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Craig Lloyd reflects on 45 years at Lloyd Companies

It’s a milestone month for Lloyd Companies.
 
June 6, 2017, marked our 45th year in business. It’s been a rewarding and memorable ride that often feels like it’s just getting started. We want to thank all those who have played a role in our company’s success, including our residents, employees, investors and the communities where we do business.

Lloyd Companies has come along way since our founder, Craig Lloyd, moved to Sioux Falls 45 years ago to work for his uncle’s property management business. He transitioned leadership of Lloyd Companies to his nephew, Chris Thorkelson, in 2005, but still plays a significant role in our company.
 
We caught up with Craig to look back and look ahead.
 
Question: So, do you happen to remember why you started the company on June 6?
 
Answer: I graduated from Mankato State University on June 1. And first I had to move.
 
Q: Where to?
 
A: The Meadowland Apartments at Marion and 41st. There were 120 moderate income housing units that we helped manage. The way it worked was if you made $100 dollars, you paid $25 in rent.
 
Q: So that was the start of Lloyd Companies.
 
A: In South Dakota, yeah.
 
Q: Tell us about those first few years. what do you remember?
 
A: We lived on the third floor of the first building that was done. We moved in in June and rented up all the units by October. I was making $8200 a year, my wife Pat and I together. She would do the qualification of the residents, because I’m terrible at details and she’s good at it, and she’s good at policies and procedures. I came home one night said, ‘I think I’ll go build a house.’ She said, ‘Have you ever built a house?’ I said, ‘No but I’ve built a garage. And I’ve drawn houses. It can’t be that hard.’ So I built our first house on Thurman Drive.
 
Q: So was it that easy?
 
A: No, but I had two great things happen. We found a lot. I found a banker who would loan me $14,000 and I put $1,500 into the lot, and we had a guy lay the block. I helped fill the footings and a guy came in to do the plumbing, and I found a guy who has become an old friend to pour the concrete, Gary Swenson. Years later we bought all the land for Meadows on the River from him. And the guy across the hall at the apartments had never built a house either, but he’d knock on the door at 5 a.m. every morning and we’d go work on the house from 5 a.m. until 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m. we’d work again until dark, and we shingled it and sided it and put the windows in. I can’t say it was the best job of finishing but we did it. And two years later I sold the house for $48,000 so I made about $20,000.
 
Q: What did you do with that?
 
A: I built a new house. And my next house I built across the street and was able to sell that and make about $10,000. Then I did that four other times and my uncle found out and he didn’t appreciate that, so he gave Pat and I 5 to 10 minutes and said, ‘Either we’re going to be partners or you’re going to be fired.’ So we became partners and that’s when I learned what 51-49 percent meant. He let me make all my mistakes. His fault was he didn’t know the construction business any better than I did, so he let me make mistakes I shouldn’t have made. But 1979 until 1983 was a time that was really, really tough and we survived it. He helped me a lot. Then we ended up buying him out of the construction company and a couple years later we bought him out of the property management company. But the biggest reason for my success is Pat, because I was able to go out and she calls it ‘do the fun stuff.’ Build the houses and meet with people and she had to figure out how to manage about 400 units.
 
Q: How many units does Lloyd Companies have now?
 
A: 5,200.
 
Q: Would you have every thought it would get that big?
 
A: No, I always dreamt of 2,000.
 
Q: Was there a tipping point?
 
A: Two times. One was the idea that we could go out and raise capital from people outside of friends and family to build more apartments and that started in 94-96 era and we did Donegal Point, Royal Oaks and some others and that was a big tipping point along with the development of Meadows on the River. My partner at the time was Craig Rickert. He was a great negotiator for the commercial, and the next time was when we hired Raquel and Scott Blount who took us to the next level of commercial, that was 2002-2003, and then in 2007 when my daughter Christie and her husband Todd moved to Sioux Falls, and Todd set up his own firm to raise money that took us to a whole new level. It took us from 2,800 apartments to 5,200.
 
Q: How would you describe the company’s direction and focus today?
 
A: It’s got a lot better focus and direction than when I was around! We’ve got a great management team. We have many more checks and balances than we ever had, not to say we won’t make mistakes, but the process we go through to build something or not build something is much greater than it’s ever been. The level of research and documentation is much greater. The new generation has abilities I didn’t know how to use, and they’re so much more sophisticated. I’m real proud of our management team.
 
Q: Are you still involved in some ways?
 
A: I show up (laughs). I’m still there. I still try to answer questions. I’m on a conference call twice a week. Just more as a historian than anything else and someone has to sign the notes at the bank. So I kind of want to know what’s going on.
 
Q: Does it feel like 45 years have gone by?
 
A: No. I’ve met a lot of great friends. A lot of my competition became lifelong friends. We weren’t competition. We’d bid against each other and if he lost I bought and if I lost he bought.
 
Q: So what are you excited about in the next five or 10 years?
 
A: Living (laughs). I’m probably most excited about seeing the downtown continue to develop. Trying to see the dreams and aspirations of many people including my good friend Steve Metli come to fruition.
 
Q: It feels like that’s possible for downtown, in the next decade.
 
A: It absolutely is.