Vivian Turok finds success by aligning the needs of tenants and landlords
Vivian Turok hadn’t been on her public relations job long at Divaris Real Estate Inc. when Chairman Gerald Divaris asked for a favor. He had a conflict and couldn’t show a property. Could Turok do it? To sweeten the deal, he mentioned that she could receive 25 percent of the commission if the prospective tenant leased the space.
From that moment on, Turok was sold. “When the opportunity to show the space for Gerald and earn six times my monthly salary from one commission came along, I knew that was my kind of career,” she recalls of her foray into brokering deals. More than 38 years later, Turok is Divaris’ longest-standing employee and was its top producer last year, leasing approximately 500,000 square feet of space.
She also is one of Hampton Roads’ leading commercial real estate brokers. The Commercial Alliance, a council within the Hampton Roads Realtors Association, gave her the Platinum Commercial Sales and Leasing Achievement Award as one of southeastern Virginia’s top five grossing agents for 2014.
She also received the honor in 2009, becoming the first Hampton Roads woman to attain the Platinum Award level.
A senior vice president and member of Divaris’ Virginia Beach/Southside office team, Turok represents landlords and tenants in office leases. “The key is bringing the needs of both the tenant and the landlord into alignment,” she says. “What I try to do in all my transactions is to analyze the tenants’ long-term goals and objectives so as to enhance their business plan.”
That process played out last year when Turok and her team represented Armada Hoffler Properties in negotiations with USI Insurance for more than 19,000 square feet of office space in Town Center. The deal included a complete modification of the building’s electrical system and plumbing, additional lighting and signage and an extension of the entire front façade. USI kept its corporate office in Norfolk but brought 150 employees to Town Center. “Our team worked so long to find a tenant,” Turok notes. “Town Center is ideal for their needs. Both Norfolk and Virginia Beach scored on this deal.”
A native of South Africa, Turok graduated from the University of Cape Town. Faced with limited job prospects due to the nation’s poor economy, she readily agreed to a three-month trial doing public relations for Divaris Real Estate in Cape Town, a company co-founded by Zimbabwe natives Michael and
Gerald Divaris in 1974. Turok followed her husband, an architect, to Virginia Beach in 1986, where she began work in Divaris’ first U.S. office. “I’ve had the good fortune to work with two great mentors in Gerald and Michael Divaris,” she says. “They saw potential in me in South Africa.”
These days, Turok offers similar encouragement to colleagues entering the business. “When I mentor young people, I always tell them my principles,” she notes. “Life is a journey with its ups and downs, its challenges, its successes, and one should stay tenacious and focus on one’s goals. To try to be perfect is unrealistic, but what is important is to be true to oneself.”
As she closes in on 40 years with Divaris, Turok has no plans to slow down. “I really enjoy what I do,” she says. “I have a passion for this business and love helping companies continue to be successful.”