Nobody knows Boston’s industrial real estate market like Cathy Minnerly does. The Vermont native talks fast and closes deals, her colleagues say; listen to her and you’ll learn more than you expect.
Now a vice president and principal at NAI Hunneman, Minnerly has done more than simply fight the perception of commercial real estate as a man’s world. She’s established an enviable reputation as a closer who averages more than 50 sales and over 1 million square feet annually.
“One of the reasons why she’s doing a million square feet a year of deals is because building owners and companies and corporations down in the south market know her,” said Michael DiGiano, executive vice president at NAI Hunneman. “When they have a real estate need, she’s automatically one of the people they think about because of her tremendous market knowledge.”
Ovar Osvold, who joined Minnerly and her team at NAI Hunneman about three years ago, said he’s absorbed a wealth of knowledge just listening to Minnerly.
“She mentored me then, and she’s still mentoring me now,” he said. “She’s been doing this for almost 27 years. She knows every single building in our market, when it was built and who the last tenant was.”
Of course, blazing your own trail is seldom ever easy. Minnerly got her start in 1987, when she was just 22 and doing secretarial work for a developer in Canton who saw potential in her and put her through real estate school. She earned her license and soon set out to conquer the commercial real estate world as a sales associate.
“I was probably the only female in commercial real estate back then. Shawmut Park was all male,” she recalled. “I was taking over listings from some men who didn’t appreciate that I was even in the business.”
“She’s very down to earth and very personable. I think that comes from starting professionally in industrial brokerage,” DiGiano remarked. “It may not have the glamour of the downtown Class A office property, but you’re in the nitty-gritty, and frequently dealing with male owners of companies in male-dominated industries, like trucking.”
“Cathy can relate, she feels comfortable in that environment,” DiGiano added. “She gets their respect, and I think that’s because of her knowledge and because she’s a very genuine person.”
Minnerly is particularly proud of her relationship with John D. Murphy Company and their project at Walpole Park South. She’s been with the project since 1989, when it was just one 105,000 square-foot building, and has helped grow the park to more than 600,000 square feet across eight buildings.
She counts her success with Myles Standish Industrial Park chief among her accomplishments. She’s been involved in leasing and sales since Phase II began in 1995 and has sold more than 350 acres of land. One of her many current challenges is marketing the park’s final phase of 200 acres.
Being a closer in the commercial real estate world doesn’t leave her without time to devote to charity, though. Every year, she bikes 50 miles in the Prouty Ride for Cancer and also volunteers time for the May Institute for Autism and the Christian Fund.
Above all, it’s clear that Minnerly relishes the challenges of her job.
“I make my own hours, I do my own thing,” she said. “It’s not the same old, same old of going to an office. Every deal is completely different, and I really like trying to figure out what’s the highest and best use of a property.”
Minnerly added, “I like the challenge of trying to close the deal.”