Welcome to Business Innovators Magazine…Please introduce yourself and a brief thumbnail sketch of your background.
EW: My name is Eric M. Wohlwend. I have spent 13 years in the army as an Airborne, Sapper, medic and instructor. My degree is in Pre-Med. In 2003 I started investing full time in real estate. After 2 years I owned 20 units. During this time I put together systems to buy and manage properties these properties. In 2010 we opened the real estate brokerage, Clear Sky Realty, Inc. so we could provide these services to others. I now control hundreds of single family, multi-family units as well as commercial units, mobile home parks, and storage facilities. The systems, and the team, that I put together allow us to manage these and hundreds of other units for our many owners.
BI: What would you say is the area in business that you are most passionate about and why?
EW: Leadership and negotiation. There are 2 main ways to make money investing. You can buy right and you can manage right. With great management you can take a decent deal and make it great over time. Leading, providing systems and guidance is a big part of managing any piece of real estate. With residential rental properties it is even more important than other types of investments. I love to see the results in the neighborhoods and on the P&L statements after we reposition a large complex and take it from 1/3 occupancy to 90% in just a few years. The tenants enjoy where they live more. The owners are happy with their investment and I can see what a difference I made!
BI: How are you different than your competitors?
EW: I started as an owner. Many of the other managers were Realtors first. Still others just have a job. I look at every property as if I owned it. It is not enough to get 2 bids on a job. You need to evaluate each large project to see if there is a better way to do it. When you manage other people’s investments you have to know you work for them, but you also have to keep the tenants happy. Knowing where to draw the line as to how much to improve a property in relation to the neighborhood it is in makes a huge difference in tenant retention and on expense costs. Constantly learning and being involved so I can make these decisions is what sets my company apart from others.
BI :Why are you in this business?
EW: Time and family. Running a business takes time, but I get to choose the times it takes. There is nothing more important than setting a good example and being there for your family. This allows me to teach my sons the values of honesty, drive, good work ethics and still be there for their tournaments and just to have fun with them. It allows me to be there for my parents and grandparents when they need anything. It also allows me to provide a comfortable place for hundreds of families to come home to. I spent many years in the medical field making people’s lives better. Now I choose to improve lives by providing better housing to residents and better returns to investors.
BI: Please tell me about any recent business accomplishments that you are most proud of and why?
EW: I was recently asked to co-author a book about Leadership in Business. I am honored that I was asked to be in this book and am looking forward to it’s release on Amazon in January.
BI: What Leadership qualities in Leaders do you most admire and why?
EW: I like leaders that lead by example. Leaders that are congruent. Leaders that honor their word. I admire the ones that still know that your word and your contracts say everything about you. Too many people say one thing and do another. They say all the right things at work, but then you meet their family and know that they are not living to a high standard in every aspect of their lives. You can tell a lot about a person by meeting their children. Raising the next generation is the most important leadership roll most people will be in. If a child is honest and respectful their parents usually are also.
BI: What has been a key element of your success?
EW: Tell people what you are going to do. Then do it. Someone once told me that if you have to tell someone something they will not like look them in the eye. They still won’t like it, but they will respect you for it. I do this whenever I can. If you agree with everyone just to make them happy you will never make it. Give your best honest assessment of every problem or situation. Make a plan and then stick to the plan. If you just say what you are going to do and then never quit until it is done you will be a success.
BI: What are some of business projects that you are currently working on that you are excited about and why?
EW: With the changes in the real estate markets we just finished repositioning a few large apartment complexes. Now I’m excited to see all of the great deals on a variety of other investments. In the last few months we have picked up multiple 1-4 family’s as well as a storage facility. These are very different to manage, and I expect them to do very well in these new economic times. The new generation is not excited about buying a home like I was. They want a nice place to live, but are happy renting. This will be great for the rental industry.
BI: What are 1 or 2 things you would like to say to a prospective client who stumbles across this interview?
EW: If you were a lender you would want to borrower to have skin in the game. Why would you want a manager that does not have skin in the game? Buying investment real estate is not liquid. It is a long term investment. Hire the right management company and you will maximize your investment returns for years. Talk to your manager and find out about their track record. Too many clients focus only on the management fees and don’t really look at the big picture. The important number is the bottom line. Hire a company with experience and one that has goals that are aligned with yours. I’m always happy to help if you have more questions.