Rich Vaaler

My Story

Some people have a view that they have a “business life” and a “personal life”.  I have always believed I have one life and the business and personal are intertwined.
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My business and professional life started when I graduated from ODU in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Real Estate Finance.  My first real job was with a regional developer working as an in-house leasing agent.  After a few years I moved to a brokerage position in Los Angeles and then back to Virginia Beach.  That was a challenging time for me professionally and personally.  When my daughter Mollie was born I needed to get a “real job”.

Turner Construction offered me a great job in Fairfax Virginia with their subsidiary Turner-Harwood Ventures.  I worked there as a development manager for a few years and then moved to a company called Union General doing about the same thing plus leasing retail centers we developed.


In 1988 at the age of 30 I started Vaaler Real Estate Company with my Dad.  The first few years were rocky and when my son Niels was born I needed to get a “real job” again.  For two years I worked at the headquarters of NAIOP as the marketing manager.  They sent me to a live Tony Robbins event as part of my training and the rest is history!

I came home from that all day seminar and decided I was never working for anyone else again!


In the 1990’s – 2006 Vaaler Real Estate Company grew and diversified. We had 3 main divisions in the company – commercial sales/leasing, property management and residential sales. During this time, I got my private pilot’s license and bought a Cessna 172 airplane.


By 2006 we were making approximately $3 million in revenue per year and Sperry Van Ness (now SVN) reached out to me to become one of their licensees.  I made the move and was a part of that great organization until 2013 when I decided to go back to my roots and changed the name of the business to Vaaler Commercial Real Estate.


In 2010, my life was a country song but that’s another story. Everything went sideways and my company downsized to only a few people. In 2010, I had formed a new company to run my real estate business with the new legal name of Phoenix Commercial Real Estate, Inc.  With offices in VA and FL my schedule was full, and business was back in swing.


In 2013 I got remarried, opened an office in Florida, and that’s when “Phoenix” really took off.


So now, I’m “RV” in Florida, working as a commercial broker at the best office in the Treasure Coast of Florida.  I serve on the board of directors of the Stuart Airshow, and also as a Trustee with the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce.

In January 2022, we sold our commercial building in VA and executed a 1031 tax deferred exchange into an apartment building in Jensen Beach, FL.  This is a manifestation of many years of hard work, discipline, and knowing what to look for in a “good deal”.

Rich Vaaler headshot

In my spare time,

I travel with my wife Gayle in our motorhome, relax on our boat at the local sandbar, and take flight in our airplane.  Our motto is work hard, play hard.  
And we do.  All in one life!
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