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Paul thrift 3

Indianapolis, IN

Indiana Chamber of Commerce

September 20, 2023 (INDIANAPOLIS) — Real estate developer Paul Thrift has an inspiring story: A teenage entrepreneur who co-founded Thompson Thrift, a firm that today is literally changing the landscape of communities all across the country. In recognition, Thrift has been named the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 Ogletree Deakins Business Leader of the Year.

A soft spoken and faith-led CEO, Thrift is the epitome of a servant leader. But don’t let his “mild manner” fool you, says Indiana Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar. “He is laser focused on continued learning to keep his company and its employees on an upward trajectory. No one knows the real estate and development market better than Paul Thrift.”

Since the company started in 1986, Thompson Thrift has grown to more than 600 team members. It occupies several floors in the Salesforce Tower in downtown Indianapolis, is a leading employer in Terre Haute – where the business began – and has offices in Denver, Houston and Phoenix.

The firm boasts $4.9 billion in development of residential and commercial property in 21 states.

Two of the newest Thompson Thrift properties are local – in Fishers. Slate at Fishers District is a build-for-rent multifamily community featuring 242 units. Also in that immediate area, the company is developing the Fishers Event Center, future home to the Indy Fuel minor league hockey team, and working to develop The Union. When finished, The Union will be a vertically mixed use development that will include retail, restaurant, luxury apartment homes, a hotel and class A office space. The Union will be adjacent to the Fishers District also developed by Thompson Thrift.

Thrift points to transformational projects that have taken place in downtown Terre Haute: two hotels, the Children’s Museum, the federal building and along a major street at 500, 901 (location of the Thompson Thrift office) and 925 Wabash Avenue.

“That collection of projects is really a point of pride. I think it’s made a positive and permanent impact on downtown Terre Haute,” he offers.

Thrift – the son of a minister – and his business partner, John Thompson, were high school friends growing up in Terre Haute. They purchased a repossessed home together as teenagers for $3,000, fixed it up and sold it for a profit. A few years after that first flip in 1986, Thrift and Thompson recognized bigger potential.

“We saw an opportunity and a need for purpose-built student housing around the campus at Indiana State University while we were attending school there,” Thrift explains. “There was really no quality newer housing that was constructed off-campus. We saw that opportunity in 1991 and started to build … that really was a transitional project for us."
"It’s been a long journey now – 37 years since that first house we purchased,” he continues. “It’s been quite a ride and a lot of fun. Our story is one of providence. We have been extremely blessed.”

Thompson says he couldn’t ask for a better business partner. Thrift oversees the development part of the company and Thompson the construction side.

“Paul prepares himself for every situation. He’s very well read and has an even temperament. He asks a lot of questions, is curious and genuinely enjoys people,” Thompson notes. “Like anyone who is driven, he has an edge – but is very steady handed. Our partnership has been a good blending of personalities. And we both check our ego at the door.”

The Ogletree Deakins Business Leader of the Year Award will be bestowed to Thrift at the Indiana Chamber’s 34th Annual Awards Dinner, presented by Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, November 14 at the Indiana Convention Center.

To read the full release, please visit the Indiana Chamber of Commerce website.

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