CCIM Feature

CCIM Spotlight(3)

A CCIM relies on a close-knit network of colleagues to overcome life's obstacles.

From left: Michael R. Shelton, CCIM, Steven W. Moreira, CCIM, Julie LaBelle, CCIM, Philip T. Spinney, CCIM, Brian Stoll, and Fred Passarelli.

In summer 2004, commercial real estate was in the midst of an unprecedented boom, and Philip T. Spinney, CCIM, commercial consultant for Magic Properties and Investments in Longwood, Fla., was glad he had switched careers: “I had worked in the hotel and restaurant supply business for 30 years,” Spinney says. “Real estate is easier. You can be more flexible and adaptive.” These traits soon would come in handy, both at work and at home.

That August, Hurricane Charley hit. Though Spinney weathered the storm, his entire property was flooded. “My dogs thought it was great,” he says. Throughout the recovery process, Spinney pressed on with leasing and mortgage work. But his trials had only just begun.

Spinney is a liver transplant recipient, and his wife, who recently had nursed him through a transplant-related malady, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007. A few months later, she passed away. Again, Spinney took solace in his work: “It kept my mind occupied,” he says. “You’ve got to work to stay focused.”

On July 4, 2008, around midnight, Spinney was awakened by his neighbor screaming, “Your house is on fire!” An errant roman candle had landed on his garage and set it ablaze. Spinney, a former volunteer firefighter, saved his pets, grabbed a hose, and tried in vain to stop the blaze from spreading. “When I had to put more water on myself than on the fire, I knew it was time to get out of there,” he says. Spinney’s garage and truck — as well as a portion of the recently renovated house — were destroyed.

In September 2008, just as contractors had begun to repair the fire damage, Spinney’s house once again was flooded, this time by Tropical Storm Fay. By then, even the dogs were tired of the water. But Spinney remained positive: “I was lucky compared to my neighbors,” he says. “Every day you can get up and go to work is a great day.”

At the office, Spinney found not only focus, but a wellspring of support from colleagues. Cynthia C. Shelton, CCIM, of Colliers International in Orlando, and Michael R. Shelton, CCIM, and Susanne I. Odena, CCIM, of Magic Properties and Investments, and other CCIMs offered consolation and took on business responsibilities as he dealt with his misfortunes. Robin L. Webb, CCIM, of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT in Maitland, Fla., and many others visited Spinney in the hospital after his transplant.

Warren T. Barry, CCIM, of Cape Coral, Fla., even organized a transplant-related blood drive. And perhaps most tellingly, Steven W. Moreira, CCIM, also of Magic Properties and Investments, finished a deal that the two of them had begun before Spinney was hospitalized. When he appeared at Spinney’s bedside for a visit, he was holding a $30,000 commission check with Spinney’s name on it. “To me, CCIM is not just a professional organization, but [a group of] caring, supportive friends,” Spinney says.

Now, like everyone else in the industry, Spinney faces today’s economic challenges, but he remains optimistic: “I get upset when people only see the downside. Real estate is full to the brim with opportunity.” Citing the abundance of real-estate-owned-asset work created by the downturn, he anticipates a prosperous 2009. “We’re all subject to the vagaries of nature,” whether it’s Mother Nature or the nature of the market, he adds. “But if you’re willing to take life in your jaws and go forward, things are going to work out.”

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