Blog: Travis Millward

Travis is the founder of Patriot Properties Group. He and his company are currently focusing on curing the vacant house epidemic that is plaguing Detroit’s neighborhoods by strategically purchasing vacant houses in concentrated neighborhoods and rehabilitating them. 

Travis was born and raised in Southern California. He attended Brigham Young University-Idaho and graduated from the University of Idaho with a Bachelors degree. There he studied business and real estate. Travis recently moved to Detroit August of 2008 from Saint George, Utah. His wife and two young boys accompanied him. 

Travis is currently an active member of Fusion, launched by the Detroit Regional Chamber - a group dedicated to enriching the community and developing young professionals into future leaders. Travis is also an active member of Motor City Connect a business networking engine of Detroit professionals that can meet, understand and connect on a business and personal level. 

He will be writing about Detroit’s vacant foreclosure epidemic, entrepreneurship in a down economy, Detroit’s real estate investing market and observations of Detroit from the eyes of an outsider.

Travis Millward - Most Recent Posts:

Travis Millward - Post 5: The Detroit Lions, GM, Ford & Chrysler – What do they all have in common?


I have been thinking quite a bit lately about teams & organizations. What makes them click? What makes them tick? What makes teams more successful than others? Why are their teams that make winning look so easy?

On the surface it will appear I am talking about sports teams, but deep down I am discussing more than just that. I want to dig down to the fundamentals of not only teams but businesses and organizations and what does it take exactly for X amount of people to be able to cooperate, communicate and coexist with one another...putting the team first and the individual second? Let’s get to it! 
I watch football occasionally, so I am not going to claim that I am a fan by any means, but the Detroit Lions suck right now. Its humiliating...I bet a college football team could beat them. So, wherein lies the issue? Is it a lack of talent? Did firing Matt Millen, the team president cause any drastic changes? Are they calling the wrong plays? What will it take for the Detroit Lions to win a super bowl or to win a single game!? Should they just quit playing for the rest of the season? Why should they even keep trying? Are they learning anything from this terrible season? 
I read a great article about one month ago in
Men’s Journal titled, Brotherhood of the Offensive Lineman of the New York Giants, the reigning super bowl champions-take a look. (I bolded what really stood out to me. )
No other unit in any sport must function as symbiotically as an offensive line. Baseball infielders work in sync, but only sporadically. Basketball players are all over the place. Soccer players too. Rowers work together, but their mission is too simple to count. Defensive linemen — usually a threesome or a quartet — run coordinated stunts, but basically they’re lone assassins. The offensive line, however, fanning out from the center, who is always drawn on blackboards as a circle with an “x” through it while the others are simply circles, must correctly choose their targets, hold their blocks simultaneously and in cohesion, and remain engaged to the end, or else the dam is breached, the wall torn asunder. And they do it in near obscurity. 
"Playing O-line you have to
take your ego, put it in your back pocket, and zip it up," says Jim Covert, the former Pro Bowl left tackle for the Chicago Bears during their Walter Payton/Jim McMahon heyday. "When you win, you had nothing to do with it. Lose, it’s all your fault. You play against first- and second-down defensive linemen, third-down rushers, specialists coming in and out — 70 or so plays, and if you’re successful 68 times, with two plays being a sack and a tackle-for-loss, you failed." 
It takes
a tight line to be effective. And it’s hard to find a tighter group than these Giants. Seubert has described them as operating like five fingers of the same hand (making sure to point out that O’Hara is the middle finger). They’ve been together for four years, an eternity in pro football. They eat together at team dinners, barbecue together, and last spring they were at Seubert’s Celebrity Trap Shoot charity event together in Wisconsin. Fifteen-hundred-plus pounds of meat and loaded weapons?
durability is a big part of their success. Snee has started 48 straight regular-season games. McKenzie and Seubert started every game last year, including the four play-off games. O’Hara missed only the wild-card game at Tampa Bay with a knee injury. Diehl has started every game (86) the Giants have played since he was drafted out of the University of Illinois in 2003. And, of course, they all played like seasoned vets in the Giants’ 17-14 Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 
"They’re such a
close-knit group of guys in the first place," Manning says. "Then to have the same five guys for four years? That’s rare."
They spend so much time with one another that, as O’Hara puts it, "by the end of the season, we’re finishing each other’s sentences."
"It’s like ESP," says McKenzie. "It gets to be scary at times."
Which leads to the most transcendent of athletic quests:
performing hard things in cohesion without even speaking, the ephemeral realm where the whole becomes far greater than the sum of its parts. It is an offensive lineman’s vision of perfection. "You’ll be on the road where it’s loud and hostile, and all five guys are on the same page, and you play nonverbally," says Diehl. "To not even talk? To go off of looks? Unless you’re an offensive lineman, you don’t know."
Isn't that an incredible article? This just about sums it up for me. The individuals of the team really need to ditch the ego and do what is best for the team always. 
Now the big question at the Detroit Lions deserve a bailout just as GM, Chrysler & Ford are begging? Do the Lions need a financial bailout or an attitude bailout? Don't mind the details on what type of bailout it will be...but what will they learn from a bailout and how will they grow from it?

