Lou Nimkoff receives the 2014 Commercial Realtor Achievement Award from 2014 Florida Realtors President Sherri Meadows during last year’s convention.
WINTER PARK, Fla. — From his own experience, Lou Nimkoff, broker-owner of Brio Real Estate in Winter Park, understands that few things shape a person’s life more than the death of a parent. A third generation “real estate guy,” he didn’t have the luxury of learning the business from his grandfather or father.
Nimkoff recalls, “My grandfather died when I was young. My father developed cancer while I was away at college. I left college and moved home to help with the family business in New York.”
The 2014 winner of Florida Realtors Commercial Realtor Achievement Award, he earned his college degree taking night classes while working at his family’s business. In fact, he worked at his father’s real estate company for only four months before his father passed away. He looked to the people who had worked for his father for business guidance. “It was interesting learning from the people who had worked with him, which included some family,” he says.
However, Nimkoff wanted to expand his horizons and learn about the real estate business from a perspective different from his New York-based family. So he packed up and moved south to Florida.
“I was in my late 20s, working on a project in Florida and questioning what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. “It was a difficult move. I left behind my family and friends. I didn’t know many people in Florida.”
The risk turned out to be a good decision, one that he encourages young people to consider. “When I speak to young real estate professionals, I encourage them to do something different. Move, stretch yourself, expand your horizons,” he says.
Those first few years in Florida were tough yet productive, he recalls. Nimkoff was in real estate management working on a condo project that was 90 percent built out.
“I bought some apartments nearby and that was my start in the apartment world,” he says. Nimkoff learned to stay focused early in his career. After all, he says, it’s easy to say yes to people.
“I specialize in retail and multifamily in Winter Park and Orlando. If my phone rings and the person wants help finding an office in Oviedo (a nearby suburb), the tendency is to say yes,” he says.
However, Nimkoff points out, the time it would take to educate yourself on a new property type in an unfamiliar location takes a ton of time and diverts you from your core business.
Another personal lesson learned: Bigger isn’t always better.
“I spent a lot of time early on building a plan to have multiple offices and 30-plus agents,” he says. “But, at the end of the day, I’m a small, one-man operation. I’m able to be lean and keep to a core business and that’s OK.”
In fact, after reading a book by A.L. Williams, “All You Can Do Is All You Can Do, But All You Can Do Is Enough,” (On the New York Times bestseller list in 1988), he realized it’s OK to set reasonable goals instead of lofty, pie-in-the-sky goals. Doing so paid off for Nimkoff and his business.
Along the way, he also learned the value of supporting legislative advocacy.
“I believe we can achieve so much through the Realtor® organization,” Nimkoff says. “Realtors are connected to everyone because everyone has to live somewhere. By taking a strong position and trying to effect change in Tallahassee and in Washington, D.C., we can improve the housing industry for everyone. You can either sit back and let a small minority of Realtors decide for you, or you can get involved and be a part of the decisions.”
Public policy involvement can range from making a vital donation to a political action committee (PAC) or – as Nimkoff does – personally talking with lawmakers to give them information and insight on important issues.
A member of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA), Nimkoff has served on numerous committees and task forces for his local organization. He is a member of its board of directors and current chair of the Orlando Regional Commercial Council. In 2013, he was honored by ORRA for his efforts in establishing the regional commercial council – and recognized as the local association’s 2013 Realtor of the Year. Nimkoff also received ORRA’s 2010 Pillar of the Community Award and 2012 Grant Clarke Volunteer Award; in 2011, the Central Florida Commercial Association of Realtors honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
At the state level, Nimkoff served on Florida Realtors Commercial Alliance Committee, key contacts subcommittee and its board of directors. Since 2011, he has been a federal political coordinator for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and is a current member of NAR’s Commercial Alliance Committee.
Overall, he says, success in business happens when people take risks and recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
Nimkoff adds: “Do what you’re best at, focus on that and success will come.”
A a member of the Orlando Regional Realtor® Association, Nimkoff is dedicated to his profession and to his community. He has taken additional education courses to enhance his knowledge and expertise, earning the professional designation of Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and Certified Property Manager (CPM). He is an active member of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and will serve as its chairman next year.