KC Stock has left its mark on Southwest Florida, not just as a builder and developer, but as a man of principle and kindness.
Stock, 84, founder of Naples-based Stock Development, died on November 28.
He is remembered as a true entrepreneur and a strong but gentle man who loved business and life.
Voted “least likely to succeed” in high school, the Wisconsinite defied the odds.
Looked:KC Stock has never stopped trying to improve its communities
Previously:Collier County officials approve One Naples after surprise revisions
He succeeded — and more — through hard work, sheer determination, and old-fashioned courage.
Stock Development is just one of its many successes. But it was the success that stood out the most in Southwest Florida.
After spending years vacationing in the Naples area, KC and his son Brian started Stock Development in late 2001.
True to its name, the company began as a development company, with the purchase of 340 acres at Lely Resort, east of Naples, but the business quickly expanded into home building.
Over the years, the now diverse real estate company has continued to evolve and adapt, surviving more than one recession – and other setbacks.
Throughout this time, KC and Brian have worked side by side, making decisions together, with input from their trusted leadership team.
“It was their business together. KC was involved in every decision, every action,” said Claudine Leger-Wetzel, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing.
KC viewed its employees as the key to its success, treating them with respect and kindness. One of his favorite sayings: “You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with.”
“It’s something he lived and breathed,” Leger-Wetzel said.
A few weeks ago, he flew to Naples from Wisconsin to attend an employee’s wedding.
“It’s just who he was,” Leger-Wetzel said.
Father and son had a ‘once in a lifetime relationship’
KC was president of Stock Development – and mentor to Brian, who is the CEO.
“There was probably nothing that Brian hadn’t run through his dad. They always talked about everything,” said Matt Sellick, president of the company’s homebuilding division.
“It was truly a beautiful once-in-a-lifetime relationship,” she said.
Together, they not only succeeded, but gave back in a big way.
KC has strived to make a difference in people’s lives. In 1991 he founded the KC Stock Foundation to do just that. Over the years, the foundation has distributed millions to various charitable causes, mostly in Wisconsin, but some of the money has flowed to southwest Florida.
Notably, in Wisconsin, his foundation made the lead donation to start a children’s hospital at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Green Bay, so most families in the state’s northeast don’t have to. the long drive to Milwaukee for treatment.
Stock Development itself has made significant community investments and donations.
Recently, the company donated $2.5 million to Florida Gulf Coast University’s Department of Construction Management to support its growth. The department was renamed in honor of the company.
Despite all his successes, KC remained humble and grateful.
“Our hearts are broken here. Because he was just a legacy that we
are just going to hold out every day,” Leger-Wetzel said.
Sellick echoed those thoughts.
“They just don’t make them like that anymore,” he said of KC and his family.
Hired right out of college, Sellick said he will stay with Stock Development as long as they have him, until the day he retires.
“The main thing is family. That’s what family always comes down to,” he said.
“And their core values,” added Leger-Wetzel, who joined the company more than 20 years ago.
One of Sellick’s earliest memories of KC is seeing him pull up to a construction site in a modest Sebring convertible. It wasn’t about showing off his wealth.
“That’s not what mattered to him,” he said.
Stock Development has reshaped Southwest Florida
Since its founding, Stock Development has built over 6,000 single family homes in Florida, Wyoming and Montana. Most of these homes are in Southwest Florida.
In Florida, the company has completed approximately 1,200 apartments, with hundreds more under construction and another rental complex under development.
Recently, the builder announced that its first-ever high-rise project, One Naples, overlooking Vanderbilt Beach in North Naples, would be an exclusive Ritz-Carlton residential development.
The ultra-luxury community has been renamed Ritz-Carlton Residences, Naples. It will include 128 residences on six acres in a pair of 12-story buildings. Construction and sale are in progress.
Stock Development has also built commercial projects, from retail stores to offices.
After buying out the original developers, KC and Brian built two golf courses in southwest Florida, Grandezza in Estero and Olde Cypress in Naples, as well as homes.
At only 19 years old, KC built his first house.
Over the years, he has owned, built, expanded and sold numerous businesses including Stock Lumber, his first shipyard, and Cruisers Yachts, a boat building company, both located in Wisconsin.
After buying the lumber business from his father in 1971, KC turned it into a multi-state building supplies company. He then sold it for around $100 million.
True to its roots, KC purchased Oconto-based cruisers to avoid a 1993 closure.
“He bought this company because it employed everyone in his hometown,” Sellick said. “He was going bankrupt and he didn’t want everyone losing their jobs in his hometown.”
At one time, Cruisers had as many as 750 employees.
When it sold Stock Lumber and Cruisers, KC shared a portion of its profits with employees, based on their years of service.
He founded Stock Development after the sale of Stock Lumber.
Brian remained with Stock Lumber after it was sold, but the new owners wanted him to take on a higher level position, requiring him to relocate and travel more overseas, which he did not find appealing. said Leger-Wetzel.
So KC offered his son a better option, to go into real estate together, in a place they both loved.
KC Stock always busy
In an interview with a local reporter in 1999, after winning the Rotary Club of Green Bay’s Free Enterprise Award, KC shared that his sister told him “you gotta smell the roses.” But that wasn’t his style.
“I just like to be busy. I like a challenge. I like working and being with people. I like learning other things,” Stock said all those years ago.
For a while, keeping busy consisted of serving on the board of directors of the Green Bay Packers.
During his lifetime, KC also owned eight farms, which kept him busy as well.
He enjoyed the cattle trade. In 2020 he purchased what is now known as the Stock Ranch with Brian in Bozeman, Montana so he could take over the Black Angus beef business.
Last year, KC sold Cruisers Yachts after owning it for nearly 30 years, to MarineMax, based in Clearwater, Florida.
In a press release, Mark Pedersen, President of Cruisers Yachts, said, “The single statement that best describes KC is their love and commitment to employees.”
“Every time he visited, he would first ask how many team members were working and then walk on the floor to visit them,” he said.
KC – short for Kenneth Charles – was married to his wife Georgia for 54 years, whom he met while owning and operating a pallet business.
“She was the love of his life,” Leger-Wetzel said.
They had four boys. Brian is the youngest.
KC will be greatly missed by his family and friends, as well as the many others who crossed his path in Southwest Florida and up north.
Victoria Bostedt, a former mayor of Oconto, said he never forgot his roots and remained friendly and outgoing, despite the heights he had reached.
She described it as one in a trillion, which cannot be replaced.
“He just can never be forgotten. Never,” she said.
The funeral was held Monday in Green Bay.
Richard Ryman and Christopher Clough of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, part of the USA Today Network, contributed to this story.
#Stock #Stock #Development #Naples #passed