August 7, 2014 / By Donna Reist, Corporate Marketing

Q&A with Bill Krul, CEO

Too busy to bother with ‘thank you’? Try telling Miller-Valentine CEO

Spending an entire career with one company is becoming increasingly rare. But Bill Krul, CEO of Miller-Valentine Group, has done just that. For 44 years, starting out in the field, Krul has worked for one of Southwest Ohio’s most prolific developers.

“The company has gone through a lot of changes,” Krul said during a sit-down interview at Miller-Valentine’s offices in Deerfield Township.
Founded 50 years ago, the company started building highways and bridges in Dayton.

Today, Miller-Valentine is an 800-employee company with offices in Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbia, S.C., and Charleston, S.C. The company ranks No. 1 on our commercial real estate developers list on Page 20.

The company is involved in just about every aspect of real estate, from construction and development to property management and financing, for both commercial and residential markets. The company’s stat sheet is impressive: 80 million square feet of commercial space, 149 multifamily communities totaling more than 13,000 units and commercial projects in 22 states.
It’s the company’s diversity of skills that have allowed Miller-Valentine to thrive during good times and survive during the bad times, Krul said.
Even though Krul doesn’t call Cincinnati home, he’s been engaged in the market since the late 1970s.

“We’ve always liked the growth and demographics, as well as the blending of different business types,” Krul said.

He shares his thoughts on getting an early start in construction, what drives him crazy and why you shouldn’t push him in a pool:

When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’m not sure I knew what I wanted to be, but I remember playing in my backyard, digging tunnels. And we would have to shore the tunnels up, so we used two-by-fours. I always enjoyed building things. My dad was in the real estate business and owned a few homes. On the weekends, I would help him with handyman work at the rentals.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The most common advice I’ve put into my own words. Everyone says to enjoy your day. I say, enjoy the moment. I live a lifestyle of enjoying the moment. If you can’t enjoy what you’re doing and you don’t feel comfortable, it’s hard to give to others. I tell my children, you can’t have a good day with a bad attitude.

What keeps you busy away from the office? Any hobbies?

Work is my first hobby. I like to bike. One of my accomplishments was that I rode 4,000 miles last year. I also enjoy golf, hunting, and fishing.

What’s been your smartest business move?

When I joined Miller-Valentine. Honestly, the significant event for Miller-Valentine, and there have been lots of them in recent years, for the diversity of our business was the merger with Mike Green’s company, apartment developer Associated Land Group Inc. There have been a lot of good business moves we’ve made. But for diversity of growth, that merger was significant.

What do you do if you can’t sleep?

I’ll read business magazines and the Business Courier. I’ll go through and cut out articles and attach a note to them saying congratulations on your success or meeting your goal. That’s important. I probably send 20 to 30 notes a week in recognition of people’s accomplishments. I also watch the History Channel, especially “Modern Marvels.”

Night owl or early bird?

Early bird. I tend to push both ends. I’m up around 4:30 a.m. Sometimes I’ll be yawning around 4 p.m., waiting for my second wind. The older I get, I get to bed a little earlier and get up a little earlier.

What’s the simplest thing you never learned to do?

Swim. When I was 4 or 5, I went through Red Cross training and became a swimmer. But on vacation, I got caught in turbulent water. Since then, I’ve never felt comfortable in water.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People who don’t return phone calls, texts or emails. We have a 24-hour rule – you have to get back to someone within 24 hours. The other is when people forget to say “thank you.”

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?

On a wonderful bike ride, maybe 50 miles on a beautiful day. Or at home, working in the yard. Planting flowers, pulling weeds.

If you could do one thing over, what would it be?

I don’t often look back, but I wonder what would have happened if I continued four years playing baseball. (Krul spent two years at Georgia Southern University playing baseball before moving back to the Dayton area.) But I enjoyed working more.

What do you think is Cincinnati’s best-kept secret?

Where the city doesn’t get enough credit is that our big companies tend to be damn good corporate citizens. Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Cintas, Western & Southern, and there are plenty others. There is so much power in that community.

Tom Demeropolis
Reporter- Cincinnati Business Courier