Mundell Brokers Career

April 14, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — During a simple game of tennis John Mundell was able to broker his future career.

Mundell, vice president and managing director of CB Richard Ellis, played his way from a near miss at law school to real estate and found a career he loves.

Upon graduating from Albion College in 1988, Mundell began working in the Birmingham law firm of Williams, Schaefer, Ruby and Williams in order to prepare for law school.

However, his other college interest — tennis — led him toward a new career. He began playing tennis professionally after college and was teaching on the weekends at Glen Arbor, where he played doubles with the wife of the president of JMB Institutional Realty.

During his time at William, Schaefer, Ruby and Williams, which specialized in real estate and corporate law, Mundell began to take an interest in the world of real estate and acquired his real estate license in Michigan.

After talking with the president of the Chicago-based JMB, Mundell was set up with several interviews in the Chicago area and ended up working for JMB in its management program.

While with the company, Mundell was transferred to Los Angeles where he learned the aspects of shopping center real estate while managing the MainPlace Santa Ana. One of his challenges there was to conduct a research project.

Mundell presented his research on a recycling program, which determined that the shopping center could eliminate a $90,000 expenditure for trash and actually make money by recycling. The project was then modified and implemented throughout JMB’s holdings across the country.

Mundell continued to rise through the ranks of the company until he was general manager of the western region, at which time his personal life also took a turn. Mundell met his wife-to-be, Katie, who was from Grand Rapids and had also attended Albion.

The two decided to rendezvous in Chicago and because JMB only had senior management positions available in Chicago, Mundell began working for Miglin Beitler and switched his concentration from retail real estate to commercial real estate.

After three years with the company and earning a reputation as the reposition and asset person, Mundell faced a crossroads in his professional life. He had received several job offers but decided to accept his father-in-law’s offer to learn and possibly acquire a different business in Grand Rapids.

“I looked forward to developing equity and applying real estate to a general business plan,” said Mundell. “So we relocated to Grand Rapids and I took over Franklin Metal Training Corp.”

Not only did Mundell learn the scrap metal business but also was able to apply his real estate experience when he sold the building and land on which the business was located, and moved to a 30,000-square-foot building, leasing half the property to another business.

Mundell realized how much he missed the industry and made the move to CB Richard Ellis in December 1998, when the local brokerage office opened.

He began as the vice president and director of brokerage and for the first two years, focused on retail and office. He has for the past two years focused on office investment and leasing projects.

“I very much enjoy the opportunity to act as an advisor to different clients and establishing a long term relationship with them to help them increase the value of their property,” said Mundell. “I also like seeking out deals and putting the two parties together, and then closing on them of course.”

From here on Mundell will control his own destiny, an advantage, he said, real estate gives him.

“The opportunities in Grand Rapids are abundant,” he added. “From here on out we wish, as a company, to drive up our client base and develop our corporate service, develop our property management department and further our brokerage business.”

Mundell says he will continue to thrive in the real estate business, in a company he portrays as project driven, listing McKay Tower, Campau Square Plaza and the National City building as some of its projects.

Another thing Mundell noted keeps him going are the new challenges and projects and interesting discoveries his job allows him.

But after work, just four people make him happy: his wife of 11 years, Katie, daughters Caroline and Lily, and son Jack. Mundell continues to play tennis, golf and basketball, and is an avid runner.

“In working for CB Richard Ellis we try to maximize the three Ps: people, platform and performance. Our goal is to become the source for commercial real estate information and reporting,” said Mundell. “Personally I enjoy working on the management side and encouraging others to do business, while also keeping a hand in the brokerage and leasing side of it all.”


Name: John A. Mundell, III

Company: CB Richard Ellis

Title: Vice president and managing director

Age: 36

Birthplace: Royal Oak

Residence: East Grand Rapids

Personal: Wife Katie, daughters Caroline, 6, Lily, 4, and son Jack, 16 months

Community Involvements: Member of the Downtown Rotary, co-chair of Rotary’s Youth Exchange Program, member of committees at Kent Country Club and Westminster Church, vice president of the Building Owners Management Association of Grand Rapids (BOMA) and board member of the Community Alliance of Realtors (CAR).

Biggest Career Break: A combination of having the opportunity to arrive in Grand Rapids at the right time to capitalize on the unique opportunities the city has to offer, and working at CB Richard Ellis in the field he loves. 

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