My point is this, they aren't going to learn a darn thing. If the Feds bailout the Big Three, what are we teaching the Big Three and what are we teaching the American people? I understand that the Big 3 are claiming that by not bailing them out the economy will be effected even worse-I get it. And yes I don't want more people to lose their jobs...but what the economy of the United States is experiencing is much more than just a temporary cold. Being injected with millions of dollars won't solve the problem. 
The problem lies within the people of the organization. If we bailout the Big 3 are they even going to change their business model? Times like these cause people to change, grow and adapt. And after the bailout are people going to all of the sudden start buying cars? I don't think so. 
What separates the good from the great are people who can take ownership of their failure, digest it, learn from it and become more successful for experiencing that failure. I don't know how much the Detroit Lions are being paid to lose this season. But in the world in which I play business...if I lose I don't make any money, I actually lose money for failing. Risk vs. Reward. This is what the American people are all about, when you trip and fall, you get back up, don't you ever quit-that is what everybody else does. How many of the Detroit Lions team players have quit? How many of them have walked, threw in the towel and said, "I'm done playing football"? 
Achieving success can be hard. But guess what, you can do hard things. Never give up!

Travis Millward - Post 4: If we fix it, they will come…

I would like to elaborate on Post #1 and its comments and turn it into an open discussion. What I want to know is; what are the top 4 things that need to be fixed in order to make the city of Detroit (everything south of 8 mile) a healthy, desirable place to live again? 
  1. Vacant houses
  2. Employers
  3. Public school system
  4. Public transportation
The way I see it…vacant houses are the root of the problem. Just imagine if there were no vacant houses in the entire city of Detroit. Crime & drug activity would be significantly less and no blight! What a beautiful place to live. 

For example, let’s say we have $5 million to invest. With that amount of money we could purchase and rehabilitate 175 residential single-family houses. Let’s assume there are 5,000 vacant houses sitting on the market right now. So we would be fixing 3.5% of the current inventory. Would this make a difference? Could we stabilize concentrated neighborhoods and make them safe again? 

What if these 175 houses were completely rehabilitated tomorrow and ready to move in, would there be a waiting list of people to move in? Would they prefer to rent or purchase? 

By rehabilitating vacant homes and occupying them with families, blight is eliminated, crime is drastically reduced and now we have safe, clean neighborhoods. 

Where could we get the $5 million for this project? Let’s face it, there is a lot being done right now to rescue Detroit but I have not heard anywhere, of anyone wanting to address the vacant house epidemic in an organized collaborative effort. The population is at an all time low but it is ever-increasing thanks to groups like Open City, which are encouraging businesses and people to come to Detroit. The need for safe clean neighborhoods is increasing!

The motto that I want all of us to adopt is, "If we fix it, they will come." 

That type of money will come from various private investors located here in South East Michigan. These private investors could be business owners, professional athletes or perhaps angel investors. He or she will have an affinity for Detroit and they will want to have a positive impact on Detroit’s housing dilemma and the cities future. Not only will it be a sound financial investment but a very profound investment in taking that next step that Detroit needs so desperately. 

An incredible author Marianne Williamson
once wrote, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

That great power of which Williamson wrote is within all of us and I urge you to get involved, however you are able. I’m calling you to action.  

Fellow Detroit advocates – all cities have experienced times of defeat. It is times like these, when people like us, who care and actually want to have an impact in this great and abundant world; come together. We have identified the problem…let’s stop talking about it and start fixing the issue at hand. It’s needed. 

The Detroit as our forefathers knew it, has been a figurative "Field of Dreams" where for many, those dreams have come to fruition and with collaborative effort coupled with determination – will soon be a place where many more dreams can again be fulfilled. 

Please email me to get involved.

Travis Millward - Post 3: Entrepreneurs, burn your ships!

"Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up."
-Alfred Pennyworth, Batman Begins

For those of you who did not have the opportunity to attend E2Detroit missed some really good stuff. But don’t fret I will hook you up with some of the gold nuggets that I came away with. One of the opening speakers was Mary Ellen Sheets, President & CEO of Two Men And A Truck International

Mary is one of those people who seem very modest yet persistent. Modest because like most entrepreneurs we don’t know half of the things we should be doing when we start out on our new venture. Persistent, because the growth and success of this little idea of hers is absolutely incredible – it inspires me to keep going with my own personal venture. 

Her story was very funny and I enjoyed all of the pictures she shared. My favorite joke is when she said, "I always tell people that my husband went to the grocery store and never came back. He left me for a loaf of bread. And that loaf of bread was 23 years old."

After her husband left – she was forced to create a way to produce an income for her family of 2 boys and a girl. Isn’t this how it always works? It’s not until something terrible happens that forces us to think outside of the box. And due to the circumstances we have no choice but to move forward committed to our venture. Those who don’t commit are those who become unsuccessful. 

As the wise Napoleon Hill, author of Think And Grow Rich once wrote – "allow yourself no retreat".

