It’s hard to know what to expect from Arizona’s economy in 2023. The labor market remains very tight, with low unemployment, high levels of labor market churn, and a tremendous number of open jobs. But any income gains we are making are more than offset by inflation. Rising mortgage interest rates and low affordability have combined to generate a decline in home sales. But as venture deeper into 2023, one thing is certain: Arizona is filled with brilliant minds and innovative companies that are certain to guide us through any economic storms that come our way. That’s why we created the AZ Big 100: The 100 Arizona commercial real estate companies and people to watch in 2023.

The editorial board for Az Business and AZRE magazines met with Arizona industry leaders to identify the AZ Big 100 for 2023: The 100 people and companies who will shape Arizona’s business community in 2023. Today, meet 25 male leaders to watch in CRE for 2023 (in alphabetical order).

AZ Big 100 coverage

Monday, Jan. 16: 25 women business leaders to watch in 2023

Tuesday, Jan. 17: 25 male business leaders to watch in 2023

Wednesday, Jan. 18: 50 commercial real estate companies to watch in 2023

Thursday, Jan. 19: 25 women commercial real estate leaders to watch in 2023

Friday, Jan. 20: 25 male commercial real estate leaders to watch in 2023

Saturday, Jan. 21: 50 Arizona businesses to watch in 2023

John Carlson

President // Mark-Taylor Companies

“Lead with authenticity and transparency,” says the president of Mark-Taylor. “Mark-Taylor is a home for team members, not just residents. It’s important to inspire and invoke trusting connections. Trust your people. When team members are given opportunities to take ownership, they’re more engaged and everyone benefits.”

Bob Bambauer

Executive vice president // Sunbelt Holdings 

Currently, Bambauer is overseeing development at one of Sunbelt’s newer assets at the PVI303 Industrial Park in Goodyear, Arizona. Bob will continue to be involved in any future residential and commercial properties in the West Valley.

Steve Betts

Managing director of development // Holualoa Companies 

Betts is managing director of development for Holualoa Companies, which is a prominent portfolio of commercial properties throughout the Phoenix and Tucson markets as part of its national and international real estate holdings.

Tim Brislin

Senior vice president // Harvard Investments 

Brislin oversees new acquisitions, including project identification, funding, negotiations, legal, entitlement and closings. He leads his project management team in overseeing pre-construction, construction and ongoing growth and maintenance responsibilities. Brislin got his start in real estate in his hometown of Philadelphia.

Scott Cook

Principal // MEB Management Services

Cook spent 15 years with Greystar Real Estate Partners in a variety of roles, primarily serving as the CFO of the property management division of the company overseeing in excess of 400,000 units and more than 4,000 people.

Brandon Dillingham

Managing director // Hines

Dillingham oversees commercial real estate development for Hines in Arizona and New Mexico. The firm’s current property and asset management portfolio includes 512 properties, representing more than 223 million square feet.  Historically, Hines has developed, redeveloped or acquired 1,348 properties.

Nicholaus Fischer

Executive vice president // Merit Partners

Nicholaus Fischer

Fischer started his career at First Industrial Realty Trust as an Analyst and through his five years with the company expanded his role into execution of development, investment, leasing, and property management. In 2010, Fischer was one of the founding members of Merit Partners and utilizing his variety of skills is an integral part of all operations and services that Merit provides to their customers. This includes development oversight, portfolio management, finance, and client management. The current Merit portfolio consists of 9.9 million square feet, which is home to 47 tenants. He has diverse experience in dispositions, acquisitions, and development totaling more than a billion dollars of total transaction volume. The Merit Partners team has been ranked the No. 1 Commercial – Industrial Developer from 2016 – 2020. Some of their notable projects recently have been the Woolf Logistics Park which includes a three-building complex totaling more than 2.3 million square feet and over $800 million total cost in addition to the Mark Anthony Brewing (White Claw) facility totaling just on 900,000 SF with another $400 million in capex.

Currently they have several sites and buildings in various stages of construction and entitlement including Camelback 303 (3 Buildings – 1.7M SF), PV303, Buckeye Industrial Park, Merit Sky Harbor Industrial Park Woolf Logistics, and Legacy Logistics Park.

Originally from Park City, Utah, Fischer graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California with a BA in Business Administration. Currently, Fischer is serving on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for Valley Partnership. He is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP). Nic was a member of the NAIOP Developing Leaders Steering Committee in its inaugural year for the Arizona Chapter and has a real estate sales agent license in Arizona.

Grant Fisher

President // VAI Global Development 

Fisher is president of VAI Global Development, the Arizona-based ownership company that is developing and managing VAI Resort, the $1 billion, 60-acre luxurious retreat that will be the largest resort in Arizona.  

