Amaury Perez, a native of Mexico, moved to the Los Angeles area before he turned 3 years old.
“I grew up in inner-city L.A., the 818 area, Van Nuys,” he said.
His family was displaced after the Northridge earthquake in 1994, then decided to move away from the city and set up in the suburbs of Palmdale, Calif.
Perez joined the Air Force at 17 as a tech controller, doing “crypto, IT, [satellite communications] — everything signal related,” he said.
His first assignment was at Schriever Air Force Base in 2002. After jumping around to fulfill his military obligations, he found himself again in Colorado Springs seven years later. Today, aside from his 9-to-5 gig, Perez dabbles in real estate. He’s the owner of The Ivywild Lodge, a long-term rental complex located off East Brookside Steet, south of downtown. He is also living at a second property off Cheyenne Road, which he purchased with plans to convert it into a second long-term rental facility.
The military vet spoke with the Business Journal this week about how his professional life shaped his business and what’s in store for the 34-year-old.
Were you interested in technical work before the military?
Growing up, I was a nerd before it was cool. My buddies and I would build computers and play video games. I started an IT club in high school.
Talk about your military assignments.
My first assignment was at Schriever Air Force Base. I lived at Peterson and commuted to Schriever. That was in 2002. … From about 2003 to 2005, I went to Korea. From Korea to [Las] Vegas, then a couple deployments in Iraq. I was in Iraq for about three years, was on active duty for six years and inactive for another four doing the [National] Guard bit. I got out for good in 2008. That feels like forever ago.
Did you enjoy the military?
It gave me the foundation necessary to move forward with things. I really appreciate it — especially being an inner-city minority and getting to see different spectrums of reality.
Why did you come back to the Springs?
I came back in 2009, once I was able to follow my own intuition and passion. I like to snowboard, love the trails and riding bikes. I want to run 100-miler [race] next year. That’s a goal.
I admire people who push to see how far they can go.
I also love history and Colorado Springs’ history. The Front Range is the Wild, Wild West. It’s nobody’s real home so it’s technically everybody’s home. I can appreciate that.
Talk about your work.
I have a career job with Serco North America. I started when I came back to the Springs as a virtualization engineer, supporting big government contracts. I was promoted into a business process role two years ago and now I’m a business process analyst.
I’ve been working with Serco since 2009 and I like it there. It’s challenging and they saw opportunity in me.
They’ve pushed me over to the business support side. It’s been awesome. I’ve been doing that two years and it’s allowed me to get my head out of the IT weeds.
Tell us about The Ivywild Lodge.
When I moved back here, I was living in the suburbs along Powers Boulevard and had a house. I realized life in the suburbs wasn’t for me. Coming from the city, I was pulled toward this. I sacrificed, sold the house and acquired this lodge. At first, I moved into the smallest unit so I could be here and do the fences, build a retaining wall and patio and finish all the other stuff around the property to make it look more homey.
In September, I acquired another multi-unit. I live at that property while I’m in the process of turning it into something like this. It’s a big challenge, but I live less than a mile from here.
Why do this?
While I was doing engineering for Serco, it was almost 100 percent travel. I was always on the road. … You get a little overwhelmed when you wake up somewhere and don’t know where the light switch is. … I wanted to build something for travelers that promotes the community and helps people transition like I’ve transitioned.
When I traveled for work, I would find places like this throughout the country and stay there rather than a hotel.
What was the Ivywild Lodge building previously?
It was built in the late 1800s and the design is called a Stick Victorian. Right before this, it was a single-family home and has gone through a lot of owners.
I spent a lot of time in the library researching owners. It’s also been a yarn business and they sold insurance here. In the [1980s] it was converted to multi-units. There are four here that are fully furnished.
What’s your business model?
We pretty much provide a home away from home for corporate individuals, professionals, military who are [in transition]. My system is out there for people to find me. I don’t really publicly broadcast that I’m here.
I also have an automated reservation system. … Because I have a day job, I need this to be able to run on its own. It’s fully automated in regards to the booking and reservation system. … We hit a small niche of travelers, but it’s growing.
How much do you charge?
We have a 30-day minimum at a rate of $1,399. When you divide that by 30, it’s really inexpensive — and I give a 10 percent discount to all military, even if you did it for a little while and you’re out.
Who are the majority of your clients?
Everything from traveling nurses to traveling engineers to traveling professionals. I think I’m up to 240 guests in the last four years. I’ve done all the check-ins, so it’s great to meet all these people.
At times it’s been tough; there were growing pains — from the community growing to transients. I had a knife pulled on me once. … As time’s gone on, this area’s gotten cleaner and nicer. We’ve been here so long and we’re letting the dust settle. We know it’s going to be a great place. It already is for us, but it’s only going to get better.
What’s your favorite part about owning the lodge?
For the people who come through, you have to almost be an ambassador. You have to know the restaurants and the new places to go. To be able to share that knowledge with guests — it gives them a really great experience of Colorado Springs. It’s really intimate.
What do you do for fun?
When I’m not working, I’m working out. … I ride bikes a lot. I’m a team rider for Bicycle Experience, the local bike shop. I do big mountain enduro, pretty much mountain biking. It’s a major hobby and helps me out mentally. It’s my church.