Those unsung heroes just won national honors - four years in a row for Trojan Sig Corporation
Behind nearly every successful Sigma Chi chapter like Alpha Upsilon is a House Corporation helping to create a safe environment for undergraduate brothers and running the legal machinations of ownership the chapter house itself. But that rarely getting the spotlight.
Yet, for the fourth year in a row, the Trojan Sig House Corporation (TSHC) has been honored with a top international Sigma Chi “Gold Award” for Outstanding House Corporation bestowed by the Sigma Chi Board of Trustees.
“We were ecstatic,” said Billy Walk, Vice President of Housing for the TSHC. Walk is Senior Vice President at Colliers International based in Glendale managing industrial real estate transactions. “Though we all joined the board voluntarily because of our love of the Fraternity and our Chapter in particular, it is always nice to get recognition from the International Fraternity.”
“Three in a row is highly commendable,” says Rich Hronek, chairman of the Sigma Chi Grand Trustees, “because that tells everyone that they have been in compliance with all the [requirements of the] fraternity, Risk Management Foundation and local laws and regulations.” The awards are handed out by the Grand Trustees.
In other words, it’s a big deal.
Let’s be clear here: Serving on a House Corporation board can feel a little invisible while doing the critically important work of what is essentially running a multi-million-dollar business enterprise. Taxes, regulations, health and safety issues, rent, fees, zoning, codes, maintenance and repairs. It isn’t the sexiest stuff. But it’s really, really valuable.
It can also be immensely gratifying work. Winning the award again “provides a little bit of a jolt of gratification from our fellow brothers that we’re doing right for what otherwise is a thankless position,” said Walk.
Walk has a unique and poignant perspective for this work on behalf of the Alpha Upsilon chapter because, as an undergraduate, he played a key role in re-chartering Alpha Upsilon in 1999 bringing it back to life. Serving on the TSHC is a natural extension of that work.
The House Corporation board members come from diverse generations to give it a broad perspective. They are:
• Dan Vogelzang, President (1978)
• Billy Walk, Secretary and V.P. of Housing (2002)
• Matt Matteson, Legal Counsel (1981)
• Lacy Marlette, Treasurer (1968)
• Jon Muller, Development Chair (1984)
• Bob Vogelzang, Director (1981).
Its chief responsibility is to serve as the landlord of the chapter house and property. This includes managing all housing contracts, collecting rents and fees, and providing assistance in chapter house maintenance and renovation.
The TSHC works hand in hand with the Trojan Sig Foundation whose Its primary function is to support the educational mission of both the undergraduate chapter and the Trojan Sig Housing Corporation, including providing funds for the advancement of leadership training and academic scholarships.
The third critical leg of the triumvirate is the undergraduate chapter whose officers work closely with the TSHC and the TSF to keep the chapter focused on its character building and educational development mission for our brothers.
It is not lost on Billy that quite likely none of the current undergrads were even living when he and his fellow “re-founders” helped resurrect the chapter in 1999. That offers some deeper satisfaction to know an entirely new generation of brothers is forging ahead proudly.
Hronek says there are 184 chapters working with the Sigma Chi RMF. And 148 of them have a physical chapter house. The AU award puts us in the top 10 percent.
The General Fraternity is “among the largest in real estate holdings of fraternities with about $257 million in property holdings in LLCs,” explains Hronek, “but the fraternity itself does not own any individual house.” That may change. While several national fraternities
needed to own some chapters to keep them alive, Sigma Chi has had less of a need to do that. And keeping a legal separation between chapters and the general fraternity had been viewed as a prudent step. But that view has moderated recently. So, in coming years, the Grand Trustees will help implement a funding plan to invest in chapter ownership where needed. Trustees may also help create a real estate investment trust (REIT) to support the plan.
Until then, House Corporations will continue to be the dominant ownership vehicle for Sigma Chi chapters.
Alums who work with undergrads often notice that younger brothers lack the sense of history and perspective that accumulates over life. “The biggest highlight is working with and witnessing the undergraduate
Brothers go through the ups and downs of running a Chapter,” says Walk. “Though many don’t realize it at the time, they’re learning invaluable lessons for life on how to work with different people and how to run a business and family.”
That learning is present even among alumni brothers who gather together from time to time throughout our busy lives. Walk says the TSHC board reflects that. “Despite our divergent lives, TSHC has served as a kind of linchpin which draw us to give back to a bigger cause which is tied to some of the best years of our lives.”