J. Scott Scheel
J. Scott Scheel is an entrepreneur, founder of multiple national businesses, and a commercial real estate developer and educator. His companies manage over six million square feet of commercial properties across 30 states. He is a self-made entrepreneur whose limitless imagination and determination have driven him to astounding success. His diverse businesses include energy and film production, but his educational entities, Commercial Academy and Scheel Publishing, teach financial and economic literacy to help others achieve their dreams, especially through commercial real estate investing.
In addition to his popularity as a commercial real estate investing mogul, J. Scott is a sought-after international speaker and a well-known thought leader in his industry. He is a two-time Congressional Businessman of the Year, as recognized by the Wall Street Journal, a frequent advisor on investing and finance on Fox Business and Varney & Co., and he has been featured in hundreds of national media and publications, including Forbes, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Business Insider, Resident, Market Watch, etc.
You’ve had a remarkable journey. Tells us a bit about your background.
I grew up in a poor community in Ohio, so I always knew that I didn’t want to struggle financially. Interestingly, I didn’t set out to be in real estate. I only got into it because I wanted to be in film, and I thought I could make enough money to let me start my true passion. But I also knew I didn’t want to be just another a starving artist, and I never wanted anyone else dictating how far I could go in my life.
Right after high school, I skipped college to work in computers. It was the late eighties-early nineties, and tech was booming. I worked ten years in tech manufacturing and distribution of personal computers for a company that did military, government, and personal computing, and sold millions in computers. When that industry became more software based, I transitioned into commercial real estate, starting with one 24-unit multifamily property. I built my way up to bigger and bigger developments, with a medical office building, then getting into mixed-use, retail, golf courses and housing subdivisions. Over the years, I’ve expanded into every category with over six million square feet of property.
How did your success as a real estate investor lead to a career as an international speaker and the founder of both a media company and a training academy?
I’ve always had a passion for helping people and for teaching. About 18 years ago, people began asking me if I’d be willing to teach what I had accomplished myself, so I found Tony Robbins and LeGrand, who taught me a lot. Then I was approached to share my story and knowledge on a large tour. Within six months, I went from being an unknown to sharing stages with some of the world’s most influential people —four presidents, six prime ministers, dozens of billionaires, actors, and musicians. I was a young 30-something guy speaking to arenas full of people about how to create wealth, and I was humbled by it all. It was quite a leap and maybe not yet deserved back then, but divinely provided. It launched that portion of my career and it’s been an unbelievable run; I’ve taught millions of people and helped change countless lives.
So I was about 10 years into my real estate career, and I realized that I had all this success, yet still had not fulfilled my initial dream of being in film. I also wanted to share and use my own success to help more people achieve their dreams of financial stability. That’s when I founded Scheel Publishing to provide media content and then Commercial Academy as a means to directly deliver content. Through these companies, I’ve been able to teach tens of thousands about my strategies in commercial real estate developing and investing.
How are your companies helping people achieve their dreams?
I believe people are willing to work hard and invest the time into becoming successful, but they need to fully understand how to do it, and they need mentorship and support along the way.
Through Scheel Publishing, we produce mixed media, video, books, proprietary software, podcasts, broadcasts, digital content and other output, such as feature films and documentaries. These are all educational and training resources that share my unique system for creative commercial real estate investing.
Commercial Academy provides live events and training, along with top-tier mentorship programs and coaching. We’re a complete resource center of products and experienced guidance, with an accent on individual service. Our support enables people to source the right properties, raise capital, negotiate deals, rehabilitate and manage properties, sell at the right time and in the most profitable way, and more. We teach people everything they need to be successful in commercial real estate, no matter what their background is or how much money they have. We don’t focus on residential real estate but many of my students started in residential, and many were successfully flipping homes. I taught them how to scale, and the benefits of commercial real estate.
Of the many factors that made you a unique success story and leader, if you had to choose one trait, what would it be?
Well, we don’t just do everything on a mercenary basis. We endeavor to find assets that can be improved to positively impact their community. We serve demand rather than trying to create it. With our coaching and mentorship programs, we talk with individuals on a very personal level to uncover their “why,” as opposed to just being about the money. We’ve learned that by adding the highest value to these people or these communities, everyone is more successful, and things just seem to work out better.
We don’t have time to talk about all of your other businesses but tell us about your film company, Burning River Productions.
I’m very excited about it. We’ve produced three films so far, and they’ve all won awards. Most recently, we distributed our film called Madtown through Sony Pictures to 19 countries. We’re now producing four new projects: a documentary about the cathedrals of rock-and-roll, a biographical feature film on the life of the world’s most prolific African American motivational speaker, and two fiction-based projects. If there’s one theme that runs to everything that I attempt to do. It is that we look for ways to make people’s lives better, and as I’ve always quoted “It Only Takes One Deal, One Time To Change Your Life Forever.”
J. Scott Scheel
Commercial Real Estate Educator/Developer — Commercial Academy/Scheel Publishing
Download the magazine to see J. Scott's feature on page 20.