William F. Paulsen
William F. Paulsen is best known as an active investor in residential real estate development and in innovative angel investments. Paulsen is the Founder and former CEO of Summit Properties, a real estate investment firm. Paulsen led Summit to become one of the nation’s largest multi-family housing developers in the 1980s and 1990s and he led the company through its initial public offering in 1993. As CEO and later Co-Chairman of Summit Properties, Paulsen guided the company through its 2005 merger with Camden Property Trust, a $6.4 billion company which now owns and operates over 63,000 apartment units nationwide. Paulsen currently sits on the board of Camden. As of 2019, the company was ranked 19th by Fortune on its list of the “Best Companies To Work For”.
Early Life and Education
Paulsen was born in Washington, D.C., the son of an engineer father at DuPont and a home-maker mother. As a boy, Paulsen attended The Asheville School in North Carolina, graduating in 1965. Paulsen credits his father, a product of the Great Depression, with instilling in him a robust work ethic. As a teenager, Paulsen picked tobacco for local North Carolina farmers, because he liked making his own money. In college, he sold dictionaries door to door one summer in Jackson, Alabama. Paulsen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BS degree in Business Administration in 1969. He continued his business studies at UNC Chapel Hill earning an MBA in 1971, graduating first in his class as a Dean Scholar and as a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.
After graduating first in his class at the UNC-Chapel Hill Business School, Paulsen’s first job was as Director of its MBA Program. He was charged with formulating a series of strategic revisions to the advanced degree program. Since the day he graduated from Business School, Paulsen later told journalists, he nurtured a dream: “to build a company to a point where it was large enough to go public on the NYSE.”
Paulsen initially worked with leading architects and designers with The Sea Pines company in the 1970s. Thereafter, Paulsen joined with real estate investor William McGuire to found Summit Properties. “We were founded on the principle of providing the same sizzle and quality in our apartments as you get in single-family houses,” Paulsen once told Builder magazine. “That means hassle-free apartment life with features such as crown molding, garages, Jacuzzis.” In 1981, Paulsen took $50,000 in start-up capital and turned it into a $58 million-dollar business by 1993, the year of Summit’s initial public offering. In 1995, Summit expanded by acquiring a new $90 million real-estate portfolio. At the time, Summit emerged as one of the largest developers and operators of upscale apartments in the southeast. Paulsen led Summit to become one of the nation’s largest multifamily housing developers in the 1980s and 1990s, especially in high-income, high-growth suburban areas. In 2004, The New York Times and Business Wire reported that Summit Property would merge with Camden Property Trust for a total transaction value of $1.9 billion.
Paulsen has worked more than thirty years in the commercial and residential real estate development and management businesses. In his varied career, Paulsen served on the Urban Land Institute’s Multi-Family Council, the Builder 100 organization, the North Carolina Mortgage Bankers Association, and the Charlotte Apartment Association, as Vice President. Paulsen was selected North Carolina Entrepreneur of the Year in 1991 by Inc. Magazine.
Paulsen is very active in civic affairs in lower Manhattan. He serves on the Board of Directors of Hazelden Betty Ford, the substance abuse treatment center in New York City. Paulsen has also served on the Board of Trustees of The Asheville School, a college preparatory school in Asheville, NC. Bill worked actively on the school’s $100 million Centennial Campaign and led the effort to build a new Outdoor Center for the school. Paulsen has also served on the North Carolina Economic Task Force charged with evaluating the long-term viability of the state’s tax structure. He is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Keenan Flagler School of Business at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Paulsen and his wife, Laura Taft Paulsen, live in New York City, Nantucket, Massachusetts, Paris, France, and St Petersburg, Florida. They have three grandchildren. He is an avid, accomplished fisher.
- Fortune Magazine (February 14, 2019). "100 Best Companies to Work For". Archived from the original on February 14, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- Noland, Terrance (April 1995). "Peak Performance". Business / North Carolina: 60–70.
- Noland, Terrance (April 1995). "Peak Performance: When He Took Summit Public Last Year, Bill Paulsen Reached One of His Career Goals". Business / North Carolina: 60–70.
- Noland, Terry (April 1995). "Peak Performance: When He Took Summit Public Last Year, Bill Paulsen Reached One of His Career Goals". Business / North Carolina: 60–70.
- Van Hecke, M.S. (March 25, 1990). "Apartment Developer Is Among Nation's Largest". The Charlotte Observer.
- Lurz, William H. (April 1995). "Percentage Players: How and Why These 11 Builders Turned in the Nation's HIghest Percentage Housing Starts Last Year". Professional Builder.
- Lurz, William H. (April 1995). "Percentage Players: How and Why These 11 Builders Turned in the Nation's Highest Percentage Increases in Housing Starts Last Year". Professional Builder: 124–128.
- Smith, Doug (March 28, 2001). "Award-winning Summit Properties Naming New CEO Today". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- ""Camden Property Trust to Buy Summit for $1.9 Billion"". New York Times. October 5, 2004. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- ""Camden Property Trust and Summit Properties Inc. Announce Merger"". Business Wire. October 4, 2004. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
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