Date: November 24, 2007
About: Bret Austin - Class of 1987
The Downtown Dreamer
The Downtown Dreamer
To Bret Austin, downtown is where it's at.
He gravitates toward the historic areas with creative people and buildings with potential. Austin and his father, Terry, together as Austin Properties, have bought 12 buildings in the past five years in Quincy that are in various states of renovation.
In the next five years, he says, "I envision downtown Quincy to see around 300 to 400 percent increase in quality residential units."
Austin also is an engineering consultant with The Austin Group LLC, a custom manufacturer of castings with customers in North America such as John Deere and General Motors as well as South America and Asia.
He was on the founding committee of YP of Quincy, and he believes networking and involvement is key to young people staying here.
After leaving the area at one time, he came back to Quincy ‹ a city he is definitely passionate about.
What do you do in your job?
The Austin Group consults with manufacturing companies and foundries to help design and bring their products to market. Primarily, we work with metal castings and with larger automotive and ag companies. Austin Properties, the property business, started out small and is still growing, so we kind of do it all. The fun part is locating the potential project, getting the deal done and planning the spaces. On nights and weekends, you can still find me painting, though.
What has been your biggest accomplishment?
Not sure I have ever been a "biggest accomplishment" kind of person. I guess my biggest accomplishment is that all the smaller successes and failures so far have added up to a good life education with the ability to continue to have choices of what I want to do next.
Who has influenced you the most and why?
No doubt, my grandfather and my dad. My grandfather really was the nicest guy I have ever met, and he always supported me. My dad and I have worked together for almost 10 years now, and we own the property business together. I have learned a lot from him about business and life. Of course, now he is learning from me on the property side a bit.
What motivates you in your job?
With the Austin Group, I get excited about understanding how things work. The design part of this job is highly technical and can be lengthy at times, so when you get to see a finished product, it can be really rewarding. The property business is two-fold. The single biggest motivation is, of course, the investment aspect and the advantages that come with that in a financial security sense. Along with that, I have always been interested in the spaces that people live and work in. I guess it is just another aspect of figuring out how things work most efficiently.
What career advice would you give?
Plan one. Plan a target and don't just think that it will happen with the right college degree. I see some of the things I'm doing now as successful, but I would have been so much farther ahead if I would have planned that career path better.
What do you still hope to accomplish?
I have ideas for a couple of different commercial business ventures that I would like to start and grow. Things are pretty hectic right now, but I can see a point (in the not too distant future, hopefully) where I will be able to get to those ideas.
What was your first job?
Kroger's. High School. Red bow-ties and big farmer-style caps were part of the uniform. Sweet.
If you weren't in developing, what would you be doing?
Disc jockey at a rock/blues radio station. I have no idea why. It just sounds fun.
Leisure time diversions and/or favorite stress buster?
What is leisure time again? I will probably have to redefine that for myself in about 10 years.
What is the biggest need in your community?
To reach out to young people/couples and convince them that Quincy has everything they are looking for and more.The time of immediately moving from college to metropolitan city is losing its appeal. Quincy has a lot to offer in terms of quality of life and that should be in the forefront of our goals to market ourselves. Of course, this means some of the social event appeal of a bigger city will need to be developed, but we're already seeing some of that right now.
What is the ringtone on your cell phone?
Default number one. I never took the time to program in anything else. That sounds lame. Next thing you know, I won't be able to program my Direct TV recorder, and then before you know it ... you're no longer under 40.
Nominated by Rebecca Austin, account executive, KHQA-TV, Bret's wife: "His passion is to see the District grow with new and exciting businesses and to help that through networking/social activity/investing and hard work."