It reads:

"A long while ago, a great warrior faced a situation in which he had to make a decision that ensured his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe whose men outnumbered his. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the enemy’s country, and unloaded the soldiers and equipment. Then he gave the order to burn the ships that had carried them. Addressing his men before the first battle, he said, 'You see the boats going up in smoke. That means we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win! We now have no choice – we win or we perish!' They won."

As a fellow entrepreneur I beg of you to burn your ships, commit and never look back. It is this very principle of sheer determination and fortitude that ensures success.

As I sat there listening to Mary Ellen Sheet’s story of Two men and a truck, I was so inspired. Each and everyone of us experiences times of difficulty and tribulation – it’s how we choose to respond to these experiences that separates the good from the great.

Travis Millward - Post 2: Observations of Detroit from a relocated out-of-stater

I will have to admit that moving to Detroit from Southern Utah has definitely been a change. But I wanted to take the time to share with you what I have observed.

If you look up the word 'flat' in my dictionary the definition is Detroit. To me, Detroit is the epitome of flat. I’m used to mountains or at least some hills for that matter, but there is none of that here.

Detroit’s rain and thunder storms are very intense and entertaining.

The trees here are incredibly large and very green. Out west developments are so new that at times there is no vegetation whatsoever. Detroit, being one of the oldest cities in America, has been blessed with an incredible forest of trees.

The black squirrel – I have never heard of, let alone witnessed a black squirrel before until I moved to Detroit. And fireflies are by far the coolest thing I have experienced here – well almost. 

I love Detroit real estate, the houses, buildings & skyscrapers. There is so much character and history engrained in every brick of Detroit. Speaking of which – brick…I have never seen so many cool brick houses. The Guardian building is by far my favorite. I was told it is the highest brick building in the country, perhaps the world?

Boston Edison, what an incredible historic district. I can’t even imagine all of the incredible minds that walked the floors of those homes in Boston Edison.

I really enjoy the fact that corporate chains are not that abundant here. I love that there so many original, small mom & pop restaurants to dine at.

The riverfront is very cool.

The 'Michigan left', on the other hand, is by far the most bizarre piece of engineering I have ever experienced – I still don’t get it. And why can’t you turn right on red? 

Onto the people… this may surprise you, but I have been so warmly welcomed here by Detroiters that I am more than impressed. For some reason the people of Detroit take the time to engage in conversation and be real with you. This is something that I will always enjoy and relish as I live in Detroit. My neighbors are very friendly. My favorite observation is how people pronounce their vowels here…like house – it’s very amusing to me. 

Something that I have never heard of is cider and donuts. My family and I are so excited to go to our first Cider Mill ever and participate in the highly recommended Detroit tradition – apple cider and donuts.

After moving here I have been inspired to get back into an old hobby of mine, photography. I feel moved and touched by some of the incredible images Detroit has to offer. 

Lastly, I wanted to thank you Detroit for such a warm welcome. I look forward to enjoying what the rest of Detroit has to offer and giving back in every way possible to continue to make Detroit a better place. There is so much going for Detroit – let’s keep it that way.

Travis Millward - Post 1: Is Detroit facing a vacant house epidemic?

I have been living in Detroit for 2 months now. And I have been asked many, many times "Why on earth did you move to Detroit?" I grew up out West, so for my family and I to move 2,000 miles across the country to live in Detroit is definitely out of the ordinary and, to many, simply bizarre.  My friends and family for the most part have no clue what Detroit is like and what it is all about (more on this in my next blog). They are only aware of the little negative media that is published.

My primary purpose for moving to Detroit was business related. To be totally honest, I see Detroit as the land of opportunity – especially when it comes to real estate! The economy right now is absolutely crazy but certain things have taken place within the real estate industry that have caused some unfortunate results. We hear about it everyday from banks failing, record high foreclosures and now the Bailout Plan. Often I ask myself… "What is happening to our economy?" 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to read about Dan Gilbert's own personal bailout plan that he is suggesting on his blog. It sounded great and made sense. Yet, the focus of that plan was on stopping or minimizing future foreclosures, because apparently we are nowhere near the end of this epidemic.

I beg the question, "What has the relentless number of foreclosures caused for the neighborhoods of Detroit?"

Vacancy! Yes, it is important to stop or attempt to reduce future foreclosures, but we need to address the issue at hand. And that is Detroit’s neighborhoods are turning into ghost towns! There are over 5,000 vacant bank-owned houses on the market for sale. Most of these will remain on the market for over a year. And guess what? Banks do not take the time, the money or the resources to properly secure these properties. The result is a sea of blight! Detroit’s housing stock is rotting from the inside out. 

I found this great organization called National Vacant Properties Campaign
. This website is an incredible resource of information on bringing awareness of the vacant house epidemic. Not only are vacant foreclosures springing up in Detroit exponentially but all over the country – in every major city, in a very scary way. If we don’t begin taking action now on revitalizing these vacant houses in Detroit I do not want to imagine what will possibly occur with the rest of Detroit’s neighborhoods. It’s already happening and we need to join forces and fight back.