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A Man with a Plan

2017 University Award winner, Distinguished Service

“From the very beginning of my career, I've had kind of an unsettled feeling in my gut. And that was a great motivator for me,” says Tim Wright (BA ’83), co-founder and owner of Quick Quack Car Wash. For the first decade of his career, Wright was vexed by that feeling. Eventually, he discovered the cure for his unease: making a plan.

Despite not starting with a plan, that “unsettled” feeling didn’t keep Wright down. After graduating with a degree in international relations, Wright found himself with a wife, a baby, and no money. So he got some real estate training from his father-in-law, a professor at a junior college, and jumped into real estate appraisal with both feet. “When I first started,” says Wright, “the opportunities were simply tactical decisions to produce more than my peers and to earn my professional accreditation initials faster than the people around me. I knew the people around me were really smarter than me, but I felt like I could outwork them.” And he did, earning his credentials in record time and becoming the youngest partner at the Seattle firm PGP Valuation after only 18 months.But it wasn’t until he sat down to decide what was most important that Wright truly hit his stride. He says, “[I needed] to figure out what it was that I was missing, why I was feeling unsettled. It [was] 10 years into my career before that feeling subsided. And it came after I started really developing a life plan. A plan that took me beyond the moment so I understood which direction I was going.” He started an Excel spreadsheet spanning from his 30s to his 94th birthday. Wright added goals in all different categories, striving to develop personally and professionally at different stages of his life. Wright credits this plan in large part for the successes he has had. And though his degree may seem distinct from his career path, he also credits the things he learned at BYU with preparing him for the workforce. Wright shares, “I think what I learned at BYU is really critical thinking; just learning how to think better, and that played a big part in the direction I went.”

As part of his master plan, Wright decided to identify more of his unique talents. He realized that being a problem solver was a skill he had (and could develop) that would help him in real estate development and other areas of his life. Those problem solving skills have served Wright well, helping him to start and grow Crescendo Properties and Life Storage (which eventually sold for 1.3 billion dollars) and now Quick Quack Car Wash, a national chain. It has also helped him deal with personal challenges that have come his way. He says, “Real estate development is a series of sometimes complex problems. And all you have to do is solve one problem at a time. Life is a little bit like that. We've had serious health issues in our family. We had a son almost die as an 18-year-old, from cancer. We've had a son fighting in Baghdad, and that presented a whole new set of challenges and problems. So you have to have the energy and the patience and the stick-to-it-iveness to just take each problem as it comes and work towards solutions.”

Aside from business goals and family goals, Wright’s plan included his dream to be a member of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. It was 1983 when Wright said, “Someday when the time's right, I would like to sing in the Tabernacle Choir." Viewing it as a complex problem that could be solved, he laid out steps to get there, and worked to take those steps. “I reverse-engineered the dates,” Wright shares. He said to himself, "I know I have to leave the choir at age 60, and I want to be in for at least 10, so I need to audition, or be in the choir by age 50. And then I backed it up three years, because I knew you could audition three times. And then I backed it up another two years to prepare, and I had four coaches. I had two vocal coaches, a posture coach, and a music theory coach for two years, prepping me to get in the choir.” All the hard work paid off, and in 2007, 30 years after he decided he wanted to be in the choir, Wright achieved his goal. He is coming to the end of his time in the choir and has loved every part of the experience.

As he looks forward to the next stages of his plan, Wright remains humble. He is convinced that his successes are just a logical product of his passion. He is known for encouraging employees, coworkers, and friends in their own goals because of his belief in their power to help make good lives. He says, “I'm pretty ordinary guy, just trying to create something special. I love setting goals and achieving them.”

Full Name: Timothy E. Wright
Grad Year: BA 1983
College: Family, Home, and Social Sciences
Major: International Relations
Post date: May 29, 2019
Author: Mackenzie Sinclair Brady