Gerard Schumm: George M. Brooker Management Executive Recipient

Real estate was never supposed to be a career for Gerard Schumm.

The executive vice president of RFR Realty always wanted to be a musician, a drummer to be exact. But while going to St. Francis College, he asked his father, who worked in the real estate game, to help him find a day job until the record companies came banging at his door.

gerard 002 Gerard Schumm: George M. Brooker Management Executive Recipient

Gerard Schumm, REBNY Honoree. (Illustration by Joao Maio Pinto)

“I said, ‘Hey, Pop, can you get me something to tide me over?’” Mr. Schumm told The Commercial Observer during an interview last week.

In his paternal wisdom, Mr. Schumm’s father told him to him to pay attention: real estate might have something to offer.

“I’d like to believe that I would have made it as a professional musician,” he said. “But after almost 40 years in this great business I can honestly say that I’m not sure that a successful career in the music business would have been as rewarding as the time I have spent in the real estate industry. Maybe a little more fun, and probably a lot more trouble, but at this point in my life I really treasure the experiences and the friendships this industry has afforded me.”

It may not be a Grammy, but the Real Estate Board of New York’s “George M. Brooker Management Executive of the Year” award, bestowed on Mr. Schumm this year, should offer further validation that he made the right choice.

Last year, Mr. Schumm, while serving on REBNY’s management board of directors, helped tame a caustic labor dispute with the janitors union, 32BJ Service Employees International Union, which was threatening a strike that would affect 1,500 office buildings throughout the city—including 30 Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and the TimeWarner Center.

Mr. Schumm credited REBNY with finding a workable solution for everyone involved.

“They came up with a very reasonable and very fair settlement,” he said.

The self-effacing Mr. Schumm is reluctant to brag about his role in the resolution—or anything else.