Get to Know Mario Zandstra, President

Meet Mario Zandstra, President and new HLC Team Member!


Mario joined Holt Lunsford Commercial in 2023 and serves as the President.  Mario, in conjunction with Holt Lunsford, Founder and CEO, helps lead HLC.

Before joining HLC, Mario was the president or CEO of three organizations over a 25-year period. In addition, Mario worked for Transwestern Commercial Services, The Staubach Company, and CBRE.  Mario has extensive experience in office and industrial leasing, office and industrial development, investment acquisition, sales, and representing office tenants.

Mario was born in the Netherlands and moved to the United States with his parents at age two. He grew up in Los Angeles, California, where he had the privilege of attending the University of Southern California. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, an emphasis in marketing and sales, and a minor in Chemistry.

Mario has been married to his wife Lynelle for 40 years who he shares 7 children with. Now, with 12 grandchildren added to the mix, his family totals 27.

What brought you to HLC?
I have a long-term friendship with Holt. He and I have known each other for about 25 years. He and I discussed some things that he wanted to have at HLC. I’ve had the privilege of being the President and CEO of three different organizations, so I have skills in, leadership, mentoring staff, and helping people become everything they want to be. Holt said that’s exactly what I need. He invited me to come and be the president.

How do you hope to grow at HLC?
I’m an always learner. I think the moment you stop learning; you start going backwards. What I’m trying to learn is our company culture, our philosophy, and the why behind it all. I want to learn from our team what they think our future could be, in conjunction with what Holt and the leadership team think the organization can be. I want to maximize my background to help the organization flourish in the long run. In summary, I want to learn to be part of what I already think is a great team.

What about your role at HLC most excites or interests you?
I’m a gatherer of people. I think we have a unique opportunity, in this moment in time, to recruit what I would call experienced talent in different arenas within the organization. There are a lot of people that work for a lot of different platforms, that may not align with their personal values. HLC, as a values-oriented organization, has an opportunity to invite them into this company. I’ve spent a lot of time recruiting people. I don’t think I fully realized how much they long to work for somebody who aligns with their worldview. I’m excited about investing in and mentoring our younger staff. As a follower of Christ, I want to be salt and light. I want to be a good example to them, not just an example, but a good example. As I was dialoguing with one of our staff I asked him, “how can I best help you?” He said, “I want to have a broader perspective so that I can grow as a leader.”

Which HLC value resonates the most with you and why?
I would say the Golden Rule – Put Others First. Everybody has value, it doesn’t matter what your role or position is. It always goes back to my Christian ethic. We are all made in the image of God and the language there is that He’s an architect, creator. He’s a designer. He designed you one way. He designed me one way and it’s more than gender; it is our personalities, our style, how we live life. I want to be able to respect people.

What three words would you use to describe the HLC culture?
Smart, passionate, and team.

If you could tell one person “thank you” for helping me become the person you are today, who would it be and why?
Once again, I’m always going to go spiritual. Steve Mulhern, who is in the real estate business in Denver, we were fraternity brothers. In the darkest season of my life, he talked to me about eternal hope and what it meant to have a relationship with Christ. I grew up in a very religious neighborhood, although nobody really acted religious. They acted religiously on Saturdays and Sundays, but not Monday through Fridays. He was the first person to say, there is hope and it’s in something other than you and it’s in something other than your circumstances. It changed my life. December 7, 1977 and I have never been the same.

Who or what inspires you?
There is an author who has since passed away. His name is Dr. Timothy Keller, and he’s talked about what it means to live a life honoring God. He wrote a book called Counterfeit Gods. It’s a book on idolatry, which sounds funny. You and I probably wouldn’t go worship a wooden statue or a graven image, but we do all worship something. I think, you could worship money, sex, or power. I think you can even worship your spouse, your kids, your grandkids. They all make lousy saviors. Eventually, all of them will disappoint you. He’s probably had the greatest influence on my life.

