I owe my success in large part to having great role models, which includes a long family history of entrepreneurship. On my father's side, my great grandfather was a farmer who started and ran two restaurants. My grandparents started a TV and appliance store, and other related businesses. My father's only sibling, my uncle, was a doctor and partner in a pediatric clinic.
On my mother's side, my grandfather was an engineer who ran a business teaching
- teaching business and interpersonal skills. My grandmother worked in university administration, and she eventually started and ran a secondhand clothing store. My mother's only sibling, my other uncle, built a number of large and successful companies.
My most important role models were my parents. My dad worked long hours as an architect, eventually becoming an owner and CEO of one of the largest architectural firms in Kansas (
). My mom worked nights and weekends as a nurse, and she started her own business teaching Lamaze classes (
I gained a strong work ethic, and a spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy, from everyone in my family.
1987 (14 years old)
I take my grandpa's Dale Carnegie course for developing personal and professional success. I impress a business owner in the class and he gives me my first job, which is a summer job doing data entry for his engineering firm (The CAD Room
After a year of college I choose Economics as my major. I want to learn how to look professional, so I get a job at a local men's clothing store (Johnston's Clothiers
) selling and tailoring men's suits.
I get married, we have a child, and I drop out of school to work full-time. I work construction (at Walz, Harmon & Huffman
) where I meet the employees of a subcontractor (Great Plains Communications
) and get hired to be a telecommunications technician. I eventually work my way up to telecom sales. My favorite part of the job is studying the technical manuals.
I start taking classes again, with the help of an on-campus job working for the WSU Telecommunications Department
. Personal computers and the internet are beginning to gain widespread popularity (see article
), so I start a side business (Access Computers & Upgrades
) designing websites, installing computer parts, and building custom computers.
After getting divorced I need to balance school and work with having my kids Monday through Friday. I get a job at a preschool (Discovery Place
), to be around my kids while working. I spend my evenings and weekends focused on school.
I finish my Philosophy degree with a minor in Math, but I can't find a better job. There is a global recession
, so I stay at the preschool and enroll in graduate school
. My degree track is social statistics, which focuses on using statistical software (IBM's SPSS
) to analyze large demographic datasets.
The economy has recovered, and I begin looking for a career that can provide financial opportunities for my family. After reading Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations
, I choose a career in real estate. I want to learn how to analyze real estate, so I approach the city's largest appraisal firm (Martens Appraisal
) and get hired as a research assistant.
I complete my master's degree. That same year I am hired by a client of the appraisal firm, to become the first researcher at his new hotel company (Value Place). The client's name is Jack DeBoer - founder of Residence Inn
, Summerfield Suites (rebranded HYATT House
), Candlewood Suits
, Value Place (rebranded WoodSpring Suites
), and WaterWalk
I advance quickly at Value Place (aka Woodspring Suites). When I started at the company there are only a handful of hotels and I am the only analyst. Over the next two years I develop proprietary research and analysis tools, and I build the Research and Market Planning Department. My department has a large staff, and it is ultimately responsible for helping develop approximately 240 extended-stay hotels.
I eventually want to become a real estate developer, so I start small. In my spare time I begin purchasing old houses and fixing them up to resell or hold as rentals. I teach myself how to repair and install everything: flooring, tiling, sheetrock & paint, windows & doors, framing, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and many other miscellaneous items.
I am offered a job by the WSU Center for Real Estate
. I decide to take the job, because it offers the opportunity to learn about research from an academic perspective. I am hired as the university's first real estate analyst (see article
I develop my first apartment project, as the co-developer of a Downtown historic preservation project (see article
). We convert the original Wichita High School into a 68-unit apartment complex. The project uses historic preservation tax credits, and the property gets listed on the National Register of Historic Places
I decide to leave the university and focus full-time on real estate development. I start my own real estate company (JVSCo). Over the next 9 years I will launch several real estate related businesses and develop over 350 housing units. During that time I will also become a nonprofit and community leader (see News Coverage
I partner with the owners of a 100-acre business park (Ventures Business Park) to create a master plan for development. The plan includes apartments, hotels, office, and retail. I work on developing the apartments, and I help to bring a major gas station (Quik Trip
) and other new projects to the development.
I break ground on Chisholm Lake Apartments
, which is a 216 unit, $18 million, apartment project. It was part of my master plan for Ventures Business Park. The project is a "proof of concept" for my new innovative housing model (see article
I launch the Kansas Rural Housing Coalition
(KRHC). KRHC is a yearlong initiative that focuses on educating Kansas communities about the affordable housing crisis. I lead the initiative with support from the Kansas Leadership Center, the Kansas Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and 200 business and community leaders.
I spearhead the Kansas Housing Research Project
, which is one of the largest housing studies ever completed. The project involves compiling, analyzing, and summarizing hundreds of housing data sets, and creating an 84-page housing study for every city and county in Kansas. The result is over 720 reports totaling 60,000+ pages of housing research and analysis.
I launch Multifamily Hospitality
, which is an innovative property management company. A small staff is trained to handle all property responsibilities, which include management, maintenance, and value added service like apartment cleaning and dog walking. I create simple computer programs (using Visual Basic) that automate repetitive administrative tasks.
I build a 72-unit urban infill apartment project in Downtown Wichita, which is my proof of concept for lower cost and higher quality apartments targeting the average renter. The model creates high quality apartments that are value engineered to cost up to 30% less than other new apartment developments. Rents started at $750 a month, and no government subsidies were used to finance the project.
2020 is the COVID pandemic, and I spend the year in self-isolation. During that time I study computer programming and technologies like artificial intelligence. I want to create more advanced tools for researching, analyzing, and developing housing.
After getting vaccinated I give away everything I own, move into my Prius (see videos
), and head to Silicon Valley. I study programming and develop new research and analysis tools. I live in my car, because I cant afford the rents in Silicon Valley. Car living also gives me the ability to constantly travel and see the types of housing being developed across the U.S.