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Cushman & Wakefield, Commercial Real Estate Lose Industry Leader

Sudden Death of Joe Stettinius, C&W's Executive VP of Strategic Investments, Shocks Industry
February 2, 2018
The commercial real estate industry is reacting with shock to the sudden passing of Joe Stettinius, a major force behind the mergers that created the latest iteration of Cushman & Wakefield.

A stalwart of commercial real estate in the Washington, D.C., area for decades, Stettinius gained national acclaim when he oversaw, with Mark Burkhart, the national expansion of Cassidy Turley.

Stettinius, a devoted family man who was well-liked in the industry, went on to play a pivotal role in the mergers of Cassidy Turley and DTZ, and then the combination of Cushman & Wakefield and DTZ. Stettinius served as the first CEO of the Americas of Cushman after the mergers. He most recently served as executive vice chairman, Strategic Investments, Americas.

Deal-making was in Stettinius’ blood, said CoStar founder and CEO Andy Florance. He was the grandson of Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, who served in that role for Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman in 1944 and 1945. In the famous photo of the 1945 Yalta Conference, Edward Stettinius is standing behind Roosevelt.

"Joe inherited that exceptional statesman ability," Florance said. "He was simply brilliant at bringing people together. He empathized with each person he met and with that ability he was the best dealmaker I ever met."

Stettinius' death was announced Friday in an email from Shawn Mobley, Cushman & Wakefield CEO, Americas, to Cushman employees. He was 55.

"It goes without saying that Joe was a tremendous force in the CRE industry for more than 30 years, beginning with his days as an accomplished leasing agent, where he closed approximately 4.5 million square feet of leases for landlords of Washington, DC landmarks such as 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Evening Star Building, and Hall of the States," Mobley wrote in the message.

"A major driver and orchestrator of the firm’s success to date, Joe played a pivotal role in the planning, preparation and execution of the merger of Cassidy Turley and DTZ, where he served as CEO of Cassidy Turley, and the merger of Cushman & Wakefield and DTZ, where he served as Chief Executive, Americas," his statement added.

Stettinius earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues and competitors across the country. His negotiation skills, honed during his time as a leasing agent, were critical as he merged Cassidy Turley and DTZ and then DTZ and Cushman & Wakefield. Stettinius also was praised for his handling of officially relocating the headquarters of Cassidy Turley from St. Louis when he became CEO of the firm.

His knowledge and executive skill led to Stettinius winning many awards and honors from the commercial real estate press and his peers. Commercial Property Executive named him its 2015 Executive of the Year, and Washington Business Journal named him Most Admired CEO in 2013.

Stettinius' deep network of colleagues, peers and friends were still processing the news Friday afternoon.

"I am profoundly sad, at the moment. Joe is, has, and will always be an impactful person in my life and career," said John J. Fleury, president of Madison Marquette of Washington. Fleury served as COO and CFO of Cassidy Turley and as president of the old Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers.

"I enjoyed the privilege of working with Joe for more than a decade and know as many industry vets, yesterday we lost one of the truly great ones. His excitement, enthusiasm and entrepreneurialism gave rise to success of the companies he worked with," Fleury said. "I can only hope to work with such a pro in our industry again."

"We will remember Joe for many things. Most of all we'll remember that he loved a good deal, and he was passionate about bringing two disparate groups together to create something better than they were before - he was a genius at connecting people," Mobley said in his note to employees. "Thank you Joe for what you did for our industry, for our firm, and for our community. We’ll miss you."

Stettinius is survived by his wife Regina, daughter Isabel and son Alexander.
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