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Keefer Tasked with Continuing Hinerfeld’s Legacy


Scranton, Lackawanna County, PA - John Cognetti is proud of the way he’s been able to carry on the legacy of Scranton-based Hinerfeld Commercial Real Estate since purchasing the company in 1985.



He’s equally as confident in its future after Colin G. “Griff” Keefer took over as owner and president in the fourth quarter of 2020.


Cognetti sees many of the same traits in Keefer that Sydney Hinerfeld, who founded Hinerfeld Realty Co. in 1934 possessed.

“Sydney was involved in a lot of sales and development, and bringing businesses to Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Cognetti said. “He developed many friends and acquaintances outside the market. Griff has the same skill set for business and contacts, and the integrity to carry that part of the company forward.”


Cognetti will continue in an active role as an assistant broker and member of the firm’s board of directors.

Keefer, 53, of Kingston , who joined the commercial real estate team at Hinerfeld in 2012, stressed the importance of brokers guiding their clients through the market so they can be informed when making deals.


“The deals can range from a couple hundred thousand dollars to a couple million dollars or more, so it can be very significant money at stake if you’re uneducated in the practice of commercial real estate,” Keefer said.


Keefer hopes to continue Cognetti’s mission of establishing Hinerfeld as a company that is prevalent in the entire region.

“I’d like to steer us into having a broader product line and also be known as not just a Scranton-based organization, but a Northeastern Pennsylvania-based organization that serves seven counties,” he said.


That plan is already in the works as the company will open an office in Wilkes-Barre later this year, Keefer said.


Keefer has been involved with several significant commercial real estate deals, including serving as the listing agent for the sale of the Ramada Hotel to King’s College in downtown Wilkes-Barre for $2.7 million in 2013.


The new owner credits Cognetti for building Hinerfeld into a leader in the industry.


“He has done a tremendous job of making commercial real estate in Northeastern Pennsylvania a real profession that is done locally by people who are skilled,” Keefer said. “Years ago, there wasn’t that skill set here. John created a firm that is the consummate professional, experienced and knowledgeable entity in the market.”


Cognetti, 70, of Benton Twp., formerly of Scranton, has a background in architecture and co-founded the Architectural Heritage Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania in the late 1970s .


“This area, and particularly Scranton, had more money on deposits in banks than San Francisco did during the Gold Rush era,” he said. “At one time, this city and this region was a very strong player in the development of the entire country.”


That wealth created significant pieces of architecture and Cognetti was determined to keep them as part of the city.


“One of my reasons for getting involved in real estate after I came back to Scranton from college was trying to figure out how we could reuse some of the beautiful buildings and save them from being demolished,” he said. “Today, you see the fruits of that in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton where these buildings are being converted, restored and preserved.”


A few examples of the transformations include the Connell Building on North Washington Avenue in Scranton and the Scranton National Bank Building on Lackawanna Avenue , which were turned into apartments.


Anthony Baldo, 49, of Laflin , joined Hinerfeld in November as the new broker of record. He has worked with Keefer at various organizations over the past 20 years and looks forward to assisting the company’s various agents.


“The most important thing to me is to be there for each of the agents,” he said. “We have an experienced team, however as we bring on new agents it’s critical I’m there to help train and guide them into their career.”


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