I attended a lot of meetings as a kid. I have a degree in economics and a master’s in real-estate finance, but from listening to my father talk about the business, I picked things up without even realizing it: How to deal with stress. How to be patient, strategic, and conservative. How to negotiate and not overreact. Being exposed to those things made me a better businessperson. Things came naturally to me that I don’t think would have to someone without that exposure.
Michigan began its economic downturn before the rest of the country. We asked ourselves, “How do we make money during the recession? How can we take calculated risks and learn from the past?” You’d think [a recession] would help the apartment industry, but we deal with higher-end projects, so that didn’t help our niche. We made cuts and changes to stay in business, to grow, and to be opportunistic when we can.
I hope my children want to become involved in Beztak. It’s been rewarding for my family to see me grow the business, and as a parent I would love that, too.
I take great satisfaction in seeing projects that I’ve been involved with come to life. They’re not cookie-cutter. There’s a lot of sweat and blood, and some projects take five years or more to get off the ground. To see something that we spent hours and hours contemplating, that we designed, developed, and built—to drive by and see people moving in and living there and hearing the feedback—is very rewarding.
I had to work harder because I was the “boss’s son,” no question. I think many people in my position come on too strong. To be a successful leader you need the buy-in of your staff and to build a rapport with people whose careers are on the line, who need to know that you’re making the right decisions.
My guiding principles in life are honesty, friendship, family. Those are the key things for me.
By the time you know what the consumer wants it’s already old. We’re not building with other people’s money. It’s ours, and our future, and my children’s and my family’s future. We look hard at what we’re building and designing and make sure that it’s versatile, that it’s unique, doesn’t cut corners, and is innovative.
The real estate cliché—location, location, location—as cheesy as it sounds, is still meaningful. At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with that.
The demographics of the renter have changed. People are more mobile, turnover is higher, and the apartment concept is a short-term decision, not a long-term one. I don’t agree with the trend now of building smaller, micro units. We build a livable, functional, and comfortable residence: a real home.