According to Bob Clark, Chairman and CEO of Clayco, if you ever completely learn your lesson in commercial real estate, you get out of the business.
“It’s a risky business,” he said. “You just have to have the right idea at the right time and surround yourself with bright stars.”
Clark should know having started Clayco 30 years ago with the goal of finding new and better ways of doing business. I think it’s safe to say he hit the nail on the head, as today, the company is one of the top full-service build firms in America.
“When Clayco started we immediately began a real estate strategy to have a “turnkey solution” for our clients. One of our first projects was to find the real estate and build multiple banks for Mercantile Bank in St Louis.”
“There is no other company like ours in many ways,’ he added. “We are fully integrated with high competency in development, design and in many of the direct construction trades. We are also well capitalized.”
Clark has tried many other ideas and hobbies, but with his innovative eye for design build, and competitive nature, he loves what he does.
“I am a builder through and through. Nothing competes with starting with an idea and then delivering a project that becomes a place for study, medicine, work or play.”
That innovation can be seen with Clayco’s current projects that include the University of Chicago’s Medical Center west Campus Center for Care and Discovery parking garage, and the projects in 25 cities across the United States, as well as design projects around the world.
But what really has Clark excited is the Zurich North American Headquarters in Schaumburg, a 735,000-square-foot complex. Clayco is the developer and design- builder.
“It’s a great development and building opportunity,’ he said. “I’m also focused on a terrific project in Oklahoma City for Oklahoma Gas and Electric to build a new HQ. We’re also redeveloping major Office projects in Richmond VA, Pittsburgh PA, St. Louis, Missouri, and Chicago, IL.”
Over the years Clark has had many, many mentors, but he calls his father his first hero.
“He was a colorful full life liver that showed me the way,” he said. “He was not in construction, but was very helpful philosophically.”
When Clark isn’t working, he can likely be found outdoors enjoying nature.
“I love the mountains more than anything else,” he said. “I enjoy hiking, climbing, and golfing too. We have a ranch in Old Snowmass, Colorado where we all spend a lot of time.”
His family, friends and associates, and last but not least, Clayco, is what’s most important to him, as well as, “Making sure that my legacy is not building buildings, but what happens inside them for our clients.”
With all he values about Chicago life, above all he appreciates the vibrancy of the people he encounters here everyday.
“The most amazing thing about Chicago is the inflow of educated talent that the city attracts and retains. It’s just a great place to live.”
Clark moved to Chicago four years ago, and two of his children have since joined him.
“It’s been amazing to me how quickly the community has adopted us,” he said. “I NEVER feel like an outsider, or like I am being treated in a parochial way. I have joined the University of Chicago Medicine Board of Trustees, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and have immersed myself in making my community a better place.”
He added, “It’s been a resurgence for me and my business. It’s an exciting time. We are starting a new platform, “Treehouse Adventures”, to do VC and startup new businesses within our industry, and also where our unique management tools can add value. It’s been a very exciting time in the company’s history.”