Zachary Harrison – Co-Founder & President, Platinum Drive Realty

Zachary Harrison is the president of Platinum Drive Realty, a full-service real estate firm assisting clients with properties located in Westchester, Manhattan, and Connecticut.

Zach founded Platinum Drive with his wife, Heather, and her grandmother, Sunny, who has been in the real estate business for over 40 years. The firm was created out of a belief that real estate should be a rewarding, professional and first-rate experience, with highly personalized, outstanding client service. The market has responded to the firm’s energetic and innovative approach. In 2015, Platinum Drive was honored in Inc. Magazine as one of the 1000 fastest-growing private companies in America and the fastest-growing real estate firm in the tri-state area.

Zach grew up in Westchester and attended Scarsdale High School, where he met his future wife, Heather. He went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a Master’s in Government Administration, and Fordham Law School, where he graduated in the top 20% of his class and was recognized as a four-time member of the dean’s list.

Prior to founding Platinum Drive, Zach worked in the investment banking division of one of the world’s largest banks, and as an attorney for an international law firm, where he handled substantial transactional matters, including the sale and financing of real estate and other assets. Zach also successfully litigated various complex commercial disputes on behalf of major clients in state and federal courts in New York and other jurisdictions throughout the United States, and served as an in-house counsel for an industry trade association. He has successfully closed over 500 transactional matters during the course of his career, and ensures that Platinum Drive agents handle all matters promptly and professionally, with the utmost care and discretion.

Zach has a strong belief in giving back to the community, and is involved in various philanthropic causes including the Four Diamonds Fund, which supports the fight against pediatric cancer, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

In 2015, 2016, and 2017, Zach was recognized along with his colleagues in the REAL Trends/The Wall Street Journal “The Thousand” as one of the top real estate teams in the United States and the #1 real estate team by sales volume in Westchester County.

A broker committed to achieving the absolute best results for Platinum Drive clients, Zach is a member of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, the Connecticut MLS, Greenwich MLS, and the National Association of Realtors. Zach resides in the suburbs of New York City with his wife, Heather, and their children, Hayley and Jack.

Tell me about your early career.
I worked for an international law firm performing transactional work, litigation, as well as intellectual property law. I like to work in different areas and job functions, which really helps as an executive and business owner. I’ve always been interested in owning a business as well as public service. When I was growing up, it seemed that my friend’s parents, who had the most freedom, were successful business owners and that really made an impact on me. Also, my grandfather was friendly with President Kennedy in Boston and I heard a lot of stories about him growing up.

How did the concept for Platinum Drive Realty come about?
My wife and I purchased a home in the suburbs of New York City and we really shocked by how behind the times the real estate industry seemed to be. It was almost as if we were in a time machine back to a different era. We saw a real opportunity in the market for an exciting, cutting-edge real estate firm.

How was the first year in business?
It was really exciting and the support of friends and family was really special. I think a mistake some entrepreneurs make is thinking you can hide in a room somewhere and create a great business. You can’t do it alone. You need to be out there talking about your business, especially in the early days when you don’t have a large marketing budget.

What was your marketing strategy?
Our marketing strategy was to do everything possible to deliver outstanding results to our clients and simply outwork any others competing for the business. One happy client would tell two friends, and they would tell four friends who would become clients, and so on. Word of mouth is how to build a business with staying power.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We started carefully because the general market started to turn a few years after we started. We reinvested in our business and really stepped on the gas after the market began to rebound. We have been named in Inc. Magazine’s list of America’s fastest-growing companies for many years since.

How do you define success?
My definition of success is such that very few ever achieve it – companies and leaders that have changed people’s lives for the better on a massive scale and transformed the world in ways that no one thought possible. That’s the kind of success I’m referring to.

What is the key to success?
To achieve success on any level, you have to work extremely hard and be extremely persistent. I have seen some people just give up so they can do other things, which is fine, but to succeed in business, you have to focus like a laser on growing your business and making clients happy.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The United States, for all our challenges, is still the greatest country on the face of the earth. Take advantage of the opportunities and don’t be afraid to fail. If you have a great idea you think can make a positive impact, go for it!

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Just Do It” – Nike
“We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last.” – John F. Kennedy

What are some of your favorite books?
One of my favorite business books is Start Small, Finish Big by Fred DeLuca.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
At the bottom of the real estate market in 2009, deals were challenging because it was difficult to get financing. On one day in 2009, we had a very large deal fall through because the buyers were unable to get financing, even through they had good jobs. That was a tough day. Some firms were not able to make it through those times, but we were very blessed to be able to make it through and thrive in the years that followed.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Some people look at successful people and think it was a smooth road that happened overnight. There are going to be challenges as you go. I know we had something when the high-end firms approached us hoping to acquire us, and the low-end firms starting getting upset and tried to play games to slow our success. It only made us work a thousand times harder and grow our business even more. You have to take it as a compliment. If you weren’t accomplishing anything, no one would care. The key is to recognize it for what it is and fight very hard.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Have a bias towards action. Don’t only think about it, but take a step forward every day on the path to the objective you are seeking to reach. Keep costs in check in the early days, especially if you don’t have capital. When making big company decisions, use conservative projections. If it still looks good with careful projections, then you’ll know the answer.

This interview was conducted for research purposes by Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.