JEVS recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, and would never be able to help clients find their place – without having multiple worksites to make hope happen. For more than 40 years, SSH Real Estate, one of the region’s largest privately held commercial real estate companies, has been helping JEVS and its other clients launch their operations from all parts of Philadelphia and beyond. But what you may not know is that SSH has a long history of philanthropy, including serving as a key backbone of our most important annual client success and networking event, Strictly Business.
We sat down with Jeff Seligsohn, partner at SSH Real Estate and JEVS Board of Directors member, to discuss problem-solving our region’s critical needs and the need for collaboration to solve all challenges – big and small.
Q. Let’s start at the beginning. Who is SSH Real Estate?
A. SSH Real Estate (stands for Seligsohn, Soens, Hess), is a full-service real estate firm, focusing on commercial real estate. While it can be complex, we do three key things: We represent organizations and businesses when they want to find new space; we work with landlords to help them lease their buildings; and we also have a property management business, so we manage office buildings – including the Wells Fargo Building on S. Broad Street, which many people remember as Duke & Duke from Trading Places!
Q. Interesting! How did you become personally involved with JEVS?
A. Robert Hess, my former business partner, was a board member of JEVS for more than 20 years, and had helped JEVS with their real estate needs for over 35 years. I joined with Bob in the mid-90s, and when he left the JEVS Board, I spoke with Jay and was honored to be asked to join the board. It was very easy, and felt – still feels – like a very natural relationship.
Q. How so?
A. Well, the JEVS board is a really warm, welcoming place. My knowledge of JEVS is from the program level – through the years, if a requirement came up for office space, I would get the call, so in order to ensure the best “fit”, I’d learn about the programs and the clients JEVS would be looking to serve.
Q. What are the critical needs you see in the region?
A. I have a real passion for what JEVS does in helping the city’s youth. That could be mentoring, giving them the skills to go to college, or to get a career, or to learn a trade, or even preparing them just for life skills or their next step – it’s a big concern and that’s where I want to spend my time.
I also like the work that Orleans (Technical College) and JEVS at Home do. I’ve been visiting some home sites recently in the Northeast, and that work is incredibly important in allowing people to live in comfort and with dignity.
Q. What’s your personal philosophy?
A. I don’t know that I’ve really ever thought about it in that way! I do know that I’ve always enjoyed helping people solve problems, whether that’s employees and coworkers or for our clients that we serve at SSH.
Q. It sounds like that relates quite a bit to your work on the Board at JEVS!
A. Possibly. The commitment and the dedication of the JEVS staff – I’m so proud of the team effort and of the people who work here. I was thinking about the instructors and the caregivers and the case managers, and how wonderful it is when everyone works together to try and resolve individual, local and regional challenges.
Q. So where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you see JEVS in five years?
A. Five years is too short – I see myself involved with JEVS for the next 20! The time and energy I’ve put into it has been nothing compared to what I’ve learned from my involvement on the board. In fact, I and my family have enjoyed it so much, that my daughter will be learning and mentoring as part of the Ash Internship Program this summer.
Q. So it’s the old story of “not only a member but also a client!”
A. It sure is. I’m excited to help JEVS grow, continue to refine its purpose and expand its mission to provide opportunity for so many more individuals.