Starting Jan. 1, 2020, the Sembler Company announced that after more than two decades of service to the company, Ron Wheeler will be stepping down as CEO. Sembler flourished during Wheeler's tenure, steadily growing its real estate and development portfolios and its signature grocery-anchored shopping centers with service- and experience-oriented tenants, a key to fighting off online retail competition. Wheeler expanded Sembler's corporate philanthropy program to increase company-wide volunteerism, and created a grant program for underserved schools through the Pinellas Education Foundation. He is known for his advocacy and philanthropy, thanks to his work with numerous nonprofit organization including the Alzheimer's Association.
Years in St. Pete
I've been in the Tampa Bay area since about 1988 and lived back and forth but I've lived full-time in St. Pete for about five years.
Organizations involved in
I'm involved in a lot of industry organizations within the real estate industry. But the organizations that I'm most passionate about outside of those are the Alzheimer's Association here in the west coast of Florida, and the Pinellas Education Foundation where I work with grants for elementary schools.
What gets you out of bed every day?
I want to make sure that as I go through my life, I leave as much of a positive impact as I can on everyone and everything that I encounter. I get very focused on things I'm passionate about, and think a lot about them and kind of want to get at them every day.
Why St. Pete?
St. Pete is a great city, it's got an amazing culture. It's more of a laid back feel. I love the fact that you can walk downtown and in Old Northeast along the water and that we preserved our waterfront. That you can walk to so many interesting restaurants and shops and businesses all within a fairly contained area. And of course there are the beaches on top of that, so that's an extra bonus.
What is one habit that you keep?
I like to read a lot every day, both fiction and nonfiction. I stay in touch with both what's happening in the world and in our community but also just read about interesting things that I don't know about. So I usually start and end every day reading - and a fair amount between as well.
who are some people that influence you?
The easy answer, the best answer is my parents. My parents were people who taught me throughout life how to treat people and how to interact with people, and the biggest thing I take from them is that they always gave a good example, that you treat everyone fairly, equally, respectfully. That you build relationships and those relationships will serve you over time. Here in St. Pete, Craig Sher and the Semblers, who I've worked with for the last 23 years, have been a huge influence on how I've done business and how I feel about how you do business and how you work within a community.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
What I talk about a lot and what I'm passionate about when I talk to student groups or young professional groups, really anyone in our industry, is that there are a lot of gray areas in business. There are a lot of paths you can take when you're doing business with people and when you're putting yourself out in the community. If we can all just try - when we get into those gray areas to err on the side of doing what is right, that will ultimately lead to the most success for you in life and in business. And success isn't necessarily defined by only economic success or money but by how well you sleep at night, the relationships you have and build, how people view you, how you go about your life. I believe that if you consistently try and do the right thing and treat people the right way, those rewards will be there for you in the end.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I wish I knew how to relax more and to let things come to me a little bit more, as opposed to constantly attacking and thinking about things. I wish I could be more inwardly calm, I've always been able to project an outward calmness. But be a little more inwardly calm both in my execution or both business things and things in my personal life.
I'm going to be leaving my day-to-day operating role as CEO of the Sembler Company at the end of this year. I don't know exactly what is next but I know I have all kinds of interests that I want to explore, probably too many. I'll probably have to narrow it down. I like to write, I like to work with charities, I like to talk with people in business about how you build a team and a culture. Business ethics, which I lecture on. I like to talk to leaders and future leaders and younger leaders about how they can operate their buisness better. How they can reach a goal of employee fulfillment.