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Who Says There’s No Hope in Real Estate?

Three property-related firms’ CEOs make it to the “Oscars” of entrepreneurs.

Property professionals may be losing their faith in the industry but there’s certainly more to expect in the future with the recent Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year national awardees. Three of the nine industry category winners all have grabbed the recession by its horns with a lot of profit potential.

Although the overall award was won by Roseta Stone’s CEO Tom Adams (a polyglot who steered the language software company’s business further into attaining global recognition), these three professionals should be admired for braving the challenges of the economy in the most heavily confounded sector.

Construction firm APi Group in Minnesota has a lot to boast about its services. That’s made possible by its 33 companies that range from fire protection to specialty construction. Its chairman, Lee Anderson, Sr. started working at his father’s small plumbing company and grew the business by acquiring other companies along the way. His hard work did pay off and now APi Group is worth $1.6 billion. Anderson was the recipient in the Real Estate, Hospitality and Construction Category.

Sure, San Diego will find it harder to recover from the wave of foreclosures in California but Ernest Rady, chairman of Insurance Company of the West and founder of real estate firm American Assets, Inc, will never be afraid of anything. The winner in the Financial Services Category, Rady started out as a small real estate investor in the Golden State. The Ernst & Young profile states, “One of the first opportunities he came across was a real estate developer who needed $35,000 to finish an apartment building in El Cajon, Calif. Rady trusted the developer and invested the money, finishing the building and renting all the units. That ledt o buying the next vacant lot on the street and then another, starting a successful string of real estate investments that eventually led to the formation of American Assets, now one of the largest real estate groups in the San Diego region.” Now, this is something every novice real estate investor should replicate.

Finally, Robert Klein, CEO of Safeguard Properties, is in the best period of his career. That’s because his Cleveland-based provides inspection and preservation foreclosed homes. If there’s any property downturn-proof business that’s effective, then this should be it. Klein, once a New York City cab driver, taught of ways to test his entrepreneurial skills. The result is his mortgage field services company that inspects more than a million houses a month. Klein won in the Services Category.

These three men teach us that in this industry, starting small is just the first step in making it big.

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