The Power is Now

Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame: Clayco’s Russ Burns –

Midwest Real Estate News inducts a new class in its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame each year. Last year was no different, despite the challenges CRE pros faced. Here’s a look at one of our new inductees, Russ Burns, president and chief executive officer with St. Louis-based Clayco.

Russ Burns has more than 35 years of diversified real estate and construction experience and has held several leadership positions throughout the industry. He has been president of the Clayco enterprise consisting of all operating businesses since 2008 and was named Clayco’s chief executive officer in 2019.

“I love the way commercial real estate changes and, when done right, not only improves the parcel it is on, but the whole community that surrounds it,” Burns said, of what he most enjoys about commercial real estate.

Burns works with clients and Clayco’s leadership to promote collaboration and innovation across the Clayco enterprise and its subsidiaries throughout the country. He personally ensures that a client’s vision is understood in every step of the process.

His greatest challenges in CRE are the same challenges everyone faces, Burns said.

“The up and down markets that can come with little or no warning (we are seeing that currently). But it is this same aspect that keeps us on our toes,” Burns said, “and really makes us think and consider how to make a good deal a great deal.”

To what does he attribute his success in this business and what are the steps Burns has taken to succeed in commercial real estate? One word: teamwork.

“I have had the privilege of working with a number of icons in this business. Having been in it for the time I have has allowed me to learn a lot about what a great project is,” said Burns.

“Working with Bob Clark afforded me the opportunity to learn that a great project is not just the numbers, but how a project can positively impact an area both aesthetically and economically. Bob is the absolute best in that important weave and really sees beyond the walls of the project to the people inside and the community surrounding it.”

An avid golfer and traveler, Burns most enjoys spending time with family when not in the office.



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