Josh Hartmann

CEO // NexMetro 

Alongside his business partners and company founders, Hartmann has has used more that 20 years of experience to innovate the new housing lifestyle of detached, professionally managed, rental home neighborhoods, by creating places that people are excited about and want to call home.

Zach Haptonstall

Co-founder and CEO // Rise 48

Haptonstall’s main responsibilities as CEO include overseeing all acquisitions, sourcing capital, and building strategic partnerships. Since 2019, Rise48 Equity has completed more than $1,725,751,000 in total transactions, and currently has $1,285,186,000 of assets under management.

Mathias Hughes

Vice president and investment officer // Prologis

Since 2020, Mathias Hughes, vice president and investment officer for Prologis, has completed several build-to-suit deals involving more than 2.4 million square feet. Alongside his team, Hughes acquired — or ground leased — approximately 400 acres of strategic land as well as $160 million in operating real estate.

Mathias Hughes

In 2022 alone, Hughes and his team added five buildings, totaling close to 2 million square feet, on the books for Greater Phoenix. 

“This not only allows us to continue to grow and serve our customer base, but also to invest more than $300 million in sustainable and modern development,” Hughes says. “I joined our Phoenix team in April 2022 and couldn’t be happier to be working in such a welcoming, dynamic city.”

Looking ahead, Hughes — like many other leaders in his field — is braced for change, but also remains hopeful for what’s to come. 

“2023 presents an interesting opportunity in the marketplace,” he says. “In a rising-interest-rate environment, several trends are emerging in the market — namely the pace of development regressing to a more sustainable pace.”

Adds Hughes, “In 2023, we believe that leasing momentum will start to normalize as customers have more options in the marketplace. The more interesting thing, however, is that the market has continued to move rapidly, and I believe accurately assessing price and risk will be the key to investing wisely.”

Learn more:

John Kinser

Director of commercial real estate // Enterprise Bank & Trust

While studying finance at ASU, John Kinser had the opportunity to intern with a national mortgage banking firm.

John Kinser

“I was instantly hooked,” says the director of commercial real estate for Enterprise Bank & Trust. “The process of identifying risk, mitigating that risk with structure, all while meeting the needs of the borrower and the lender, is a creative endeavor, an endeavor which still gets me excited, deal after deal. No two projects are the same. After 20 years in the industry, I can honestly say that I learn something new every day.”

Coming into 2022, Kinser and his team anticipated much of the interest rate volatility we are experiencing today.

“To help our clients mitigate this risk, we developed and implemented a new program which allowed our clients to execute transactions with confidence, while maintaining the flexibility they have come to expect from Enterprise,” he says. “It was a win-win solution for our clients and the bank.”

It’s that entrepreneurial spirit combined with deep industry knowledge and experience that separates Enterprise from its competitors when it comes to commercial real estate lending.

“From the loan officer to the CCO, every associate in the approval chain has worked on the front line, most in the CRE space,” Kinser says. “This translates to speed, flexibility and surety of execution. We understand the business and work hard to deliver project specific solutions, rather than cookie-cutter, grid-based terms.”

Learn more:

Trevor Koskovich

President of investment sales // NorthMarq

Koskovich leads Northmarq’s investment sales business, which started in 2018 and now offers services across the U.S. from 22 offices. He is responsible for growing the platform to nearly $12 billion in transaction volume and more than 100 brokers and support staff.

Kent Lane

Supplier diversity and community outreach manager // McCarthy Building Companies

In his role, Lane brings 15 years of public service and community outreach experience to help further expand McCarthy’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for the company’s Southwest Region.

Jeff Moloznik

Senior vice president of development // RED Development

Moloznik’s responsibilities include public and private financing, entitlements, tenant relations, design oversight, construction coordination, marketing, community outreach, and governmental relations. He is on the Valley Partnership and NAIOP boards.

Carlos Munoz

Founder and owner // Pimmex Contracting

PIMMEX Contracting Corporation was founded by Munoz in 2008. His vision was founded on the principal to give back to his ethnic community, and it is evident in the company’s name PIMMEX (Pima/Mexican.) The company currently employs more than 50% minorities.

Francis Najafi

Founder and CEO // Pivotal Group

Najafi is founder and CEO of Pivotal Group, a 30-year-old investment firm with extensive experience in private equity investments, and all major real estate product types. Pivotal’s real estate investments have included major hotel properties. 

John Orsak

Vice president // LPC Desert West

Orsak is a 15-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry. In his current role at LPC Desert West, Orsak heads leasing, acquisitions and dispositions, project management, and property management for Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico.

CJ Osbrink

Executive managing director // Newmark

As a member of Newmark’s expanding West Coast Capital Markets team, Osbrink has more than 15 years of experience in office and retail investment sales throughout Arizona, Southern California, Nevada and Hawaii. He helped sell Raintree Corporate Center III & IV for $91.7 million.

