The Last Word: The Optimist

Peter Ogden


Ogden & Company Inc.

Industry: Real estate

1665 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI  53202

Employees: 225

Coolest thing about the company: “The people. We truly are a family.”

These are the darkest days to be in the commercial real estate industry since the Great Depression. Yet, you wouldn’t know that from talking to Peter Ogden. Whether he’s making dozens of site visits, giving advice to clients or golfing in a charity outing, Ogden remains upbeat and is putting the slowdown in historical perspective.

“My grandfather started the family real estate business on Oct. 29, 1929 – not a good date for new ventures. It didn’t stop him from building a successful real estate and development company. Tough economic times come and go. How we deal with them makes all the difference between success and failure in the long term.

“My father, John Ogden Sr., continued the business and went through all the economic ups and downs over many years. Such experiences give people valuable perspective, sharpen determination and provide needed wisdom.

“Now here we all are in the midst of, arguably, the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. Most of us now in business have not experienced anything quite like it. What can we learn from the generation that had it a lot tougher than we have had until now and still survived?

“First of all, failure was not in the minds of those who saw it through. We must believe in ourselves and do what is necessary in our own situations to assure that we will still be on our feet when the economy turns around.

“Further, we need to help our clients and our employees believe in their efforts and have hope in the future. It is very important to communicate this to our people.

“My father’s generation was wise with their resources. They stuck to what they did best and were financially prudent – in good times and bad. Finally, they maintained a rich sense of humor, regardless of circumstances – something we must cultivate in these times. We all like to do business with people who are upbeat!

“I feel I will be doing my part for the future by staying positive, using common sense and maintaining a sense of humor. Things really will get better!”

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