“Don’t be afraid to take risks”

My Best Advice

Credit: Lila Aryan Photography

James Borris

President and chief executive officer, Zilber Ltd.
Milwaukee
Industry: Real Estate
zilber.com
Employees: 300


“I started with Zilber Ltd. in 1986. Joe Zilber (the late founder of Towne Realty, which later became Zilber Ltd.) was such an engaging and interesting man who was also a successful entrepreneur. One of the things he always said to me was, ‘Don’t be afraid to take a risk, but make sure you understand the risk you are taking.’

“It might sound intuitive, but what it meant to Joe was take a deep dive of what could go wrong and the variables. Joe’s thought was: business is about risk; but be measured. Take the time to evaluate the scenarios, and judge how a relationship or a deal could go. That is something that stuck with me.”

“Another thing that has stuck with me is when I first met Joe, he wasn’t really interested in my education or business accomplishments – he just wanted to know who I was as a person. He wanted to know my personal passions. That’s how he truly screened people. It was a good lesson for me when bringing on a new board member or employee. Understanding the person is just as important as their business accomplishments.”

Age: 61

Professional experience: Borris holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He worked for seven years at Arthur Andersen & Co., in both its Milwaukee and Orange County offices, before joining Zilber Ltd. 32 years ago. Borris is a board member of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Chicago and a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.  He served as a co-chair of the 2018 United Performing Arts Fund’s fundraising campaign.

In the news: Zilber is currently planning a corporate park on a 70-acre site just west of Uline Inc. in Kenosha. The company has also purchased a 145-acre site in Germantown for the development of Germantown Gateway Corporate Park, which will be anchored by a 706,000-square-foot distribution facility for Briggs & Stratton Corp.

Credit: Lila Aryan Photography

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