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Gold Medallion

2016 Tod Spieker (USA)


He began swimming competitively at the age of eight, at the Palo Alto Swim Club in California. It was not until four years later, at the age of 12, swimming for coaches Al and Della Sehorn, that he won his first race. Swimming for Bob Gaughran at Menlo Atherton High School, he became an All-American swimmer. He also swam for Nort Thornton at Foothill Aquatic Club. Both Gaughran and Thornton remember Tod as, “the hardest working kid on the team.” He went on to attend UCLA on a swimming scholarship and became an NCAA All-American backstroker. His coach, Bob Horn, remembers him as “dedicated and tough.”


It was in these formative years that Richard “Tod” Spieker learned, as a swimmer, that hard work and consistency paid off - and it was a lesson that has led him to excel not only in swimming, but in business and in life.


Tod started planning for his post athletic career before he graduated from UCLA. His major was geography and while a senior, still taking classes at UCLA, he signed up for extra courses in real estate at nearby Santa Monica College. His interest in real estate had been fueled years earlier when he would tag along with his mom to open houses. While she was curious about what other houses in the neighborhood were like, Tod became interested in why a home was selling and what it was selling for.


Tod graduated from UCLA with his degree in 1971, earned his real-estate broker’s license the following year and began his first full-time job as a land scout, searching for suitable locations for a big apartment developer. It was where he first learned the guts of the apartment business: building costs, financing, locations and rent-to-value ratios.


Then came the crash of 1974 and he was laid off. Tod landed on his feet working as a broker for Coldwell Banker, selling apartments in Silicon Valley and the East Bay. It was from this experience that he learned what investors were thinking about, what they looking for and what their needs were. By 1981, Tod had almost ten years of experience under his belt and was ready to strike out on his own. He formed Spieker Companies and he bought his first apartment building, a 34 unit rental property in Campbell, California. Today the Palo Alto based, wholly owned and privately held company is an investment and property management engine that has an inventory of almost 4,000 rental units, mostly in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, with over 200 employees.


It was while working for Coldwell Banker that Tod discovered Masters Swimming. Entering his first adult age group meet in 1977, he burned his way through the FINA Masters world record books for the next quarter of a century and swam his way into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame in 2005.


Although he has since stopped competing, he still begins each morning with a swim before heading to the office. He attributes his years in swimming for providing him the lessons and tools that have made him successful in real estate, as a father, husband and now a grandfather. It has also endowed him with the desire to give back. Over the years he has actively and generously supported a variety of aquatic projects and organizations, including the Spieker Aquatic Center on the campus of UCLA, USA Masters Swimming and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He also serves on a number of Boards, including the Ziman Center for Real Estate and the UCLA Foundation.

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