Now faced with his first-ever office-building management assignment, Mr. Trump made a strategic play to woo brokers, who, perhaps more than anyone else, had the leverage to sell 40 Wall Street to potential office tenants. “I look at the brokerage world as your unpaid sales force until they perform,” he said. “What I wanted to do was befriend those people, get to know the players.”
He reached out to Jeffrey Lichtenberg, an executive vice president at Cushman & Wakefield who had worked with the Trump Organization in the past. Mr. Lichtenberg and his team were eventually brought on as the exclusive leasing agents for 40 Wall Street, and from there, they courted other big brokerage firms to rouse up business.
“What we did was, instead of having one big party, we had a series of lunches with each firm,” said Mr. Lichtenberg. The message, brokers on both sides of the table said, was simple: 40 Wall Street was open for business. It wanted to work with brokers and it wanted new tenants.
“Because Don was cooperative and helpful to me and then we were cooperative to the brokers, the brokers realized that the best place for them to bring a tenant to get a deal done was 40 Wall,” added Mr. Lichtenberg. “Don helped turn around the image of the building.”
What also helped spur leasing activity was Mr. Trump’s willingness to sweeten the deal by offering incentive packages. He also kept a simple pledge: if a broker brings in business to 40 Wall Street, he would make honoring that broker’s commission a top priority.
“If I tell them I am going to do something, I am going to do it,” said Mr. Trump. “If I tell them that they’re going to get their commission check on this moment, they are going to get it on or before this moment,” he added, hitting the table with an index finger for emphasis.