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Through life's lessons, Hansen has built an empire

Published January 24, 2013 8:21 pm

Real's new boss • Logan developer's career shows vision, confidence in the team.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan developer Dell Loy Hansen raised a few eyebrows the day he purchased a minority interest of Real Salt Lake in 2009 when he misstated the name of the soccer team, twice calling it "Salt Lake Real."

His quick recovery speaks to the confidence he has shown in building a commercial and residential real estate empire that spans several states.

Undaunted by his gaffes, Hansen passionately described the fairy tale story he had lived since he first decided to become a partner of Real majority owner Dave Checketts.

"Real will be a stronger, better, championship franchise — I believe — because Dave invited me in to help him," Hansen said.

That invitation had come earlier, during a party to watch the U.S. national soccer team play a qualifying game for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Seated with Checketts and Michael Eisner, the former CEO of Walt Disney Co., Hansen listened to Checketts try to interest Eisner in buying a piece of the team.

"You really can't treat me like chopped liver," Hansen recalled thinking at the time. "I'm sitting right by this conversation. So they lean over and say, 'Maybe you'd like a piece.' I says, 'Yeah, I think I would.' And over the next eight weeks, I was just a little quicker to the punch than Michael Eisner."

Hansen ended up purchasing a 49 percent stake in the team, its stadium and the KALL-AM radio station for what was believed to be around $52 million.

His company, Wasatch Group, and its many subsidiaries, have far deeper pockets.

Among its holdings are high-profile Salt Lake properties such as Wells Fargo Center, the Ken Garff Building, Questar Corporate Center and Woodlands Business Park.

The company also owns and manages more than 3 million square feet of commercial property in Utah, California, Arizona and Washington — along with 65 multifamily residential properties in five western states.

"Dell Loy is one of the great self-made leaders of this state," said Mark Bouchard, senior managing director for the commercial real estate services firm CBRE. "He built his company from scratch and has worked at building a good organization with good people in it.

"Good leaders, by definition, have a vision, they're motivated, they work hard toward achieving that vision — and Dell Loy certainly possesses all of these qualities."

Hansen, 61, has been the driving force behind the Wasatch Group as its CEO and founder since its inception in 1988.

Wasatch began on the heels of the nation's savings and loan crisis by purchasing real estate from the Resolution Trust Corp., a government agency that seized assets from troubled financial institutions and resold the properties to bargain-seeking investors.

In 1993, Wasatch purchased its first commercial office property, the Woodlands, at 3498 S. 700 East. The company's hallmark acquisition occurred in 2001 when it purchased the Wells Fargo Center in the heart of Salt Lake City's central business district and set up offices in the capital city. Wasatch corporate headquarters are in Logan.

Wasatch has since divided its commercial and residential operations, with Wasatch Property Management owning and managing multifamily properties, and Wasatch Commercial Management operating its commercial portfolio.

Hansen has said that he learned the importance of investing from his great-grandfather, who grew up in a dugout basement home in the central Utah hamlet of Redmond, according to Huntsman Alumni Magazine.

"Even as a child, my great-grandfather would put 50 cents of every dollar he earned into a jar and save it," Hansen said. "He didn't ever want to pay interest to others but rather to be paid interest by them, and that guided all of his decisions."

Hansen, an Aggie, received his bachelor's degree in political science from Utah State University in 1982. —

Dell Loy Hansen, CEO, Wasatch Group

He directs a multibillion-dollar real estate development firm. Its holdings:

Utah properties • Wells Fargo Center, City Center, West Broadway Tower, Ken Garff Building, Questar Corporate Center, Woodlands Business Park, all in Salt Lake City; Draper Corporate Park; Marketstar Building, Ogden; Riverwoods Shoppes, Wasatch Group corporate headquarters, Logan

Commercial portfolio •Owns and manages more than 3 million square feet of commercial property in Utah, California, Arizona and Washington.

Multifamily units •Owns and manages 65 properties that include 15,000 apartment homes in five western states

Employees •500