Continuing to Serve
Q&A with Jackson Berry, CCIM
Jackson Berry, CCIM, CPM, is a managing broker with Red Compass Realty in Grand Junction, Colo. While currently a commercial real estate professional in his hometown, Berry’s path to this career took him to the other side of the world. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he tapped into the CCIM Institute’s Vets
in Real Estate program, which, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, offers vets the opportunity to fund their education toward earning the CCIM designation through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Berry’s (left) military-bred can-do attitude has helped in the commercial real estate industry.
Berry, growing up in Grand Junction, attended Ricks College (now Brigham Young University-Idaho) to pursue a degree in music. But after a two-year mission in Russia, he switched tracks and focused his studies on international relations. After transferring to BYU, Berry joined the Air Force ROTC program, graduating
in 2002 as a second lieutenant. Berry deployed to Qatar in 2004 to support military operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Three years later, he transferred into the Air Force Reserves, where he remains a reservist assigned to the European region.
We spoke with Berry about his time in the U.S. Air Force, what led him to seek the CCIM designation, and what goals lie ahead of him.
CIRE: When you were finishing up your service, how did commercial real estate find its way on your radar? How did you begin your career in the field?
Jackson Berry, CCIM: My paternal grandfather, Jack Berry, ran a farm and ranch real estate business in Grand Junction starting in the 1970s. My dad managed properties and did the accounting, and, growing up, I helped mow lawns and make repairs at the
properties from time to time. It was a natural fit for me with a degree in international studies in a small town where that kind of degree doesn’t have much use. By the time I moved back to town, my grandfather was no longer in business, but I came across a commercial broker, Dick Scariano, who asked me to
come work for him. I got my license and worked for him for about six years before branching out on my own. He’s a smart man and taught me a lot of valuable lessons in the business.
CIRE: You finished the four main courses fairly quickly en route to earning CCIM designation in 2017. What led you to pursue the pin?
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to get into investments, so CCIM Institute’s courses and the designation were goals from back in 2007 when I started in real estate. I even took the CI 101 course online and began my experience portfolio
that far back because I was assisting with the management of office buildings with Mr. Scariano. At the same time, I was also interested in the Certified Property Manager designation. I earned that in 2015, using that to fast track the CCIM designation. When I learned that the institute was going to accept GI
Bill funding (or now Post-9/11 GI Bill), I jumped at the opportunity. I had already used some of the benefits toward an MBA, but I felt the CCIM designation was more focused on where I wanted to go with my career. I set a target to complete the courses and take the test in as short a time as possible
and went for it.
CIRE: Military service is closely associated with discipline and determination, but what other skills did you learn in the U.S. Air Force that positioned you for success in CRE?
Berry: In the military, you can’t wait for other people to do your job — you have to figure it out and make it happen; otherwise, nothing gets done. I worked in a field that was analytical and required putting together pieces of information to formulate
recommendations to decision-makers. In real estate, there are often a lot of loose ends that need to be chased down and pulled together. Once the facts are assembled and a little critical thinking has been applied, the decision-makers are the investors who need to make purchase and disposition decisions. Military
commanders like you to anticipate their questions several layers deep, and I have found investors to be the same way. If I can present information in a clear way and be ready to answer questions two or three layers deep, I’m in pretty good shape.
Military commanders like you to anticipate their questions several layers deep, and I have found investors to be the same way. If I can present information in a clear way and be ready to answer questions two or three layers deep, I’m in pretty good shape.
CIRE: What does the CCIM Veterans Program mean to you? How important are professional opportunities for veterans looking to transition into civilian life?
I feel like the certificate programs are better for veterans who have a specific trajectory like me. While an MBA provides great general business knowledge and works for many people, I felt that focusing specifically on commercial investment real
estate gave me an advantage in a specific niche. I didn’t need to move to a location where a real estate degree was offered, and I also had an opportunity to network with seasoned professionals.
CIRE: As both a CPM and CCIM, you are distinguished among CRE professionals. What are your goals for, say, the next two years? What are your long-term goals?
Berry: I’m working to develop and enhance existing real estate income streams for a large local nonprofit called Hilltop, which provides independent living options for brain-injured adults called the life adjustment program (LAP) and many other
community programs. (Red Compass Realty is a for-profit subsidiary of Hilltop Health Services corporation. We work together to generate income for the not-for-profit activities in Grand Junction.) I enjoy working through the management challenges and slogging through the financial gymnastics to create
opportunities in our small market. Over the next two years, I hope to raise $1 million dollars for a new LAP campus, and, over the next 10 years, to create a series of syndications that fulfill housing needs in Grand Junction and offer wealth creation options for people in our community.
For more on opportunities for veterans, check out CCIM Institute’s Veterans in Real Estate program.