It's In My Blood.7/19/2019
I come from a family that has been deeply involved in Commercial Real Estate since settling in North Platte, Nebraska in the 1880s. My great grandfather T.M. Cohagen was one of the first county commissioners in Lincoln County, Nebraska. T.M. started a moving and storage business, run by horse-drawn wagons, in the late 20th Century. He also owned and operated the first "ice house," used to supply the residences and businesses of North Platte with cold food storage.
T.M.'s son, Charles Cohagen, continued to grow the family business by building many of the industrial and commercial buildings in North Platte until his death in 1966. Charles owned and operated the Hamms Beer and Pepsi Distribution Center along with a moving and storage company. Except for the buildings taken by the urban renewal program in the 1970s, many remain in family ownership.
My grandfather, Gilbert Wilkinson, obtained his real estate license in 1964 at just 23 years old. In 1978, he became the Owning and Managing Broker of the North Platte Century 21 Real Estate franchise. Under his ownership, Century 21 became a regional powerhouse in residential, commercial, and farm and ranch sales. He remains in North Platte working alongside my Uncle Mark.
My father, Daren Wilkinson, is the premier residential home builder in Western Nebraska along with developing many residential subdivisions. Additionally, he has been the general contractor on many commercial projects in conjunction with my Uncle Mark. These projects range from strip malls to hotels, to quick-service restaurants.
My uncle, Jay Wilkinson, is the CEO and founder of Firespring here in Lincoln, NE. Firespring employs hundreds in the marketing and advertising domain, has been identified as a Forbes 5000 top company to work for in the US, and is a certified "B" Corp - the first in Nebraska.
My uncle, Mark Wilkinson, is the owner of Wilkinson Co. also based out of North Platte. Wilkinson Co. is responsible for the development and management of almost 1,000,000 square feet of commercial real estate. Their portfolio includes retail, office, industrial, hospitality, QSR, and land.
Throughout it all, I have been watching, patiently waiting for my turn to have a crack at the family business. Finally, that time has come.
In May of 2018, I graduated from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln with a degree in Business Management and a minor in Economics. After graduating, I started my own company and began flipping houses. From here, I realized my true aspirations lie within the commercial real estate industry. As of July 2019, I will be joining PRISM Commercial to broker the sales and leasing of commercial real estate. Starting in August, I will begin a Master’s of Real Estate Development program online at Iowa State University. In conjunction, these two opportunities will pave the way for the long journey ahead.
Commercial Real Estate is in my blood. Always has been and always will be.