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Alumni Profile: James Wangelin, '12

Posted: December 19, 2018

Building a successful home-rehabbing business is hard. But James Wangelin, ’12, learned firsthand the importance of patience and persistence when it comes to home improvement.

“My dad built the house I grew up in,” said Wangelin, who studied business administration at Buffalo State. “But they didn’t have enough money to finish it originally. So every year, they had a little bit more money, and during that growing up, I was able to help fix the living room, then the dining room, and then the kitchen.”

Wangelin learned the technical skills needed to rehab homes professionally while growing up, but his Buffalo State classes instilled the fundamentals to launch a real-estate investment business, Wangelin Development. Wangelin has purchased, remodeled, and sold or rented more than 20 properties in Buffalo since starting in spring 2015.

“When I was a kid, I always wanted to own my own business,” he said. “I decided on a marketing concentration because I wanted to be able to market myself, my business, and my product.”

By the time he was 27, Wangelin had three successful businesses under his belt: a summer storage and moving company for college students, a professional boat-detailing service, and Wangelin Development.

Wangelin admits that he wasn’t always a confident leader.

“When I started at Buffalo State, I personally wouldn’t say I was a full-born leader, but they developed me into that,” he said. At Buffalo State, Wangelin was the director of a residence hall, a first-year student mentor, and captain of the cross-country and the track and field teams. He said being a student-athlete and resident assistant strengthened his leadership and team-building acumen.

Directly after graduation, Wangelin started a supervisor leadership position at GEICO Insurance, where he worked for two years before he left to work for himself full time.

Wangelin’s advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs is simple.

“Just do it,” he said. “Starting a business in your 20s is hard, but it’s often less of a financial and personal risk if you start early. You’re not necessarily supporting a family yet; you’re only responsible for yourself, which makes it the perfect time to take the risk.”

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