Most executives of family-run real estate companies like to keep things small, but not Charles Kushner, chairman of Kushner Cos., which owns and manages more than 20,000 apartment units and more than 6 million square feet of commercial space. He wants to be one of the largest owners of residential apartment units on the East Coast. He has expanded the company that his father started in 1954. For Kushner, it's all about growth. "No one has been more active in New Jersey – especially in its core business of apartments – than the Kushner Cos.," says Alan R. Hammer, managing director of the law firm Brach Eichler and an attorney for the company.

Kushner Cos. has a deliberate strategy for growth – and it's being accomplished in strategically planned steps. During the past year, the company accomplished its goal of becoming a major player throughout New Jersey, says Kushner. "We used to be primarily concentrated in Central and North Jersey. With our latest acquisition of WNY Group, we expanded our portfolio to all of New Jersey."

Charles Kushner, chairman of Kushner Cos.
Charles Kushner, chairman of Kushner Cos.

The September 2000 acquisition of WNY gave Kushner Cos. the foothold it needed to start its next segment of growth. "We are no longer just a New Jersey company with only a local presence, but now a major Northeast company," says Kushner. "Now, we're actually strategizing how to grow our company to have a national presence up and down the East Coast."

Through the WNY acquisition, the company acquired 8,000 units in four states, including New Jersey. It now owns properties in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

"The strategy [of growth] is very important as the company moves forward and looks to grow," says Bruce Schonbraun, managing partner at Schonbraun Safris McCann Bekritsky, a real estate accounting and consulting firm that has advised the company on several deals. "Kushner Cos. has now positioned itself as a major player on this super regional level – New England through Florida."

According to Schonbraun, the company's strategy was centered around the premise that the evolution of the real estate world has moved away from individual owners owning local assets and individual deals. "[Together, Schonbraun and the Kushner Cos.] worked on a strategy to build a full-service organization with a professional management team Color ," he says. "It's not just about buying bricks and mortar. We've spent long hours talking about growth. It's not about growth for the sake of growth; it's creating long-term value by buying quality assets in quality areas."