Race promos were such a huge hit all the other networks wanted to advertise too. TNT advertised for Mob City. Supergirl. Bernie's campaign.
I eventually partnered with CBRE to provide advertising rooftops all over the world. A production company needs a rooftop in Paris? We’ve got you covered. It snowballed. People realized it was an untapped marketing venue. In September 2015 CBRE negotiated rooftop advertising deal for Star Trek in Los Angeles's International Airport industrial facility.
Did the neighbors catch on?
Neighbors HAVE caught on! I have calls coming in all the time asking what companies need rooftop advertising. We generate a contract between the advertisers and property owners.
The tipping point?
Variety published an add with their Amazing Race billboard on my building.
Today, are you more focused on the rooftop business or the original inside warehouse leasing?
I still run both. It’s an inside and outside job.