Kingma Follows Opportunity
Stu Kingma began that journey 10 years ago when he joined Stan Wisinski at his firm as a sales associate in 1994. Kingma called the change he made nearly a decade ago to the day as taking advantage of an enormous opportunity. And he seems to have made the most of it, as today the low-key and well-spoken Kingma is a vice president at S.J. Wisinski.
Kingma told the Business Journal that he enjoyed his work at Michigan Wheel and that he still keeps in touch with a number of the people he worked with there. But he felt there wasn’t much room for personal advancement with the manufacturer and decided it was time for something new — but something that wasn’t totally foreign to him.
“I had an interest in real estate and owned a couple of multi-family apartment buildings back then and decided that real estate was a direction I had an interest in and chose to go that way,” he said.
Kingma earned his real estate license and then met with Wisinski. Shortly after that meeting, he was servicing clients at the region’s largest commercial real estate firm.
“It was an opportunity to be able to be in control of my own destiny professionally through my affiliation with S.J. Wisinski. We’re independent contractors here and we have an opportunity to make our own way,” he said.
Kingma hadn’t yet turned 30 years old when he guided the sales and marketing strategy for the outboard and stern-drive product line of Michigan Wheel. The market he served was made up of two-step distributors who sold to marine dealers, and Kingma managed and coordinated the stateside sales of that line for Wheel.
“I just felt, given the current management structure there, I was at the highest level I could attain for some significant period of time because the management that was in place was relatively young. And I felt that in order for me to expand my professional career, I was going to need to make a change,” he said.
“It certainly had nothing to do with the company itself. I always say that if you make a change, you do it for one of two reasons. Either you’re unhappy, which was certainly not the case or you have an opportunity that is too good to refuse — and that was the reason for me making the move at the time.”
Kingma was still shy of 40 when he made vice president at Wisinski & Co., a promotion he received about 18 months ago.
“The bulk of my responsibility lies in representing the clients who have chosen to hire us for the marketing, sales and leasing services on their properties and the bulk of my time is spent in that area,” he said.
“There is a management committee here, which I’m a part of, which meets on a monthly basis to go over such things as business strategy, business direction and items of a more global perspective,” he added. “But the bulk of my time is involved with the company’s client base on sales and leasing of their real estate assets.”
When asked what he liked best about his work at Wisinski, Kingma answered instantly and as a true entrepreneur-at-heart would.
“There are no two days that are the same,” he said, emphatically.
“Every project we are involved with is different in some way than the others that have been accomplished in the past. It’s a day filled with variety, not only in terms of product but also in terms of being able to operate with a number of different business owners in town.”
Kingma is a Grand Rapids native who lives in Spring Lake with Lisa, his wife, and their three children: Kyle, Cassandra and 20-month-old Claudia. Kyle is 7 years old, while Cassandra is 4.
The Kingma family spends a lot of time together. In the summer, they take the kids to the beach and cruise the lake in a small outboard boat. In winter, they snowboard and ski in Grand Haven and Boyne.
Then there are the family’s frequent trips to Florida.
Lisa was raised in Miami and her parents now live in Orlando. Orlando is, of course, the home of Disney World. And Disney World happens to be the wonderland that the Kingmas have visited many times — for free.
“My father-in-law works for Disney, as a matter of fact. My kids are very well Disney-traveled,” he said with a laugh.
Down the road, Kingma said he hopes to develop a few real estate projects of his own. For the immediate future, though, he plans to keep his focus where it is currently: on his clients in the local market.
“It’s a good fit. It’s a fit I enjoy. The market here has sustained a bit of a challenging time period over the last 24 to 36 months given the downturn in the economy. The real estate market has changed in that we have lost a number of manufacturing jobs,” he said.
“So my focus is going to continue to be to service those clients that are here and put forth our efforts in creative solutions to the opportunities that now present themselves.”
Name: Stu Kingma
Company: S.J. Wisinski & Co.
Title: Vice President
Birthplace: Grand Rapids
Residence: Spring Lake
Family: Wife, Lisa; son, Kyle; daughters Cassandra and Claudia
Business/Community Organizations: Commercial Alliance of Realtors, Society of Office and Industrial Realtors, Michigan Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Realtors
Biggest Career Break: Finding the career independence he wanted when he joined S.J. Wisinski in 1994.