Real Estate profile: Robert Ornst Jr.

CEO and president, Selzer-Ornst Company

Company: Selzer-Ornst Company
Title: CEO and president
Education: Arizona State University, bachelor of science degree in construction engineering management.
City of Residence: Wauwatosa
Family: Wife, Mary; daughter, Allison; son, Matt
Hobbies and Interests: Racquetball, tennis, reading
What are you working on? "Currently we are just finishing up the remodeling of the 230,000-square-foot project for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Milwaukee. Other current projects include the remodeling of the Miller Brewing Company Tour Center, construction of a new parking structure for the Ambassador Hotel, construction of the Hart Park amphitheater and stage, remodeling of the International Autos dealership on Highway 100, expansion of The Private Bank in the historic 735 N. Water Street building in downtown Milwaukee, tenant build-out for the Friends of Housing corporate office project in Milwaukee, and about 45 other projects."
How does the market look to you? "At this point in time, it is a very mixed market.  There is some activity amongst our present customers and inquiries and requests for proposals from new customers. The volatility in the economy, along with the housing downturn, I believe will have a long term effect for the next 18 to 24 months. For Selzer-Ornst Co., we are steady, but the backlog is not a strong as we would like."
What was the best deal you have ever been involved in? "This is a difficult question to answer, as we have had numerous projects where they have been extremely rewarding and allowed us to learn a lot about another industry. One of those projects was the construction of the William F. Eisner Museum of Advertising in the Third Ward. The super-eclectic design and materials incorporated into the museum and the removal of two of the existing building columns presented tremendous challenges that we were able to meet. These efforts resulted in a fabulous museum – one of only a few in the entire United States."
What was the funniest moment of your career? "Although the environment at Selzer-Ornst Company is all business, I thrive on people having fun and laughing a lot. A couple of times each year, I take the office staff on office outings – a way to unwind and have a good time.  One of these outings was go-carting at an indoor track in West Bend. Although no bumping was allowed, our people had so much fun that I think laughter interfered with their driving skills. It was a pleasure to watch everyone participate in this event."

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