Bob Lemke thought about starting his own business for a long time, but it was an opportunity to teach that convinced him to take the chance.
"I wish I would have done it earlier," said Lemke, who owns Envision Consulting, an architectural consulting firm. Lemke also is co-owner of Wisconsin Redevelopment, a real estate development firm that focuses on affordable housing and historic preservation.
After studying architecture and historical preservation in college, Lemke went to work for U.S. Bank, where he handled real estate development, including, among other things, finding buildings for the bank to remodel and reuse. Lemke also taught part-time at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.
After 15 years with the bank, MSOE asked if Lemke would consider teaching full time. When Lemke accepted, he decided he also would start Envision.
With Envision, like his work at U.S. Bank, Lemke finds sites for building or remodeling, works out financing and advises on demolition and construction for clients such as the Wisconsin Humane Society, which worked with Lemke to develop buildings in Milwaukee and Saukville.
With Wisconsin Redevelopment, Lemke and his partner, Todd Hutchison, work directly with investors to develop projects like the 79-unit Riverwalk Plaza condominiums in Milwaukee's historic Third Ward.
"We adapt, reuse and come up with new uses for old buildings. It's really kind of a fun challenge," Lemke said.
The company also helps fill the affordable housing gap in the metro area, developing rent-to-own projects like the Mitchell Market Lofts and Silver City Townhomes, which used a grant from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to install green roofs to collect stormwater run-off.
"If you ever drive by, you'll see sheep on the roof. The sheep are artificial, but it really brands the project," Lemke said.
Sheep aside, Lemke said, he's proud to make a difference for families who might not otherwise find good, affordable homes.
"That's rewarding. We're filling that need and trying to find opportunities to actually create something that maybe nobody else thought of," he said.
To suggest a Wauwatosa business for this spotlight, send an email to email@example.com.
JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Envision Consulting Inc. and Wisconsin Redevelopment, 7611 Harwood Ave.
PHONE: (414) 777-0428
OWNER: Bob Lemke (Envision), co-owner Todd Hutchison (Wisconsin Redevelopment)
INCORPORATED: 1999 Envision, 2003 Wisconsin Redevelopment
TYPE OF BUSINESS: architectural consultation and real estate development
PEARLS OF WISDOM: "(Starting a business) was always in the back of my mind. I wish I would have done it earlier."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Whitefish Bay professor challenges Jim Ott
- Mequon-Thiensville Police Report: October 23, 2014
- North Shore Police Reports: October 23, 2014
- Mequon-Thiensville schools will pitch 4K program
- Germantown High School alumni wins gold at Warrior Games
- Wauwatosa businesses recognized for employing people with disabilities
- Neighbors continue combating Wauwatosa Woman's Club parking proposal (1)
- Wauwatosa's Center Street, lined with schools, could see sidewalks, bike lanes
- Brothers pave patio, walkway for veterans in Shorewood
- Cahill neighbors call foul on new field