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Meet Debbie & Paul Shumaker of Imperial Tower Apartments in Waukegan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Debbie & Paul Shumaker.

Debbie & Paul, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Paul and I started in 1980 with a rundown 6 unit. We fixed it up and rented it out and proceeded to purchase our next building. In 1993, we had 116 apartments in 6 different locations. It was tough to manage and take care of. Paul had all of his tools in his truck and worked long hours rehabbing and maintaining the properties. I was managing and renting all the apartments with 3 kids in tow. It was a very busy time. In 1993, we started the process to sell everything that we owned to trade it in to purchase Imperial Tower Apartments. We purchased one of the 6 buildings from the original builder, Bruce Boyke and purchased the other 5 buildings, that had been built by Bruce as well, from an investment group. We couldn’t have been happier to have one place to manage and maintain. Mr. Boyke built a quality product that has been a joy. He had a vision that a lot of apartment builders did not have. The apartments all have very large kitchens and lots of closet space. He built the apartments to be someone’s home.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Owning your own business means that you are never off. Even when we are on vacation, we are still the person that gets the call if something happens. The economy has gone up and down during our ownership, but we had some control because we were the owners. It wasn’t always easy, but always worth it. Paul’s father taught us very early that if we were willing to do what most people will not, we would be able to do what most people can’t. This business gave us the opportunity to travel with our children for High School, Club and College volleyball and with our Son when he traveled for ATV Racing. We have had to make great sacrifices, but it gave us flexibility as well.

Imperial Tower Apartments – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We rent apartments. We specialize in great customer service. We always try to take care of our residents needs immediately when they call for service. We are able to adapt to the needs of the market because we are involved with the business and are able to make decisions to meet those needs. I think the fact that we are a larger property, but still have that personal touch is the reason people want to live here.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Last year a very prominent real estate group in the Chicago area told us that they use us for market analysis. They told us we are an anomaly in this industry, to be privately owned and prosper as well or better than the professionally managed properties.

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