Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Little-known man built success in rental housing

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, February 4, 2001 10:00 pm | Updated: 8:31 am, Tue Jun 26, 2012.

Imagine 22,000 people.

That’s more than the population of Galt. It’s about 40 percent of Lodi’s population.

Now, imagine providing shelter for those 22,000 men, women and children.

You are responsible for the roofs over their heads. The plumbing for their showers and faucets. The heaters and air conditioners that keep them comfortable.

A low-key company on Kettleman Lane does exactly this.

It is a unique firm built by a uniquely talented man, Joseph D. Michael, now 80. Michael has never sought out personal recognition, but he has quietly, steadily built an empire of rental housing from Nevada to Hawaii.

The company he founded, Professional Apartment Management, on Kettleman Lane, now operates 171 projects in the West and has more than 350 employees. Though Michael continues to serve as chairman of the company, his son, David, is president and oversees the daily affairs of the firm.

Joe Michael may be among the most successful yet least-known business leaders in California.

Richard Hanner

Slim and bespectacled, he has the air of a university professor. On a recent morning he wore a blue sweater, blue striped shirt, no tie, and dark slacks. Michael exudes confidence and expertise without a trace of arrogance. He seems a man of cool substance and few frills.

Reared in Stockton, he graduated from Stockton High School. After serving in World War II, he graduated from the University of Santa Clara’s law school.

“I really wanted nothing more than to be a general practice lawyer,” he said.

But a few years into his legal career, the path turned. Michael was asked to help put together a subsidized housing project. The federal department of Housing and Urban Development had begun setting aside millions for such endeavors. But they had also grown a thicket of rules and regulations surrounding the money.

Michael deftly penetrated the thicket. That first project, in Stockton, proved satisfying to both the tenants and the investors.

While continuing to handle divorce cases and represent criminal suspects, Michael took on another subsidized housing project, then another.

Over time, he became an expert on the esoterica of subsidized housing, the obstacles as well as the opportunities. Michael learned about insulation, about plumbing, about an array of tax consequences, about finance.

He learned, too, that he enjoyed the process as well as the results.

“I found it very satisfying to provide good housing for people with lower or moderate incomes,” he said.

With each project, Michael and his team of contractors, architects and accountants gained experience and confidence.

Michael steadily narrowed his practice of law while expanding the development business. He started building non-subsidized projects, including office buildings. Some were built with partners, some not. With his son, he began creating senior apartments and assisted-living centers. Their firm offered management services for other housing owners.

Still, subsidized housing remained at the core of the business during the early years, and remains so today. Michael shows a flicker of pride when describing these projects.

“I would defy you to distinguish one our subsidized projects from a conventional project,” he said. “In our years of building these, we have never had one go into default. We’ve never had one badly deteriorate because of deferred maintenance.”

Along with steadiness has come a flair for innovation. The firm is pioneering senior apartments in which two unrelated seniors share kitchen and bathroom space. “It nearly cuts the rent in half,” Michael said. Efforts are underway to start tutoring and computer training for children in some of the firm’s housing projects. The company provides scholarships for several of the children living in PAM homes. The secretary of HUD, in fact, recently honored the company with a national high achiever award for its work in providing subsidized housing and related services.

A key to his company’s success, Michael said, is the quality of management. Managers are carefully screened and trained. They are overseen by a hierarchy of other managers to make sure the grass is always green, the paint is always fresh.

In fact, Steve Pinkerton, chief of Stockton’s housing and redevelopment department, said many of the subsidized projects in Stockton, including Michael’s, tend to be better maintained and managed than those that are privately financed and operated.

“Some people say you can spot a subsidized project because it is of lesser quality. In Stockton, you can spot them because they are the best-looking and best-maintained,” he said. “The government now imposes requirements that virtually assure these projects will be good quality. I wish conventional lenders were as demanding.”

Michael gave up the practice of law entirely about 20 years ago. Though he enjoys golf and fishing, he remains committed to his company, to the job of providing housing for 22,000 people.

“And to tell you truth,” he said, with just a hint of a smile, “I just like coming into the office.”

Richard Hanner is the Lodi News-Sentinel’’s editor. He can be reached at (209) 369-7035; at 125 N. Church St., or via e-mail.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 15 hours ago by jeffreyrinek.

article: San Joaquin County supervisors approve …

Mr. Chang, from your latest comment concerning out of county comments I presume you are referring to me, at the least. Thank you for partic…

More...

Posted 15 hours ago by Frank Gayaldo.

article: San Joaquin County supervisors approve …

My passion is promoting our local economy. When the sheriff does things like waste $9 million dollars on jail design plans, that has a dire…

More...

Posted 16 hours ago by Eric Barrow.

article: Letter: Pastor Frank Nolton forgets abo…

Left wing political propaganda nonsense? I thought you weren't caught up in the left right paradigm.

More...

Posted 16 hours ago by nth degree wise.

article: Letter: Pastor Frank Nolton forgets abo…

Now who is promoting political (right wing) propaganda nonsense? That a sign on a school building (Gun-Free School Zone) is the cause of sc…

More...

Posted 16 hours ago by Ron Werner.

article: Chris Piombo: Life can be hard for a Do…

The Dodgers, just like the federal government. They think that if you throw enough money at something you can buy what you want. With the …

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 37

Loading…

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists