Throughout David Welker’s life, he’s been open to different possibilities and has frequently ventured off course to explore new opportunities.

After living in multiple cities during his youth, Welker craved new challenges and experiences, visiting different countries, serving in the military and crafting drinks at Ivywild.

He now works in commercial real estate for Hoff & Leigh and said the job has been a natural transition after becoming connected in the community and interested in the city’s potential and its latest developments.

Welker said he sells real estate downtown and in urban renewal areas because it’s where he spends most of his time.

“The amount of new restaurants and housing being developed downtown will be shocking by this time next year,” he said. “It’s going to feel like it happened overnight and change the energy downtown. A lot of people are predicting a boom for Colorado Springs and I don’t think that optimism is unfounded. There are a lot of properties moving forward that have been stagnant for years.”

Welker sat down with the Business Journal to discuss his life experiences and his goals.

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Where are you from?

I grew up in Dallas, Chicago and Toronto.

I was born in Ohio and then moved to Chicago, where my family lived for 10 years and [then we] lived in Toronto for two and a half. My dad worked for a corporation that moved us around.

By seventh grade, we settled in Dallas and I graduated high school there.

I wasn’t crazy about Dallas as a city and was eager to get out, so I took a scholarship to study in Argentina for a year between high school and college.

When I returned, I attended Baylor University to study history and philosophy. During my junior year, I got antsy and enlisted in the Army around 2007-2008, during the height of the Iraq War and right before the surge in Afghanistan.

What drew you to the military?

It was something that had always appealed to me. I didn’t have any immediate family in the military and didn’t reach out to anyone to hear what it was like. I just enlisted in infantry and went through basic training.

About a week before graduation I received new orders that said: duty station, Afghanistan.

We were getting ready to deploy, so when I arrived at Fort Carson, they said, ‘Don’t unpack your bags, we’re getting ready to leave.’ It was a nerve-wracking experience because during basic they told us when we arrived at our unit, we would be trained up and here we were being immediately deployed, not knowing if we were prepared.

Throughout my five years in the military, I deployed twice to Afghanistan and joined a sniper unit that ended up being my most valuable experience in the Army.

What did you do next?

I returned to Colorado Springs in December 2012 and was in transition. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. A factor that kept me here was an eight-month yoga apprenticeship that I’d wanted to do when I was in the Army but couldn’t because of my schedule. I did the apprenticeship and finished up my bachelor’s degree [in environmental studies with a focus on sustainability and urban design] at UCCS, using the GI Bill. I ended up at Ivywild, working as a bartender at the Principal’s Office. It was a valuable job for me because being at Fort Carson, I had minimal connections to other communities in Colorado Springs. Working there exposed me to an exciting population of people who are really interested in supporting growth in our city.

How did you get in the real estate business?

I met Chris Myers who is a broker at Hoff & Leigh. He sort of recruited me from behind the bar at the Principal’s Office. During my last semester at UCCS, I interned at Hoff & Leigh, and as soon I graduated got my license and came on board.

What are your responsibilities?

I list, lease and sell commercial buildings; I do landlord and tenant rent, and focus on the downtown and urban renewal areas. I work with a lot of restaurants, breweries and retail-oriented businesses. My first big listing was the Lincoln Center.

What are your biggest challenges?

I think the first year for any broker is challenging. You have to do the daily work that builds the foundation for future success. There is some financial insecurity, anxiety working on commission without outside support. I’ve sought out mentors in the industry to meet with regularly and get advice and [find out] what has worked for them. There really are some tried-and-true ways to develop a career in commercial real estate. There is a discipline to the work.

What is your next goal?

Vacancy rates are pretty much staying the same downtown. One of my goals is to promote downtown as an attractive place to work and live to the people who aren’t already down here.

How can the city retain more young professionals?

Creating exciting nightlife and entertainment opportunities, and a vibrant downtown.

There are a lot of new apartments going in downtown, close to 600 over this next year, and I think that’s going to be huge in terms of how it affects the downtown environment.

People will be walking more places, and there will be more vitality. A lot of parking lots are going to be converted into other uses and I think that is really promising in terms of the direction of downtown, creating healthy, sustainable growth.

What was the last book you read?

‘The Road to Character’ by David Brooks.

Brooks highlights people who have done great things but sought a road to accomplishing those things through eulogy virtues, related to moral development and character, and those strengths being a guiding force.

Being involved in commercial real estate, it’s about producing and volume, but I also think there’s an important aspect to the relationships you have with your clients. I think it’s important to look out for their best interests and a part of that needs to come from a place of really caring about them. I think if you’re just looking at your profits, you’re going about business in the wrong way.