Written by: Kaitlin Schroeder Staff Reporter Dayton Business Journal
The Schueler Group has been beefing up its executive ranks and making plans to expand in the Dayton area.
But, as always, its plans are at a careful pace.
The Lebanon-based real estate company, which includes Henkle Schueler & Associates, Bunnell Hill Development and Bunnell Hill Construction Services, has stood the test of time for 82 years and is now one of the largest land owners in the region.
It survived the recession. It once owned a fourth of the land in Springboro. And now it’s planning its next steps.
This comes as the company went from $76.51 million in revenue to $46.18 million in revenue from 2015 to 2016. Before that, it had several years of growth, up from $52.85 million in 2013.
But President Michael Schueler said that’s the nature of the business. Pulling from one of his many go-to phrases, he said the development business is like a merry-go-round with economic circle and “the key is to not fall off the horse.”
“We just had a couple big sales one year and didn’t have them the next year,” Schueler said. “The frustration is that it is always going to bounce around, but this year will be a very good year and next year will be an outstanding year.”
“I think I just got my order,” joked Eric Joo, the new chief operating officer, who is about two months into the new job.
The former Miller-Valentine Groups executive is the company’s most recent addition to the leadership and brings Dayton development expertise that could help the company grow in the Miami Valley.
Joo said the company is absolutely looking at Dayton as an expansion, and his knowledge of Dayton can help the company grow there, though it will take some time to see the fruits of the effort.
“Real estate development has a very long lead time. It can take a project a year and a half to get through … We’re reaching out and looking at a couple of key things,” he said.
The company represents about 90 workers when counting contractors, with closer to 30 or 40 salaried employees.
Schueler Group is already one of the largest land owners in the region with about 21 industrial and business parks spanning from northern Kentucky up to the Dayton area near the Interstate 70 and 75 interchange. That’s a total of 3,000 acres, with 1,930 acres available for development.
Its footprint has waxed and waned. About 40 years ago, Schueler said the company owned over 25 percent of the land in the village of Springboro, selling the land for development of local points like La Comedia and Kroger.
Schueler enjoys driving through the suburb and looking at the footprint of the company’s past developments and sales.
“I kind of get a kick out of that,” he said.
Today the company still has about 150 acres concentrated around State Route 73. At the same time, the area an exit north at Austin Boulevard has thrived while Route 73 hasn’t got quite the same love.
Schueler and Joo said the company wants to see the corridor have the same kind of upkeep and investment as its neighbor.
“We’re taking a long look at our land and how to improve it. I think they’ve focused too much on Austin (Boulevard),” Schueler said.
“There’s been so much focus on the Austin Boulevard interchange, that the exit north and south have been ignored. We really see there needs to be a reconfiguration on State Route 73 going through Springboro. It’s really the front door of the community,” he said.
At their business parks across their footprint, with national and international companies acquiring local businesses, Schueler said the ideal customer to be placed in one of their business parks is a local business they can build a relationship with.
“In the industrial side, our best customer is an individual entrepreneur. Someone who maybe started his business in his garage and knows how to do one thing well. And as he has grown, we can communicate very well with him because we can sit in this room and make a deal,” Schueler said. “If the approval has to go to Chicago, New York, or London or Osaka, they quickly would say ‘Who are those guys? And they aren’t really worthy or big enough to do business with us.'”
Schueler has been with the company for going on 43 years, or about half of the business’ history. He’s a reader of five newspapers a day, an avid supporter of the arts and a frequent dispenser of favorite phrases he’s accumulated over his career like “I’m in the get rich slow business.” He and his wife’s second home in South Carolina has been key to taking the occasional break from the office, because “if I’m in town, I’m here.”
Schueler said he loves the nature of working in the development business.
“I love what we’re doing. Because it’s so diverse, when we come in we have no idea what we’re going to do today,” he said.
“My leading motivation is this company continue. I don’t have any offspring that are interested in it. My number one goal is this company has operated with pride for 82 years and I’m determined that it keeps going at the same way — that’s the same ethical way — we’ve been doing it,” he said.
This article was featured in the Dayton Business Journal on August 10, 2017.