January 15, 2007

CEO of Orvis/Cushman & Wakefield Takes Global View of Real Estate Market

By Journal, Business

In just 18 months after opening an international headquarters in Colorado Springs, John Watson, CEO of Orvis/Cushman & Wakefield, and his team have already closed $44 million worth of ranch and recreational land transactions.

The longtime Westcliffe resident and land broker owned his own company prior to approaching Cushman-Wakefield owners John and Lou Cushman about starting a new enterprise.

"I could see such potential for a company that worked with special buyers interested in land for conservation or recreational and sporting use," Watson said. "They encouraged me to run the concept by Perk Perkins, president of the Orvis Co. and said 'If you can tee it up with Orvis, we're interested.' A joint venture was formed in 2005. Today our listings range from several hundred to hundreds of thousands of acres in Colorado, New Mexico, Georgia, Wyoming and Florida - and appear in millions of Orvis publications mailed out annually."

Prior to leaving for Chile this week, Watson took time to tell the CSBJ about himself and his organization.

Organization: Orvis/Cushman & Wakefield

Position: President and CEO

Hometown: Pasadena, Calif.

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: Since 1993 we have resided on a beautiful mountain ranch in rural Westcliffe. I keep an apartment in Colorado Springs where I spend three or four evenings during the week.

Education: I graduated from the University of Southern California in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in finance and administration.

A few words about your organization: Orvis/Cushman & Wakefield brings together the expertise of 1,600 brokers around the world with individuals who love the outdoors, believe in preservation of the land and have the net worth to acquire outstanding properties.

Recent accomplishments: Closing on the sale of the Winding River Ranch in Park County. The 3,200-acre fishing and recreational property was sold for $11.5 million in late December.

Biggest career break: When I was able to put together a joint venture between two major international companies and see a concept take shape.

The toughest part of your job: Travel is the biggest challenge. It's great because my job takes me to some of the most beautiful locations and finest sporting properties in the world, but it's tough to spend away from my family. Whenever possible, I try to include my family on business trips. My wife and one son joined me on my last visit to the 9,000-acre Tecolote Ranch in New Mexico. Then last June my son Clarke joined me on a business trip to Argentina.

Someone you admire: My dad. He was a talented and wonderful man.

About your family: Elizabeth and I have been married for 22 years. We have three children: Jane, 19; Clarke, 18; and Henry, 10. Jane and Clarke attend the University of Denver. They graduated from Custer County High School, a rural school district near Westcliffe. Henry is in the fifth grade at Custer County School. Elizabeth is president of the Watson Land Co. Inc., a regional ranch brokerage based in Westcliffe and launched in 1993. My mom, Ada, is 80 and lives in California. She's an amazing woman and still tears up the L.A. freeways with the best of them.

Something else you'd like to accomplish: I'm a mediocre musician and would like to improve my skills on the mandolin and guitar.

How your business will change in the next decade: It will become more global. The international real estate market has been very fragmented. Through Orvis/Cushman & Wakefield, I believe we'll help bring it together.

What book are you currently reading: Fodor's "Guide to Chile."

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs: I'd clean up downtown. If it's not careful, this beautiful city could lose its reputation as a safe, clean place to visit. If Rudy Guiliani can clean up New York City, this should be a cinch. It's a great town, and I love the airport.

(Copyright 2007 Dolan Media Newswires)

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