Boji Group Shapes Michigan Landscape Through Trusted Partnerships
By Ann Kammerer / 04.26.21 / 3 min read
Banner image courtesy of Eat Pomegranate Photography.
Specializing in public-private partnerships, the Boji Group is built on the foundation of friendship and family.
Headquartered in downtown Lansing, the family-owned group, led by the father-son team of Louie and Ron Boji, has been devoted to advancing sustainable building development for nearly 40 years. Admired for their success in transforming cities and skylines, the Bojis are most proud of
the trust placed in them by the communities they serve through progressive real estate development, property management and construction projects.
“Our company culture was formed by Dad,” said Ron Boji, President and CEO. “One of his many sayings was that ‘my handshake is all you need.’”
From the Ground Up
Ron has led the Boji Group since 1993, succeeding his father whose evolving enterprises started with a multi-faceted family business in the late 1960s. Today, the Boji Group has become synonymous with downtown Lansing as the city’s tallest skyscraper bears the Boji name. The group has also made an imprint on several cities state-wide, and employs more than 700 employees in five states in various lines of business.
“Our employees are the backbone of our organization,” said Ron. “We truly believe in that and couldn’t be as successful as we are without them. Many of our employees have been with us since day one.”
In Lansing, the Boji Group has transformed downtown through revitalization and new development. Across the street from the Boji Tower, the company is busy with renovations to the former Billie S. Farnum Building, rebranding the Class A office tower as “The Louie” in honor of the family patriarch.
The Boji Group also undertook the prolific build of the 160,000-square foot Connie B. Binsfeld Office Building, originally named Capitol View when completed for the State Senate in 2004. At that time, new construction was nearly unheard of in the blocks surrounding Michigan’s capitol. Boji forged ahead, assuming the risk, driven by vision, and propelled by the desire to give back to the city and state that had provided the opportunity to prosper.
“We give back through brick-and-mortar for the community as well as in other fashions,” said Ron. “We also gift to charitable causes and community organizations through the Louie Boji Family Foundation.”
Along with recent projects, the Boji Group has steadily renovated and built new construction throughout the downtown district of Greater Lansing, and the Flint and Detroit regions. With a portfolio of more than 50 properties, the group meets a diverse range of business and organizational needs through historic structures like the Hollister Building, high-end office buildings, and busy retail and mixed use centers, while maintaining focus on public-private partnerships.
For more than 22 years, Martin Commercial Properties has served Boji as the exclusive leasing agent for the company’s properties. Ron said that Martin has provided the stable support needed to ensure occupancy for the properties they own, renovate or build from ground up. Since the day Martin and Boji shook hands in 1998, Boji properties have never dipped below a 90 percent occupancy. Ron credits that success to the team at Martin and his trusted leasing advisor, Eric F. Rosekrans, Senior Vice President and Office Advisor.
“Martin never takes short cuts or tries to get to the finish line quickly,” Ron said. “They bring hard work and ethics to any transaction. They mirror the way we do business. It’s the perfect marriage.”
The Boji’s business and portfolio of more than 2.3 million square feet of commercial space got its start with a small grocery store in metro Detroit. In the 1960s, Louie and his family were recent immigrants from Iraq. Ron was just three months old when he arrived in the United States in 1968.
Growing up, Ron saw how his father worked long, hard hours to manage the four to ten grocery stores he owned at any one time. Starting at age twelve, Ron would help out around the stores during the summer, getting up early to go in with his dad.
“More than anything, he was instilling in me the value of hard work and the dollar,” Ron said. “He showed me that if you work hard and have ethics you can succeed in this country. He regarded it as a great privilege to live and work here.”
Ron said his dad’s work ethic and vision sparked his passion for real estate and development. When he was seventeen, Ron watched Louie build the family’s first shopping center in Marysville, Michigan—with one of their grocery stores the anchor tenant.
“My dad would literally change cities with his vision,” Ron said. “When I saw that, I knew that’s what I would always want to do.”
Ron attended Michigan State University and earned his B.S. in construction management. Wanting to strike out on his own, he moved to California to manage a computer warehouse. When the business expanded to Michigan he moved back to Lansing in 1994 and opened his own computer warehouses in South Lansing and East Lansing. Things changed again in 1998 when his dad bought the Michigan National Tower, and commenced with extensive renovations both inside and out.
“That changed our lives forever,” reflected Ron.
“I re-entered the business with Dad at that point.”
While Louie has retired, his presence still resonates through the company’s style and corporate culture as evidenced by the $20 million renovation of The Louie. The iconic building will retain its historic features, while discreetly paying homage to the Boji founder and board chair through commissioned artwork and distinctive features in the lobby.
Visitors to the building will be initially greeted by two large paintings, influenced by the life and principles of Louie Boji. Significant dates, favorite restaurants and songs, names of children and business partners, and more than 100 favorite sayings like ‘always deliver more than you promise,’ ‘it’s more of a blessing to give than receive,’ and ‘if you’re going to think, think big—the effort is the same,’ are all worked into the acrylic and oil pastel pieces created by Michigan native Brian Graves of Big Art Chicago.
“We want to be sure that Dad can see the effect of all he has done for others,” Ron said. “This restoration is our way to pay tribute, as well as to say thank you to Lansing for the opportunities we’ve been given.” ■