Four generations of Woodbury brothers, sons, daughters and cousins are celebrating 100 years in the real estate management business — all thanks to grandpa F. Orin Woodbury.
F. Orin Woodbury loved making furniture, he was good at it. He had a dream of one day having his own furniture business. However, World War I started and furniture factories were closing and being used for the war effort, according to Randy Woodbury, president of Woodbury Corp.
In an effort to find something to do, F. Orin went to work with LeGrand Richard’s real estate office. Richards would later be called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“In very short order grandpa bought out LeGrand and continued to run it,” said Rick Woodbury, chairman.
When LeGrand got a call from the LDS Church, he left his business behind. It was fortuitous for F. Orin Woodbury.
Jeff Woodbury, senior vice president of development and acquisition added, “LeGrand went to the Southern States Mission. He came back, had no calling and started another real estate business. Grandfather bought LeGrand’s company three times; they were good friends.”
From those early days and through many more, Woodburys have learned their grandfather’s “gospel of work,” Rick Woodbury said. “He was scared we would blow it in the third generation.”
All of the cousins agree that their grandfather and fathers instilled the principles of integrity, being honest in your dealings, and being transparent and straightforward.
Hard work wins
That work ethic has lead the Woodbury Corp. to a plethora of real estate ventures, including international shopping centers.
In 1965 they became interested in Utah County for a regional mall. At the time ZCMI was also interested in locating in Utah County.
The University Parkway didn’t exist at the time but they knew the Utah Department of Transportation was putting it in.
People thought F. Orin’s son Wally was crazy building a mall in orchards, said Lynn Woodbury, senior vice president of architecture.
“Provo was looked at. He (Wally) went for the central location. Utah County has been very good to the Woodbury family,” said Rick Woodbury. “That has motivated us to give back with the growth of UVU.”
Rick Woodbury also notes that all of the growth in the business through the generations couldn’t have been done without their spouses’ support.
“We’re incredibly lucky, all of us are on our first marriage,” said Guy Woodbury, senior vice president of hospitality.
The Woodburys have had their share of ups and downs and pain and sickness.
Lynn Woodbury doesn’t like bringing attention to himself and would rather talk about the company or family, but in some fashion he is a hero to his kin.
Due to an accident in 1985, Lynn became quadriplegic and is confined to a wheelchair. “He’s accomplished more than anybody I know of,” said Rick Woodbury. “I have never heard him complain. He carries more than his load.”
Lynn added, “Even with my disability I need to work extra hard.”
“Reaching 100 years is a huge milestone for our business and our family, and it’s humbling to think that what started as a dream of my grandfather’s has grown and stood the test of time,” said Rick Woodbury. “We are very proud of the individual projects we’ve been part of, but without a doubt our greatest satisfaction has been getting to know the people and becoming part of the fabric of the many communities in which we work.”
In Utah County, Woodbury Corp. owns/operates over 3.6 million square feet of office and retail, one hotel, and over 500 apartment units, with many more on the way.
The most notable of these properties is University Place in Orem. It is a 120-acre development that has been the retail hub of Orem since 1973. Woodbury is currently involved with a $500 million revitalization of the area that includes upscale residential offerings, class-A offices and community green space.
In Lehi, Woodbury Corp. transformed 130 acres of wetlands into The Meadows, a premier shopping district in northern Utah County.
Spanish Fork now touts the Canyon Creek Commercial Center, one of the largest commercial developments underway along the Wastach Front. It is a 220 acre mixed-use project that includes CostCo, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Cinemark, Olive Garden and more.
The Woodbury Corp. owns other developments and pieces of land in Utah and throughout the county. Notable developments include Magic Valley Mall in Twin Falls, Idaho. The District, a mixed-use development in Lenexa, Kansas and Sun Behavioral Hospitals in Columbus, Ohio and Erlanger, Kentucky.
The next generation
What they are seemingly most proud of is the Woodbury legacy continues with the fourth and fifth generations.
“Some of the fifth generation are in high school and starting to work,” Jeff Woodbury said. “We are completely transitioned to the fourth generation. We’re blessed there are 18 fourth generation in important positions.”
As for female working Woodburys, they are proud that in the fourth generation there is a female that runs the advertising and sign business, a fourth generation female doing hotel remodeling, and the accountant in charge of taxes is a fourth generation female.
The Woodbury generations say they would be remiss without giving a nod and shout out to those of the family that work had but are not of the bloodline, including the University Place manager Rob Kallas who has served since the mall opened, and to Rob Snelson, general manager of the Hampton Inn in Orem, a Woodbury hotel.
“My family appreciates what an extraordinary feat it is for a business like ours to stand the test of time like it has, and we believe it comes down to integrity and passion,” said Randy Woodbury. “We are fortunate so many in our family are as passionate about this work as F. Orin was when he founded the company, and we look forward to continuing this legacy for many, many years to come.”