Pat Smith has been the CEO of real estate development firm WestPac for nearly 25 years. Before joining WestPac, Pat Smith obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from California Polytechnic before founding Smith and Company as a real estate development and investment firm. He was later invited to join the WestPac team and was appointed CEO in 1998.
As CEO of WestPac, Smith has led projects developing everything from apartments and student housing developments to condo complexes, single family subdivisions, medical spaces, mixed-use developments, and more.
Where did the idea for WestPac come from?
We started business in California and Hawaii. The theme of Western-Pacific investments and the associated ethos of the geographic area was core to our roots of work even as we have expanded into the Midwest and other parts of the US.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
6:00 AM wakeup, gym at 7:00 AM. Work starts with emails and to-do lists, the follow-up with all of our project managers, analysts, finance operations, and administrative personnel until 6 PM. A typical day will include a review of income and expense reports, operating the business, and biweekly analyses on our real estate investments.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I look at a piece of land or existing property and think about making it better both visually, functionally, and economically.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Solving housing issues for all different economic strata, from affordable housing to resort properties, developments for the extremely wealthy, as well as varied developments of student housing, multifamily, affordable, market rate, independent senior housing, assisted living, memory care, office, hospitality, retail, warehouse, and master-planned communities.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My ability to multitask and balance. Shifting from project to project and pushing on furthering my ideas on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Jump in—there is always an opportunity.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The world always has its ups and downs. I always see the opportunity even when things are at their worst. There is always a way to capitalize, even in the worst of times.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The economy is like a train rolling down the tracks – you have to get on board and ride, learn from the sops along the way, but do not look back. Enjoy the ride!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being open to new ideas, new locations, and revising existing buildings.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I got caught in 4 recessions over 48 years in business. I was smart enough to take my losses, flip the switch, and aggressively buy real estate in declining times.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Figure out a solution for the underprivileged and houseless both from a housing perspective and a mental health standpoint.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Giving someone in the service industry a tip above the standard 20-30%. It made them feel great about mankind and their contribution to the service industry.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The internet and accounting software packages associated with my different business interests are helpful.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches by his grandson Winston S Churchill. Winston Churchill was an incredible leader with great wisdom and wit, especially in times of crisis.
What is your favorite quote?
This is your world… shape it or someone else will. – Gary Lew
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.