Best of Lawrence profile: Cherry Hill Properties believes community is the key to success

Brenda and Bill Schulteis (front row, center) and daughter, Lauren (far left), outside their office building located in the Orchard Corners shopping center at Kasold Dr. and Bob Billings Parkway. Bill holds the shingle from the first property he and Brenda purchased.

Editor’s Note: This article is sponsored content produced by the Journal-World’s advertising department. Businesses who received a top three award in the Best of Lawrence competition are eligible to participate in the Best of Lawrence Spotlight Series program, which includes a question-and-answer profile. Look for future profiles in the print and online editions of the Journal-World.

Congratulations on being voted the “Best of Lawrence”! How does it feel to receive this recognition from the community?

Fantastic! We are very proud of the recognition from the community and our customers. We are especially proud that we have won first place for property management company seven years in a row.

What do you believe sets your business apart?

We are a family-owned business that started 35 years ago when my wife and business partner Brenda, and I (Bill) got married. Our first house was acquired near campus shortly after we got married. The company continues with family ownership and is headquartered in Lawrence where it started.

We offer very diverse properties that range from affordable housing to high-end residential, commercial centers located all over Lawrence, as well as office, retail, and a data center outside of Lawrence.

Our employees are dedicated to the company and service to our customers. We practice what Ewing Kauffman practiced; that all employees that share in the success of the business share in the profits. Both Brenda and I are former employees of Marion Laboratories, founded by Ewing Kauffman.

Bill and Brenda Schulteis at the Best of Lawrence Winners Bash event with their children, grandchild, and employees, all who contribute to the success of Cherry Hill Properties.

Can you provide a brief overview of your business’s history, including its founding, initial goals and how it has evolved over the years?

Brenda and I started our business with one single family house near campus at 937 Mississippi. Our initial goal was to acquire a half dozen homes for retirement income. Now, 35 years later, Cherry Hill Properties owns and manages 10 commercial centers (8 in Lawrence) and many residential properties, from single family homes to townhomes and apartment complexes in Lawrence.

Community support is crucial. How do you engage with the local community, and how has this engagement impacted your success?

Our community includes our employees, tenants, contractors, suppliers, family, and the community at large. It takes all these parts to have a successful business. We support and follow local businesses through attending ribbon cuttings, social media, and events. I have served on the Board of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and Brenda serves on the Friends of the Lied Board.

Because of our success and support from the community we are able to provide financial and time support to our Church, Boys and Girls Club, Lawrence Humane Society, Jubilee Cafe, O’Connell Children’s Shelter (Festival of Trees) and many others. We are happy to provide space for Toys for Tots/Blue Santa in one of our commercial spaces every Christmas. We also support the arts through the Lied Center as a VIP sponsor.

Could you share an example of how your business has embraced innovation to stay ahead of the curve?

Our software provides high-tech support for the management of our properties and support for our tenants. It is continuously updated. We have moved to a paperless system with online capabilities from application though tenancy. Our tenants can view their account 24 hours a day, contact us through their portal, or make payments and sign leases without stepping out of their home or business.

Our contractors can opt in for electronic payments that provide instant deposits into their bank accounts. We also keep up with our local competition and visit similar operations in other communities to see what others are implementing.

Businesses face challenges as well. Can you discuss a significant hurdle your business has overcome and the lessons learned from it?

Covid 19 was the biggest challenge our business has faced in our history. Many of our commercial tenants had to shut down during the lockdowns and we worked with them to create customized payment plans when needed to ensure the continued success of both our businesses during a time of such uncertainty. We carried 40 families that lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic for up to six months until programs were provided by governments to help families in need with rental assistance. Safety of our tenants and employees was our main concern since we had common areas and had to go into tenant’s homes to handle work orders. Our employees, contractors, and tenants were very adaptive and understanding as we went through that difficult time.

Bill and Brenda Schulteis

The “Best of Lawrence” title often indicates a commitment to excellence in customer service. How do you ensure that every customer has a positive experience with your business?

We treat all tenants with respect and care. We embrace new ideas or new ways to do business. We take good care of our properties as if they were our own, which they are. We only manage properties that we own or have owned.

We also follow Fair Housing Laws very strictly. I often say if the world followed fair housing in everyday affairs we would have fewer problems to resolve.

Are there any upcoming projects, events, or initiatives that you’re excited about and would like the community to know?

We have recently acquired Sunset West Shopping center in Lawrence and are looking forward to improving the property.

Our biggest project will be the redevelopment of Oak Tower in downtown Kansas City, MO. It is 100 years old and 28 floors of opportunity.