Chuck Toeniskutter, a senior head of real estate in Silicon Valley, is preparing his family business for the anticipated spike in development and renovation of commercial properties and buildings as companies return to their offices after more than a year of closure of coronavirus-related businesses.
Toeniskoetter companies are known for both innovative developments and large-scale renovations.
Renovations include the restoration of the famous San Jose Cathedral in downtown San Jose and the renovation of the historic Santa Clara County Courthouse a few blocks from the hotel. The current headquarters of the companies are located in a renovated mansion on the Alameda in San Jose.
In Palo Alto, Toeniskoetter undertook a major refurbishment of Hewlett Packard’s headquarters. They created two large business parks in Morgan Hill, which attracted technology companies Flextronics and Paramit to the city. As part of a major ongoing project, the company is rebuilding and improving the Los Gatos Athletic Club.
He has now reorganized his two companies with a focus on a succession plan – and intends to spend more time with three community organizations: The Stroke Awareness Foundation, Team San Jose, and Hunger at Home, which provides restaurant-quality meals to economically disadvantaged people.
This news organization met with Toeniskoetter for an interview, which has been edited for clarity and length.
Question: What prompted you to decide to develop a succession plan and how has it worked so far?
BUT: Succession has been waiting for a long time. Probably 15 years ago, we started talking about confidence in continuity. I became very interested in him after a stroke. December 23, 2000 2:30 pm. I know exactly when it was. I was a bit absent. Succession is very important now because of my age.
Question: How are companies organized now?
BUT: We have a development and construction company. They work hand in hand with each other. Coming out of the pandemic, we will have a lot of work that I can no longer do. Now I can guide, instruct, and answer questions. I can help open the door for a new leadership.
Question: How would you describe your family roots?
BUT: I’m from St. Louis. It was here that we started with our ancestors, creating carts for people who traveled around the country, as well as leather goods. I went to Notre Dame, then joined the Marine Corps. I graduated from Stanford. Then I went to work at McKinsey & Co. in San Francisco, and my family moved to Palo Alto. But I could not take root in any society. So I looked at San Jose and saw this high tech thing start to happen. I left a very lucrative job at McKinsey and in 1975 moved to Swenson.
Question: What did you like about South Bay?
BUT: What impressed me the most was how open it was to those who hadn’t started here yet. We didn’t know anyone here. In places like San Francisco, you need to have a pedigree to get into the company. San Jose and Silicon Valley are so open compared to San Francisco.
Question: How did you start your first company?
BUT: In 1982 I met Dan Breeding in Swenson and we decided to start our own company. We opened our store on February 1st, 1983. We focused on improving the conditions for tenants.
Question: When is the best time to start a venture?
BUT: When things go wrong, then you start. Almost every company started in a recession.
Question: What factor influenced the recession of the coronavirus?
BUT: COVID 19 caused the recession and created a great time for our companies to make this transition. Each forecast says that the next two years will be very, very active for development and construction. Our two companies are in an excellent position to grow.
Question: What opportunities do you see for yourself in the transition?
BUT: I cannot run as far or as fast as I used to. For me, an opportunity to step aside and allow great people to develop and expand the company. I am always worried about employees and their families. I also have the opportunity to participate more in the boards in which I participate. We have some thoughts on this homeless problem and we hope to help in some way.
Question: What is the potential of San Jose now?
BUT: Now it’s San Jose’s turn. All the momentum for development and growth has shifted south to San Jose. It is natural that we are talking about San Jose. So many tech companies have moved to San Francisco. But the environment in San Francisco has deteriorated dramatically. These companies need more space. They need access to talented people. And all this in San Jose.
Question: Do development players matter in San Jose?
BUT: You’ve got Google, Jay Paul, Westbank, Dillabough and all the great stuff that’s planned. In years past, you have had Lew Wolfe and Kim Small. There is an impulse. There are obligations. It’s finally happening.
Question: Are companies and tech workers starting to return to the office?
BUT: If you interview employees at these companies, they will say they want to work from home three or more days a week. If you talk to people who write checks, people who run companies, they will say there is a place to work from home.
Question: The newest major player in San Jose is the Westbank-Gary Dillabow alliance. What do you think of this venture?
BUT: Westbank, if they even manage to build two of the five or six projects they talk about, San Jose will leave their mark. You get Google and Jay Paul with their designs, they are going to be huge.
Question: As for Westbank, they could choose San Francisco or Oakland, Los Angeles, with so many choices that San Jose is the city of their choice.
BUT: Isn’t that something? They said that San Jose is the most suitable place.
Question: How does Toeniskoetter approach this?
BUT: We have a long-term view on this. I think we will have all sorts of opportunities that I didn’t even think about when we started these companies. We positioned these companies to keep abreast of what was happening. I wish I could be 40 again
Companies: Toeniskoetter Development, Toeniskoetter Construction
Place of Birth: Saint Louis
Residence: Los Gatos
Education: University of Notre Dame, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, MBA, Stanford University Graduate School of Business
Family: A wife and four grown children.
FIVE THINGS ABOUT TOENISKOETTER CHAKA
one. He has been married for 54 years to his wife Linda, an artist.
2. United States Marine Corps, 1967-1971. From 1968 to 1969 he served in Vietnam.
3. He has served on over 40 public councils and has served on the board of directors of three public companies.
4. Traveled almost every 50 states on his Harley Davidson motorcycle, accompanied by friends. He also drove his Harley in Cuba and New Zealand.
five. In 2009, Toeniskoetter attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the Black Hills region of western South Dakota, an annual event that often attracts 500,000 or more bikers.