Nic Alexander has a knack for business, culinary arts, and music.
Photograph by Shawn Harper
From the pages of In Business magazine.
About five years ago, Joe Alexander and his (“slightly younger”) sibling, Nic, 38, bought The Alexander Company from their dad, Randy, a prolific local developer. The company that bears their surname is nearly 41 years old now, and these property brothers — both 40 Under 40 alums — continue to carry the torch as president and vice president, respectively.
The Alexander Company handles urban revitalization, adaptive reuse, and infill development. Its work in historic preservation has breathed life into buildings around the country that were often dilapidated to the point of being overlooked by other developers.
“Our company did a lot of interior renovations here long ago, but frankly, there just aren’t that many buildings like that around Madison anymore,” says Nic, “which is a testament to the city’s growth.”
Their main focus is the Novation Campus, a 62-acre multiphase and master-planned development along Rimrock Road, which includes new buildings, businesses, retail, and soon, adjacent workforce housing [Artisan Village] within minutes of downtown.
Admittedly, Nic wasn’t excited to jump on the family bandwagon early on. He graduated from UW–Milwaukee with a degree in English and a minor in psychology. “English interested me, actually, and kept me coming back to class,” he laughs. “But then I wondered what I would do. Write a novel at age 23? Probably not,” he smirks.
He always enjoyed baking, and considered culinary school, but quickly decided he’d had enough schooling and moved back to join the family business.
How did you get your start?
I started as a copy editor here, then moved into marketing and public relations. I left the company for a few years to run a marketing company with a designer. We parted amicably and I came back to the family business again.
What’s your role now?
I’m on the operations/property management side of our business. When we do a project, not only do we develop, design, construct, and administer it, but we also manage and lease our own properties and provide all of the facility maintenance. I oversee that aspect of it.
In this area, we have about 10 commercial buildings, or over a million square feet of office space, and about 400 apartments.
What do you enjoy most?
We just do really interesting projects. Most companies wouldn’t take a 400,000-square-foot mill in Greensboro, South Carolina, for example, that’s completely falling apart, and restore it into a great place to live.
It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally realized my passion for this. As long as I’m here, I’d enjoy almost any job we have.
Do you have a favorite project?
The Milwaukee Soldiers Home in the military cemetery next to Miller Park is my current favorite. I’m really proud that it’s being restored to its original intent — to serve veterans.
It was built as a recuperative village to help transition vets after the Civil War. My grandfather actually spent time there after World War II, so there’s a personal connection for us, as well.
When it’s done in about a year, it will provide 101 supportive-housing units for vets and their families who may be homeless or at risk of being homeless.
What other interests do you have?
I have a radio show on Thursday nights at 98.7-FM WVMO in Monona that I’ve been hosting since the station first launched in 2015. It’s fun. I’ll play just about any genre of music except modern country and rap.
What about your culinary interests?
I still love to bake — breads, mostly. My wife and I have a six-year-old daughter who loves to bake, too, so she and I have a lot of fun together on weekends getting flour all over the kitchen. That’s really what makes me happy.
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