CHAMPIONS OF COMMUNITY
A trusted leader with a track record as the highest volume dealmaker during his loyal 13-year tenure as the Director of Leasing for Ramco-Gershenson (a publicly-traded owner/developer of institutional-grade retail), JJ Bujalski is a Duke educated Real Estate Maven and Founding Partner of LEASE UP.
As a kid, JJ lived and breathed retail almost literally: He lived directly above his parents’ grocery store...every movement leaving an imprint on his memory. Watching his Mom and Dad passionately interact with clients and customers every day, JJ was inspired to build community through service. “Food is a necessity and this is where the community came to collectively gather and buy survival goods and it inspired me,” says JJ Bujalski, Founding Partner of the LEASE UP TEAM.
JJ’s dad also had a reputation for coaching and developing champion wrestlers in the Buffalo region that went on to experience success at the national level. Some of these he coached have given back by developing wrestlers who have become champions at the world level who are the face of the sport.
It was natural for JJ to become a wrestler himself, and his dedication and passion resulted in him being named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll as a member of the Duke University Varsity Wrestling team. JJ firmly believes that the qualities derived from wrestling (grit, hustle, sacrifice, team, tactical mindset, resiliency, drive to succeed) are the keys to success in the business world.
“Family weekend outings to restaurants were cherished and led to a strong passion for restaurants — and from there I watched my dad invest in apartments, providing homes for people,” JJ said. Deciding between the restaurant or the Real Estate industry, JJ studied the trends and helped develop an upscale Mexican brand, Mez, which has stood the test of time for over 12 years. However, he describes it as being painful to watch many of his favorite restaurants go out of business putting people’s livelihoods on the line. Through deciding to pursue Commercial Real Estate, JJ understands that he can build place and community without an undue amount of risk by investing and spending time with business owners whose concepts he believes in. JJ loves living vicariously through the success of others, meeting with business owners on the front end, listening to their vision, navigating them through a crucial process, and participating in the project from start to finish. He understands that in Real Estate, it’s possible to share in the reward without shouldering all of the risk. The gratifying moments of seeing a community’s foundation grow and thrive is something JJ and the LEASE UP TEAM value most.