Robert Strachota uses gifts to help Catholic Charities

| September 15, 2011 | 0 Comments
Robert Strachota

Leading With Faith winner Bob Strachota, president of Shenehon Company in Minneapolis, has used his knowledge of commercial real estate to help Catholic Charities. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Catholic Charities was having a frustrating time with facilities.

The agency would move a program to a low-rent property and fix the place up. As soon as the lease was up, the landlord would double the rent because the property now had more value, and Catholic Charities would need to move.

Then Robert Strachota, president of Shenehon Company, a nation-wide leader in evaluating real estate and businesses, was named to Catholic Charities board of directors.

“I convinced the board that instead of renting we should buy real estate and make it tax exempt,” Strachota explained. Catholic Charities saved rent money and began to build net worth and buying power.

From the Shenehon offices in downtown Minneapolis, Strachota told The Catholic Spirit that God’s hand is in his involvement with Catholic Charities and all his life.

“I think God knew I wasn’t opposed to buying real estate, so he must have said to himself, ‘I’m putting Strachota on this board,’” he said with a smile.

“Christ has a purpose for us,” he said. “I’m a broken piece of this broken world myself, but I’m supposed to fix whatever I can.”

He didn’t always take that approach.

“When I was young and trying to figure out how the world worked, I saw money as the answer,” Strachota said.

Money one of God’s tools

“I came to realize that money is just one of God’s tools and not the end in itself. I had to learn how to detach myself from money. It made me better in my work when I wasn’t thinking about money for myself but how I could do the best for others.”

His mentor was the company founder, the late Howard Shenehon, who taught Strachota both the satisfaction of giving and the key to the business he now leads.

“Mr. Shenehon taught me how to value a business and how to value real estate with integrity. That’s an important treasure of this company.”

Katherine Hering sees integrity as a faith-driven gift Bob Strachota brings to the workplace. Hering, Strachota’s executive assistant, nominated her boss for the Leading With Faith Award because, as she put it, she’s in a unique position to watch Bob work and sees that his Catholic faith animates all of his decisions.

“Occasionally clients will try to influence Bob and try to sway his assessment to their advantage,” Hering said. “Bob will not allow a client to do that . . . (he) believes that objectivity is the only ethical way to assign value and truly serve his clients.”

In the office Strachota loves to build up others, Hering added, and donates time, money and professional expertise as a matter of first priority.

Generous with his time

He’s shared those gifts on the school board, finance committee and parish council at Our Lady of Grace in Edina, where he and his wife Anne raised four girls. He’s currently on the University of St. Thomas Real Estate Advisory Board, the St. Paul Seminary Board of Trustees, and the board of the Catholic Community Foundation.

How does he do it?

“Actually, I find relaxation in being productive with my time,” Strachota said. “I feel fulfilled, relaxed. Life seems to have purpose. As we walk each day, we all have our silent partner in Christ. He’s the best equity partner we could ever have.”

Biography

Title: President, Shenehon Company, Minneapolis

Parish: Our Lady of Grace, Edina

Spouse: Anne

Children: Madeline, Suzanne and Elizabeth Strachota, and Katherine Ostlund and one grandchild

Activities: Trustee on boards of St. Paul Seminary and Catholic Community Foundation; on real estate advisory boards of University of St. Thomas and U of M; Knights of Malta member

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Category: Leading With Faith