“My life is lived from the inside out. My principle values, experience and leadership come from the inside, and guide my life on the outside. It’s an inside job. It seems that everyone is wired differently. Some of us want to make a lot of money, while others want to save the world and help people. You CAN do both! Everyone needs to figure it out. Work is a huge part of it. If you find the right work and path, life can be a real joy and blessing.”
Dennis Doyle, Executive Chairman of the Welsh Property Trust, started his career in real estate as an adolescent who spent his summers working construction for his neighbor, George Welsh. During that period, Mr. Doyle’s passion for construction and development grew exponentially, part of the credit, according to Mr. Doyle, belongs to his older brothers who forced him to work harder to keep up. He left real estate briefly to attend college on a football scholarship, with the intention of becoming a coach, however Mr. Doyle soon realized that this was not his true goal, and returned home to continue his career developing and constructing buildings. In 1977, Mr. Doyle and Mr. Welsh (same childhood neighbor) entered into a handshake agreement, that formed the Welsh Companies, and has shaped the last 30 years of Mr. Doyle’s life. Reflecting on this story, and on his subsequent career, Mr. Doyle lamented, ”I love being able to put my personal touch on buildings, and am very fortunate to have found my life’s passions and being able to continue working in this field.”
George Welsh, Dennis Doyle & the start of Welsh Companies | According to Mr. Doyle, George Welsh was a simple man, who did not attend college and spent most of his career working as a train conductor. Mr. Welsh’s values regarding work are as simple as one would expect from Mr. Doyle’s characterization of him, (1) do the right thing, & (2) work hard every day. These values continue to shape the culture of Welsh Companies. Mr. Welsh was a private man, who had a severe mistrust of reporters believing that any good press received during successful periods, would be repaid exponentially with negative press during a hard period.
Today Welsh Companies employs around 300 people across the seven companies that make up their family of businesses. The decision to arrange the company into a full service real estate firm began in 1981, and was the result of Mr. Doyle’s belief that a multifaceted company will give the firm the opportunity to win as much business as possible, as well as providing clients with as many quality services as they require to successfully manage their real estate investment. Furthermore, no matter how talented or well positioned you real estate business is, the industry is still cyclical and will have ups and downs in each sector, therefore a more diverse revenue steam will act as a financial and operation hedge against hard times in certain sectors. Mr. Doyle accredits this structure to his entrepreneurial spirit, in that he is constantly striving to improve the world around him, and bring creative insights into solving these problems.
Several critical elements of Mr. Doyle’s formula include community and the scope of your initial projects. The community aspect is the recognition, that when creating a firm that is as diverse as the Welsh Companies, it is impossible for one person to be the expert on everything. The scope of projects needs to match your experience and expertise in a given sector. If it is your first development in the apartment business, start small, and learn from each step, before taking the next step.
Philanthropy | “Do good, by doing good” is Mr. Doyle’s mantra for making a difference in the world. After years of small donations to many nonprofit organizations, Mr. Doyle and his wife decided that they wanted to bring some unique skills and assets to aiding others by making one huge impact, as opposed to the many small impacts made by their previous donations. The result of this inspiration, Hope for the City encourages corporations to donate corporate surplus in any one of a multitude of industries. This idea stemmed from the excess which Mr. Doyle observed in his business, which happened to be empty warehouse space leading to the idea that corporations can have positive effects on the lives of those in need, without sacrificing any of the resources that are being used in their normal operations. Since 2000, Hope for the City has donated $435M worth of goods to developing countries. Mr. Doyle’s attitude towards aiding others is similar to his professional persona, and lends credit to the quote that is at the top of this article. It is not all of the things that Mr. Doyle does that defines who Mr. Doyle is, rather it is who he is, that is the foundation and explanation for what he does.
Dennis Doyle was the last speaker in the 2010-2011 Executive Insight Series, hosted by the University of St. Thomas’s Masters In Real Estate Program. For more information on this program, or to check for future events, please visit our web site.
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