What are three interesting things about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume?
I was a comedian and did a comedy act with another guy in college. We did a Blues Brothers impersonation act all over Southern California. We did it for three reasons. One, we were funny. Two, we both liked to sing. Three, we liked being quasi-famous. You probably also wouldn’t learn from my resume that my wife and I have done marriage conferences for 20-plus years all over the country. We’ve spoken in 75 cities, 30 states, and we just had our very last one. Over those 21 years, we’ve spoken to 50,000 people. Inviting them to think differently about their marriage. Then the third thing, I’m Poppy and my wife is Fluffy. That’s our grandparent names.

How do you define success?
Success, particularly as a team, is meeting or exceeding our mutually defined objectives. Candidly, sometimes you succeed by not meeting your goal because you learn. You do an autopsy on what you thought you could pull off and you step back and say, okay, what can we learn from that thing. I also think success is working hard, being honorable, trustworthy, and being the person you claim to be. For your clients, coworkers, and the people you hang around with.

How do you like to spend your free time?
I like to walk. I like to read. I love spending time with my wife. We like to travel. We’ve been to Europe four times, we’ve cruised the Mediterranean, we’ve been to Africa. We’ve been all over the United States. Never made it to Asia, that would be a bucket list item. Also hanging with the grandkids. Just love watching them grow up and investing in them. We’re a big family people, we’re a party of 27.

Where is the furthest you’ve traveled?
Lusaka, Zambia between just the flights alone is about 26 hours. Istanbul, Turkey. I’ve been there a couple of times. That’s a flight to Dubai, then a flight to Istanbul. That’s probably the same amount of time. The coolest place I’ve ever been to is Cape Town, South Africa.

What would you invent if you could?
Time travel. My wife and I are both history nuts, so I’d love to go back in time.

What can you teach me to do in five minutes?
I would talk to you about something called the art of the 15-minute meeting. The art of the 15-minute meeting is how to build a relationship, a beginning relationship, with somebody that you don’t know but you want to know. Here is how it works. One, you would study them ahead of time. You’d find out everything you needed to know about them ahead of time. During the 10 minutes, you would be curious and you would ask them a lot of questions about themselves. Ask them about their work, their family, where they go to college, what are the things that interest them, not too different from this. What I have found is, most people get bored talking about themselves at about the ten-minute mark. Then I would spend three minutes telling them a little bit about me, whatever would be appropriate based on what I heard from them. Then in the last two minutes, I would share with them why I felt like it was important for us to meet. After that, I would write them a handwritten note. I’m the king of handwritten notes. In this note, I would talk about something they told me about themselves and ask, “Can I pray for?” In probably 30 years of doing that, I’ve only had one person say I don’t want you to pray for me. And do you know what I did? I prayed for them anyway.

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Häagen-Dazs French Chocolate. Every once in a while, you get it where it has their coffee ice cream mixed in with it.

What character would you be in a book, movie or TV show?
My mother wanted me to host The Tonight Show. That was her dream when I was growing up.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you?
I’d like to have my wife, my Bible, and a photo of my extended family.

What’s your secret talent no one at work knows about?
I have a deep voice, a radio voice. My secret talent is that I’ve done voiceovers for peoples fundraising videos, and I just do it for free.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
I was speaking at a marriage conference in the spring and these marriage conferences have 800 to 1,200 people typically. I was sharing an illustration and I got so excited that I literally almost fell off the stage. I was going down, my wife screamed, and I caught myself. I made a smart-aleck comment that made the crowd roar with laughter.

If you could steal credit for any great piece of art, song, film or book, which one would you claim?
I would say the movie that moved me the most in my early Christian life was Chariots of Fire.

If you had to choose, what would your last meal be? No limits.
I asked my wife to marry me after we ate dinner at a dive restaurant called Herrera’s Mexican Food. That’s not what I would want my last meal to be, but when I went in on Monday and shared with my coworkers that we got engaged, my boss asked, “Where did you take Lynelle for dinner before you asked her?” I said Herrera’s, I didn’t have any money. I was an intern at CBRE. He said that’s ridiculous. You need to take her someplace nice. You have to invest in your life as husband and wife. I asked him, “Paul, where do I go?” And he says, “You need to go to the French room at the at the Adolphus.” We had a 5-course meal with fine wine that lasted 3 hours. Paul prepaid the dinner so that Lynelle and I could go to the French room.  I would go back to the French room and duplicate the two days late engagement dinner at the French room.


Welcome to HLC, Mario; we are glad you are here!