owner, Sunset Investors and EZ Self Storage
Company: Sunset Investors and EZ Self Storage
Education: BS from MSOE in architectural engineering, MS in civil engineering from Marquette. Registered professional engineer.
City of Residence: Greendale
Family: Wife, Diane; two daughters, Lisa Severson and Jill Riefel, and three grandchildren ages 2, 5 and 6.
Hobbies and Interests: "I enjoy doing things with the grandkids. The last couple years we have managed to get everyone to our house in Minocqua at the same time and gotten out boating and fishing. For myself, I like my big boy toys. I have a 1929 Ford Model A Street Rod that was at one time in the World of Wheels show, and I am still finishing up a 400+ hp 1950 Chevy Coupe. For toys, my motto is the more chrome and horsepower the better."
What are you working on? "I have purchased a couple of smaller commercial mixed use buildings that required extensive renovations, including another one this week that is being added to my EZ Self Storage facility in Franklin. Earlier projects I developed were mainly new construction condominiums. Lately, the majority of my projects have been renovations. I have four of these under way right now. The largest is the renovation of the Pritzlaff Building in the Third Ward (www.pritzlaffbldg.com). That is a collection of 5 buildings dating back as far as 1875, which at 265,000 square feet covers almost a full block. The first of the new commercial tenants have now moved in, and I hope to get the residential portion of the project going yet this year."
How does the market look to you? "Even though the real estate market is down, there are still some deals that get done. There is pent up demand with a lot of residential and commercial buyers and tenants waiting for a more stable economy. I think that we are near the bottom now, and by the later part of 2009, the low interest rates will start an upturn."
What is the best deal you have ever been involved in? "Probably one of my diversifications from the real estate business. Ten years ago, my brother Tim and I purchased Coating Place, Inc, in Verona, a fluid bed coating company for pharmaceutical, and specialty chemical applications. It was originally a WARF spinoff from the UW School of Pharmacy. Tim manages that business along with my two other brothers Tom and Terry. We have increased sales to four times what they were, and increased employment from 30 to 100. We have also developed and patented some very promising extended release liquid suspension drug delivery systems that should substantially contribute to business growth in the near future."
What is the funniest moment in your career? "I conduct lien sales for the miniwarehouses. I once was selling a tenant’s storage unit, and he wanted to buy his property back at a discount at the sale. So he shaved off all of his hair, put on a disguise that made him look 50 pounds heavier, and spoke in a heavy accent. Then he tried to convince everyone at the sale that the contents were all useless junk so he could buy it."