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Mitchell couple finds success in real estate developing, helping revive aging commercial properties

“We always wanted to work for ourselves and be our own bosses. We took some big risks to get into this, and we’re glad we did,” Justin said of he and wife, Janelle, who together run JTZ Properties and Allstor.

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Janelle Thiesse, left, and Justin Thiesse, stand in front of their storage unit and business suite development on the north side of Mitchell.
Sam Fosness / Republic
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Becoming a real estate developer wasn’t exactly part of Justin Thiesse’s career plans, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

After remodeling his first home and making decent profit off the sale over a decade ago, the Mitchell native became interested in diving into the world of real estate development.

Since then, he and his wife, Janelle Thiesse, have flipped a handful of commercial buildings, townhomes and built a mixture of business suites and storage units on the north side of Mitchell that’s helped revive the once bustling area of the city.

“We always wanted to work for ourselves and be our own bosses. We took some big risks to get into this, and we’re glad we did,” Justin said. He and wife together run JTZ Properties and Allstor. “When I started flipping some houses, my passion for developing grew. I knew it was what I wanted to do from then on.”

In 2015, the Thiesses took their first big leap into real estate development when the local couple bought a large apartment complex on the north end of Mitchell called Village Pointe Apartments. Justin was working in the telecommunications industry as a plant manager, while Janelle was working in marketing at Doug’s Custom Paint and Body.

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As they began flipping townhomes and commercial buildings like the Wheel Inn Business Plaza and Quail View Luxury Living, the Thiesses accumulated more wealth and assets to developed real estate properties throughout the Mitchell area.

The couple estimates they’ve invested over $20 million in flipping commercial properties and townhomes, along with building hundreds of storage units and a handful of business suites along North Ohlman and Commerce streets in what’s known as Commerce Park.

“People thought we were crazy at first for getting into all of this. Now, some of them will call and seek advice on developing,” Janelle said.

Renovating the former Campbell Supply building on North Main Street that’s had vacant spaces for nearly a decade is the Thiesses’ latest project. The couple and another local developer, Austen Iverson, have been giving the building a major face lift. People have taken notice of the improvements, as the building has attracted a couple new businesses and an autism helpline facility that Justin said plans to move in soon.

While the Thiesses have built a successful company over the past decade, it didn’t come without challenges. Finding a banker to take a risk on a budding developer without any capital was the biggest challenge, Justin said.

Now, local and area bankers are lining up to work with the Thiesses.

“It was very hard to find bankers at first. It’s hard to borrow money when you don’t have any,” he said.

Finding niches in real estate

Since purchasing 160 storage units in the Commerce Park development, the Thiesses have been developing the area at a rapid pace and transforming it into a niche business development.

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Over the past three years, the couple has built over 20 business suites in the Commerce Park development and 300 additional storage units at Allstor. The area has become a hot commodity among some local businesses.

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Shown here is the entrance to Commerce Park. A business plaza located in between Thunderbird Drive and Commerce Street where the Thiesses have been developing.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

From auto detailing shops to construction companies, the metal business suites in Commerce Park house a wide variety of businesses. All but a couple of the business suites are occupied with tenants.

With the price of building materials soaring, Justin said it’s becoming less attractive for some businesses to build a storefront. Instead, he said renting existing buildings that have the infrastructure in place has shown to be an ideal alternative.

“We’ve turned into a renter society. Certain types of businesses out here don’t always need a brick-and-mortar storefront. These suites aren’t flashy, but they are functional and affordable,” Justin said. “It’s not something you would want on Main Street, but there is a need for these elsewhere.”

The business suites at Commerce Park caught the eye of Spencer Maeschen, who moved his auto detailing business into one of the suites in February. The local detailer said the ability to customize the suites to fit the needs of his operation is what separates the building from others.

“The location I was in before wasn’t scale-able enough. These buildings will allow me to expand and grow and rent the units next to me. You can’t really find that anywhere else,” he said.

Inspiring future developers to spur growth

With plans to continue investing in local real estate, the couple is committed to spurring more growth in Mitchell. However, Janelle said Mitchell needs more young developers to kick start growth.

“We want to help mentor anyone willing to learn the process. Chuck Mauszycki Sr. was one of our biggest mentors in the real estate business, and we are always looking for ways to pass that knowledge down to get the next crop of developers going. We just want to see Mitchell succeed and grow,” Janelle said. “We’re proof that you can do it.”

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On June 23, Justin will have his biggest platform yet to share his real estate development knowledge with the community at the Mitchell Area Community Theatre. Justin is one of three featured speakers who will take part in the June 23 Leadership Inspiration Training seminar hosted by Jordan Hanson – a young local developer who Justin helped inspire nearly a decade ago.

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Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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