TOP GUNS

Daniel Vance

Connect Business Magazine

Date: March 2014

Mankato-based, high-flying Tailwind Group has become a fully integrated property development, leasing, and management firm.

Loquacious and mentally quick Kyle Smith is only 34 and at such a young age already co-owns the in-progress seven-story Profinium Place in Downtown Mankato, a 60-unit student housing apartment complex in Rochester, retail projects in Owatonna, two General Nutrition Centers, 65-house RentMSU, 114-bed College Town, The Lofts@1633, the College Station apartments, four retail centers in Mankato and North Mankato, two Waseca group homes, and other projects. Along with his sister, he used to co-own 20 Anytime Fitness franchises and eight additional General Nutrition Centers.

He built all this while employed as a corporate airplane pilot. In 2001, at age 22, after 9-11 caused a downturn in aviation, Smith initiated a chain of events leading to his involvement in all the above by buying, fixing up, and selling a Mankato rental property using only $2,500 down and his credit card. That started everything.

End of story.

Not quite.

This feature story can’t—and won’t—be just about Smith. He readily admits he would have accomplished but a fraction of the above without his parents, Uncle Mark Smith, sister Karmen, and fellow Tailwind Group partners Reggie Reed, Michael Sather, and brother Landon Smith.

In our Connect Business Magazine interview, from a stylish conference room at College Town in Mankato, Smith repeatedly said “we” rather than “I” when answering questions about business accomplishments.

Think of Kyle Smith as southern Minnesota’s business version of the Top Gun character played by Tom Cruise, Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell—a shoot-from-the-hip, spontaneous, go-by-his-gut, risk-taking, high-flying pilot. Smith plays that leading role as well as any business decision maker in our reading area. He flies fast. But without his squadron partners—“Goose” Reed, “Jester” Sather, and “Viper” Smith—covering his wing and mopping up after his sorties, Smith today by himself would own merely a flyspeck of Tailwind Group’s current real estate assets. Unlike the cocky movie character “Maverick,” Smith realizes every day his need for and dependence upon others.

To read the full story, click here.