When I bought my first property, I never expected property management to be a career. It was supposed to be a sideline–a little extra rental income with some property appreciation thrown in. I was calmly holding down a full time sales job when the folks that were managing my properties (and many others) decided to retire. They said they couldn’t think of anyone to recommend to the other owners they managed for except me. So, my choice was to either get into property management or be left with several other owners with noone to handle the rental and maintenance activities. It felt less like a job opportunity and more like a career by default. Then, I started to see the difference I might be able to make at KI Sawyer. I’ve never looked back.
Our mission is simple: provide clean, decent, safe and affordable housing to those in need. We ultimately see KI Sawyer as its own community and want to be part of helping it return to the kind of place that people are proud to live. For those living on the margins, we attempt to provide more than just housing. Dignity is not dispersed based on the size of one’s wallet. We participate in the community and the lives of those in it. Joshua One Seven participates in the Continuum of Care–the only property management firm in Marquette County to work with all private and local governmental social service organizations to end homelessness and help those in generational poverty take a step forward.
About KI Sawyer
In May, 1959, the US Air Force commissioned KI Sawyer as an Air Defense and Strategic Air Command facility. In September, 1995, the base was decommissioned and the last jet left. Over the next several years, the meticulously-manicured lawns and perfectly maintained buildings of a 7,000+ base decayed into a vacant ghost town. For years, very few of the hundreds of apartments, duplexes and houses were occupied. Property values plummeted and, lacking any central government or police force, Sawyer became a haven for those looking to avoid visibility. Crime skyrocketed and owner after owner went bankrupt, unable to profitably rent even a few of their units. So much for the glory days of the Air Force.
Today, Joshua One Seven and other community members are working to rebuild KI Sawyer into the beautiful community it once was. With a little hard work and some TLC, KI Sawyer is shifting from abandoned US Air Force base to a neighborhood filled with laughter, barbecues, and social activity.
I first came to the UP in 2006 after meeting a woman that had recently “invested” in a property at KI Sawyer. After a couple of years of financial losses and tenant challenges, the building was dedicated Joshua One Seven. Yes, it’s a Bible verse. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Looking past the financial, it was clear that many in the Sawyer area were living on the margins of society—jobless and hopeless. Our belief was that God’s word provided pretty good direction on how to live a successful life. We installed the associate pastor of our church as a site manager and told him to tell all prospective tenants that he was a pastor and one of the owners worked for the Michigan State Police. That changed the, uh…, tone of the tenant applications we received. In 2012, I moved into that building and, after watching the building across the street go downhill, did a little research. Next thing I knew, I was a property manager for another owner. I acquired a few more owners over the next few years and, in July, 2014, when the owners of another property management firm retired, Joshua One Seven Enterprises, Inc. became a full-time job. My good friend, Rev. Chris Kostelansky, joined me as the maintenance manager, using the income to “support his church habit.”
For me, this is a “God thing”. It’s easy to look back and see how just about every aspect of my education and professional career positioned me for this venture, from dad’s instruction on how to remodel the basement, through my corporate management career (First Chicago, Bank One, AT&T) in technology, marketing and strategic planning and ending with my sales work at WLCU TV6 for the previous 4 years. Even my personal experiences – triumphs and tragedies – provided insight into the personal needs of our tenants. This is, by far, the most valuable thing I’ve ever done. At AT&T, I worked 80 hours per week turning out telephone bills. Now, I provide clean, decent, safe and affordable housing for over 150 families and employ several people. Beats telephone bills by quite a bit!