Business news from the Fredericksburg region.
Getting to Know: Bill Vakos III
This week’s Getting to Know profile features Bill Vakos III, president of Spotsylvania County-based real estate development firm W.J. Vakos & Co.
Where you grew up and went to high school: We moved to the historic Spotsylvania Courthouse area from Virginia Beach when I was 5. We have made that area our home ever since. I graduated from Spotsylvania High in 1987.
Where you went to college and what you studied: I spent two years at Germanna Community College and then graduated from Old Dominion University with a personnel and business management degree.
Career history: While at ODU, my wife, Trish, and I were married. That brought on the need for my “real” full-time job. I went to work for my family business, leasing and managing our Hampton Roads investment properties. I was able to adequately lease up the buildings and sell them, allowing for us to move back to Fredericksburg in 1993.
Staying with our business, I assumed the same type of roles here, working on our projects all around the Fredericksburg region. In 2001, I began to assist our team in the development side of our business. By 2006, I was named president of our company, a title I still hold today.
Other parts of my career that I am equally proud of include serving as a deacon and stewardship chairman at Spotswood Baptist Church; serving on the boards of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Community Bank and Virginia College Building Authority; and coaching basketball for many years at Fredericksburg Christian Schools.
How long you have been involved with W.J. Vakos & Co.: My “older” brother, Bryan, and I have always, it seems, worked for the company. As kids, we helped out on weekends at the various construction sites dad had going. Neither of us would want it any other way.
Did you know growing up that you wanted to join the family business? When I was 19, in a father–son talk that I will never forget, my father told me that he would be needing my help one day with all he had planned. I took that to heart and put any other career out of mind.
What attracted you to the real estate field? I have always loved to work on complex problems and see if I can figure out the best way to solve the issue. Real estate is nothing more than complex problem-solving, 24 hours a day. I love the challenges and getting to work with great folks to solve what is in front of us each and every day.
What W.J. Vakos & Co. projects you are most proud of: Two things I really am proud of. First, our father was able to restore The Chimneys building on Caroline Street and the old Princess Anne Hotel, home of Davenport & Co. today. He received several local and national awards for that work.
Secondly, I am proud of our work in two locations in Spotsylvania. Southpoint I & II were at the end of the world 20 years ago. Now, adjacent to Exit 126, it is the hub of a thriving corridor that continues to grow and serve our community with each year.
I am also proud of what we have undertaken at Spotsylvania Courthouse Village. It inspires us each and every day to give back to the community that has taken care of our family for almost 40 years. To see each day the town of Spotsylvania Courthouse Village provide our county with the events, services, homes and businesses it deserves is a blessing to us and a pleasure to be a part of.
Goals for the company: In all of our businesses (hotels, residential, commercial, brokerage and property management) we are to be a force for good in our community. Leave our community a better place while we do our jobs.
Your thoughts about the region’s current economy and future outlook: I see more of the same. As we have noticed some improvements since 2011, we have not seen a rapid growth that we all had hoped for. I think the next two years will be more of the same, some good and some bad.
Family: Wife, Trish. Son, Collin. Daughter, Grace.
Hobbies: Family time, golf and hunting.
Person in history with whom you’d most like to dine: This may be a little different. I would love to have dinner with my grandfather, William J. Vakos Sr., along with my father, brother and son. My grandfather died when my father was a teenager. As a Greek immigrant, my grandfather built the first motel and restaurant business in what has become Virginia Beach. His 11 children and 35-plus grandchildren have gone on to contribute all across our state. I would like to get his perspective on hard work and family and see what he thinks about our world today.
—As told to Bill Freehling