The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles recently threw a party at the Beverly Hilton to honor Sanford D. “Sandy” Sigal, one of the biggest names in Southern California retail real estate, and he took the opportunity to pay homage to the group he said played a pivotal role in his life and ultimate business success.
The federation’s Real Estate & Construction (REC) division last month recognized Sigal’s leadership and contributions to the group and the larger Jewish community at its annual dinner. Sigal, who founded NewMark Merrill Cos. in 1997, is president and chief executive officer of the Woodland Hills, California-based firm that owns and/or manages more than 70 shopping centers comprising over 10 million square feet of commercial space.
In a tribute video made for the event titled “It’s a Wonderful Life with Sandy Sigal,” friends, family and business partners marveled at Sigal’s unwavering commitment to spend time with his family while building a business. They also lauded him for supporting the Jewish Federation, starting as a teenager and later when working six-plus days a week creating NewMark Merrill.
“Somehow [Sigal] still ended up donating money and donating time during the most difficult year, I’d say, in our lives,” Brad Pearl, executive vice president of leasing and development at NewMark Merrill, said in the video.
Sigal’s mother, Gloria Schwartz, credited the Jewish Federation and Camp Max Straus with helping her son become more outgoing and confident. Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles operates the camp, which was created in 1938 in the Verdugo Mountains.
“I went to Camp Max Straus and the Jewish Federation to see if they could get Sandy something that would help because he was very, very quiet,” Schwartz said in the video. “They took him in two years, and after that he was a different person. He was more sure of himself, came out of himself. And when he grew up and he did well, he didn’t forget Camp Max Straus.”
During his speech at the Jewish Federation dinner, attended by more than 1,200 people, Sigal also credited the group and Camp Max Straus with helping to make him the man he is today.
“The Jewish Federation saved and shaped my life, starting at age 7 when I attended Camp Max Strauss run by the Jewish Big Brother Big Sisters of Los Angeles, where the counselors served as my mentors,” Sigal said during his speech. “This experience made me appreciate what a little support means when you are going through life and need some direction.”
He also thanked his mother for all she did for him while growing up.
“I honestly believe in the goodness and the potential for greatness in all people no matter where they come from,” Sigal said in his speech. “Among the many people in my life that I can thank for shaping the person I am today, I owe no greater gratitude than to my mother, Gloria, sitting here with us tonight, who made sure to support me, nurture me and challenge me, always putting me and my brother first every step of the way.”
The celebration and video also highlighted Sigal’s sense of humor and fun side.
“We used to crank call people. We used to throw Frisbees in the old office,” Jim Patton, senior vice president of leasing and acquisitions, said in the video.
But in the end, his children stole the show with their comments in the video about how their father balanced his family life with a growing commercial real estate business.
“He always makes that time it doesn’t matter where he is or what he’s doing,” son Hayden Sigal said. “He’s always going to be there for us. I’ve never doubted that ever. Ever.”
Author: TONY WILBERT