The Online World's Brick-and-Mortar Man

While sitting in CresaPartner’s oversize conference room in the company’s office at 100 Park Avenue, Mr. Petrie—a towering figure with salt-and-pepper hair and a gentle disposition—said it was that same conference room that he owed much of his current success to.

“We have the ability to open these walls and host events in our space, so we have been very active in the tech community hosting events for groups such as iBreakfast, Next NY and NY Angels,” said Mr. Petrie of the tech networking groups.

CresaPartners wouldn’t charge the groups for hosting the events. Instead, Mr. Petrie said he used the events to introduce himself to—and build enough good will with—each panelist.

“Many people have said multiple times, ‘We want to work with you because you get it,’” said Mr. Petrie, who was often the lone real estate agent at these events.

That’s not to say that every elevator pitch he has made to prospective clients has led to a guaranteed deal. “The direct connection hasn’t always been there,” said Mr. Petrie. But “building the good will has definitely led to business.”

His father was a Queens native who fled to Cleveland to work a manufacturing sales job. Mr. Petrie went east to attend the University of Pennsylvania, spent a few years running his own business selling commercial art to advertising firms, and then moved to his father’s native city to get his M.B.A. at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Once he switched to commercial real estate, Mr. Petrie made stops at Equis and at LaSalle Partners, ending up at Staubach, where he worked for Roger Staubach, the company’s namesake and legendary Dallas Cowboy quarterback.