Mike Pask

Director of multifamily housing // CHASSE Building Team

In the leadership role he took on in 2022, Pask oversees CHASSE’s multifamily projects, including The Fillmore, Formation and The Crossing at Cooley Station. CHASSE’s multifamily division has tripled in recent years, so much so they built this position just for Pask.

Kelly Pettigrew

Regional vice president // FCL Builders

Kelly Pettigrew was destined to be a leader in commercial real estate.

Kelly Pettigrew

“I grew up around construction,” says the regional vice president of FCL Builders. “Most of my family was involved in construction one way or another.  I worked on crews during my summers in high school and was just naturally drawn to the industry.”

It didn’t hurt that Pettigrew is very inquisitive by nature.

“As a kid, I always liked to know how things worked,” he says. “If something broke, I would take it apart and try to fix it. I just seemed destined to be a contractor.”

Pettigrew’s destiny led him to open the Arizona office for FCL in April of 2021 and it has been non-stop ever since. 

“We were just starting to get our feet under us as a region when 2022 started,” Pettigrew says. “Our backlog of awarded work was growing pretty rapidly, so I was hiring quite a few new employees. It is cliché to say you are most proud of your team, but I truly am really proud of how everyone on my team stepped up given the newness of our office and company in the Arizona market. Our team gelled quickly and worked hard to make sure our first full year as an office was a successful year.”

It’s that team approach that Pettigrew has developed — in which he empowers team members and refrains from micromanaging — that has helped FCL achieve quick success in Arizona and separate itself from the competition. 

“It starts with culture and how we approach working with our clients,” Pettigrew says. “There are many good contractors in Arizona and many who can build quality projects. But at the end of the day, can they meet their client’s expectations? We focus our professional construction approach around understanding what our clients’ needs are and how they define success. A majority of our client base in private clients, developers, end users, and they all tend to have a slightly different version of what they expect from us. We give our teams enough flexibility to adapt to our clients and not force one construction approach on them. We personalize our services to best serve our clients.”

Learn more:

Michael Pollack

President and founder // Pollack Real Estate Investments

He may be a powerhouse within the Phoenix real estate market, known for transforming neighborhoods and executing shrewd investment transactions, but Michael Pollack, president and founder of Pollack Real Estate Investments remains approachable to the people he works with. To be the successful leader he has become, Pollack has long believed in the value of being accessible to his team.

Michael Pollack

“The highly motivated and dedicated team at Pollack Investments has worked together for many years,” Pollack says. “We are proud of the collaboration and working environment we have generated together through an open-door policy. I count on my team’s professionalism and look forward to many more years of working to make a positive difference in the communities Pollack Investments operates in.”

Over his 50 years in real estate investment, amassing a portfolio of more than 12 million square feet of real estate with a total value in excess of $1 billion dollars, Pollack has been able to cultivate strong and lasting relationships internally with employees and externally with his clients. He’s also positioned himself as a thought leader within the CRE market, keeping a close watch on local trends and fluctuations.

“I believe that rising interest rates and aggressive investment strategies will play a major role in the real estate industry in 2023,” he notes. “Companies like Amazon will continue to compete against small local retail while they continue to find their niches. The retail industry will continue to be transformed as new and imaginative changes bring about more choices for consumers on a daily basis.”

Part of retail transformation, according to Pollack, will continue to involve the Internet — something he says that will place further pressure on brick-and-mortar retail shops and physical stores to continue to work diligently on exceptional customer service.

Impeccable customer/client service, alongside smart planning and preparation, is something Pollack also prioritizes and practices. 

“It has always been my goal to put Pollack Investments in an extremely low debt position in order to always be prepared for potential market corrections,” he says. “Through careful planning I am now able to look forward to any market conditions and am prepared to purchase and redevelop assets with the intention of long-term growth.”

Learn more:

Davis Sellers

Co-founder of Creation and president and CEO of LGE Design Build

Sellers is the co-founder of Creation and president and CEO of LGE Design Build. He has been involved in more than 15 million square feet of development and shaped LGE’s team and process into what it is today. He has won several industry awards, including NAIOP general contractor of the year and NAIOP TI general contractor of the year.

Robert Taylor

Associate general manager and chief public affairs executive // SRP

Taylor’s responsibilities include managing federal, state and local government relations, federal and state regulatory matters including reliability compliance and consumer affairs. He is a member of the general manager’s staff and is a board member for Valley Partnership.

Matthew Visnansky

Vice president of real estate Development // The Opus Group

Visnansky  provides a variety of development services across multiple sectors. He has 16 years of experience, including 12 years in banking. He has experience in underwriting, portfolio management, analysis and sales and client interactions.