Mark Siffin is the founder and CEO of Maefield a privately owned real estate company. Started in the 1990’s as a retail and residential home building company in the Midwest doing large mixed use planned communities in Indianapolis. From the success of Mark Siffin & Maefield’s developments led to several other ventures around the country.
Maefield has completed major urban renewal projects in some of the most iconic City Center locations in the US, including Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, Miami’s Ocean Drive, San Francisco’s Union Square, and New York’s Times Square. The firm focuses on acquiring and redeveloping underutilized but highly valuable urban properties, and is known for its award‐winning gateway market developments in the United States.
Its principals combine over 100 years of development experience, with deep in‐house expertise in land assemblage, design, and construction management. Over the last 25 years, Maefield has established an impressive track record, having successfully acquired, entitled, and developed over 5 million square feet of commercial space and nearly 5,000 single and multi‐family residences.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
The idea for Maefield Development came from my beliefs regarding interest rates. I had been on the floor of the mercantile exchange for many years where I’d been honing my ability to take advantage of price action in currencies and interest rate vehicles. The more I dealt with my understanding of interest rates and currencies as a pure trade, the more I saw a global backdrop. So understanding the direction of interest rates and the reason behind interest rate valuation gave me a window into how the coming years and decades will be prone to different types of economic activity and where one can make the greatest return from the application of monies. And so seeing that in a granular way struck me that interest rates would continue to go down for the coming decade so I felt real estate was the right play since the cost of 10 year money for the next 25 years would be low. Debt would be cheaper and returns on real estate would be ever more desired as well as stimulate a demand for housing. So ultimately, my true interest in launching Maefield was a sense of the direction and the cost of money and my belief that the cost would continue to fall.
Maefield was also a vehicle that as an individual I could attempt to harness what I envisioned the world would come to look like over the coming decades and how I could take advantage of it. The name itself was my daughter Mae’s idea.
How do you make money?
Maefiled makes money through development projects. For example in Times Square in New York City Maefiled Development has a partnership with the Witkoff Group in which it owns 50% of Times Square Gateway Center.
The Time Square Gateway Center is a mixed-use retail, signage, entertainment, and hotel project which is located at 701 Seventh Avenue. This development project features a 6-story retail and entertainment podium, LED facades, and topped with a 30‐story 450‐room Edition hotel tower managed by Marriott.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Maefield has been profitable since development projects began in the early 1990’s.
How did you get your first customer?
I got my first customer in my business because I came from their frame of mind in thinking…would you buy a dollar for a dime, and if the answer is yes, then how is it the proposition you have before them constitutes a dollar of value then?
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Developing great projects and establishing a name in the industry for any industry will lead to more business.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
A strategy to grow my business is being methodical and taking an iterative approach because it affords you the opportunity to find the right answer. I think when people become overly impressed with themselves then one is prone to make errors in judgements. I quit the foolish types of behaviors I had as a young man 44 years ago, and I take each action now very carefully because the scope of my responsibilities are so great. My mind constantly wanders to foolish places, but I have the discipline now to pull it back in so I can lead to extraordinary outcomes.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The most satisfying moment in businesses I ever had… inevitably depressed me because I always feel whatever minor success I have is so small compared to others like Mr. Jobs, Mr. Zuckerburg, Michelangelo, Da Vinci. Rosa Parks and on and on. When I’m lucky enough to accomplish small things, I immediately see them compared to those extraordinary people I just mentioned and I honestly feel so humbled and like my accomplishment is so small compared to what so many others have done, and it actually makes me depressed not happy.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
There are a lot of great Major Urban Mixed Use Development projects underway. We welcome you to visit our website to learn more.
What business books have inspired you?
The book I would recommend is Voltaire, Candid to remember the absurdities of life. I also love Victor Hugo. My life is overrun with obligations that I don’t read anymore…I don’t have the time to read. I’m trying to preserve my eyes for the act of painting. The majority of my time is taken up staring at a computer screen. That’s about all I get to read anymore.