SAN DIEGO, CA — When you think of real estate investment, you think of an industry that is in a continual stage of flux.
A continual stage of flux describes perfectly the early life of Greg Fowler (83, finance). To Fowler, who is the founder and managing partner of FPA Multifamily, LLC and FPA Multifamily, LLC, change was a routine part of life. “I grew up in cities all over California and Oregon,” said Fowler. “I lived in about 10 different homes before I was 18.”
It was also a major transformation in his home life that brought him to San Diego State in the first place. Fowler, who was the first member of his family to attend college, had planned to go to the University of Southern California, but things didn’t work out as planned. “My stepfather was a professional gambler and, in fact, won the World Series of Poker in 1979. However, due to changes in his financial situation, I ended up having to pay for 100 percent of my college education,” recalled Fowler. “As a public school, the tuition at SDSU was more modest,” so Fowler decided to come to SDSU with the intent of transferring to USC.
Fowler never did transfer to USC, however, he did become an outstanding business student at SDSU. Finance professor, Dr. Kamal Haddad, took notice of Fowler’s ambition and intelligence when he took Haddad’s Finance 325 course (Planning of Capital Expenditures) in during the spring semester of 1983.
“He was success-oriented from the beginning,” said Haddad. “Greg was very bright and he was clearly not afraid to be challenged or afraid to take risks.”
Fowler developed an interest in the real estate industry and while he was still an SDSU student in 1982, he purchased a dilapidated four-unit apartment building, refurbished it, and sold it for a profit two-years later. He formed Fowler Property Acquisition and FPA Multifamily with a partner in 1985. Since then, Fowler’s companies have purchased over 60,000 apartment units in 17 states and sold over 45,000. His companies manage about $1.7 billion in real estate and employ 560 people.
Even though Fowler travels about 75 percent of the time, he finds time to give back to his alma mater by serving on the SDSU Campanile Foundation board. “I had been asked by a fraternity brother if I could visit the campus and speak to some of the students about my company and life experiences,” he said. “Shortly after that, I met with some of the universities leaders, who asked if I could get involved.”
Haddad recalled Fowler as a diligent worker in the classroom and isn’t surprised at Fowler’s advice to today’s SDSU students: “The harder you work, the better you are going to do. People who put the time into their studies, their jobs before and after college and even on the sports practice field are the people who succeed,” said Fowler as he points to an SDSU and Major League Baseball icon to prove his point.
“I think of Tony Gwynn who played basketball for Long Beach Polytechnic High when they beat our high school in the California Interscholastic Federation finals,” Fowler recalled. “He wasn’t the biggest or fastest player, but he worked the hardest and it made him the best player on the team. He continued to excel at both baseball and basketball at SDSU and I think we all know what happened to Tony after that.”