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Profile of:“If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart”
– Stanley Black
By John L. Seitz – Courier Managing Editor
That philosophy sums up how colorful Beverly Hills real estate tycoon and philanthropist Stanley Black has managed to combine a dynamic business life with a wealth of humanitarian endeavors and prosper for more than a half century.
The native Angeleno attended Los Angeles High School and LA City College before serving an 18-month hitch in the US Navy.
Following discharge from the service in 1954, he joined the highly successful Buckeye Realty & Management headed by George Konheim and Bram Goldsmith (longtime board chairman of BH-based City National Bank).
“I got my early training at Buckeye, which was the top breeding ground for anyone interested in just about every aspect of commercial real estate” stated Black. “Whether it was finance, construction or the overall management of office buildings, they did it all and they did it right.”
Two years later, he struck out on his own - first in a short-lived partnership with Hal Wiseman and then joining forces with Arthur Kaplan to establish KB Management in 1957.
Within a decade, their firm had constructed some 50 office buildings on spec spread throughout the LA metropolitan area from Hollywood, Pasadena and Encino to Long Beach, Woodland Hills and LAX.
Each of these projects ranged in space from 200,000 to 400,000 square feet with the company employing more than 100 people and having real estate holdings which exceeded $375 million.
In the early 1970s, the high cost of construction detoured the partners into diversifying their holdings. Instead of erecting structures from scratch, KB began to purchase existing office buildings (i.e. the famed Max Factor headquarters on Highland Ave.) which were deemed as not being put to their best use or potential.
“Besides the construction, we controlled every other facet including leasing and management,” Black said. “It was then, KB began developing distressed properties as regional offices for HUD and other government agencies as well as creating shopping centers in redevelopment and low income areas.”
In 1975, the partners got an offer they couldn’t refuse from the Canadian conglomerate Trisec-Hahn which purchased KB Management. The buyers sent Black and Kaplan into an early retirement due to an extensive “non-compete” contract. One that expired, however, they were back at it again but now primarily engaged in developing industrial and retail parcels as well as building “envelope” properties, custom designed for specific customer needs.
When Kaplan died in 1985, the partners’ families decided to go their separate ways by opening their own offices. Management of their jointly-owned, huge portfolio was thenplaced in the hands of outside professionals.
At the same time, Black’s son, Jack, joined his father’s business along with a new partner Bob Barth. They moved the headquarters to Beverly Hills and established Black Equities to invest in income producing units, many of which are leased to major retail and industrial users under long-term contracts.
Despite owning 150 properties spread among 15 states, mainly in California and the West but some as far away as New York and Boston, Black explained that he strives to maintain his time-honored “hands-on” approach of always being available and more than willing to consult with a manager, tenant, contractor or any employee.
“Our aim is to immediately attack even the smallest problem, nip it in the bud, and thereby prevent any of these from getting out of hand and turning into larger ones later on,” said Black.
Besides being a decidedly active manager, he also insists upon a relaxed atmosphere at his headquarters.
“My office door is always open because you never know when the next great deal is coming by.”
Based upon his success, this open formula is obviously working to a tee.
What giving all this personal attention to his real estate holdings hasn’t done, however, is to pry him away from a myriad of charitable activities which he and his wife of 40 years, Joyce, have long been engaged in.
For instance, the Blacks are the prime benefactors of the LA ORT Technical Institute on Wilshire Blvd. and the Special Care facility at Vista Del Mar Child & Family Services in Cheviot Hills.
“We have been particularly active with Vista Del Mar because it is dedicated to the well-being and care of children and families locally who have been neglected, abused or abandoned,” stated Black. “It is remarkable to see the consequences of their emotional, physical and psychological state.
Black was a founder and past president of the LA Men’s ORT and board member of the American ORT, one of the world’s largest non-governmental education and training organizations.
“ORT’s global network is now educating the marketable skills of more than 300,000 students in 60 countries, providing education as well as hot meals, bus rides, trauma counseling and security,” Black explained.
But his extracurricular activities don’t end with ORT and Vista Del Mar. He is on the board of governors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and actively involved in the Jewish Home for the Aged, American Friends of Hebrew University, Union Rescue Mission, the LA Music Center, American Friends of Tel Aviv University, Children’s Hospital and Loyola Marymount University.
Black has been honored by the City of Hope, Boy Scouts of America, National Organization of Christians and Jews, Jewish Federation, Jewish Big Brothers, Yeshiva Gedolah/Michael Diller High School, and many others.
Asked what he likes to do in his spare time which seemingly would be a rare occurance, Black said: “Joyce and I spent six weeks traveling in Europe this summer. It was a great chance to unwind and get away from everything.”
They also have three children: Jack Black, Jill Zalben and Janis Warner; and six grandchildren: Brittany Black, Zachary and Victoria Zalben, and Jason, Jennifer and Joey Goldman.
He has even published a book of proverbs called Thoughts to Live By which he proudly gives to business and social acquaintances.
“My father created the first book years ago so I’m just following suit,” Black pointed out. “And my daughter, Janis, has come up with her own titled Inspirations to Live By.”
Some of these sayings include “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice”; another is “Life is a marathon, not a sprint”; while a third is “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it”.
But while proverbs and philantrophy occupy much of his time, real estate continues to be Black’s main passion after honing it for a half century.
“As somebody who loves to put the deals together, I’ve always found that you make money when you buy something, not when you sell.”
Nobody can argue with that!
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