Lance Warner, S.E.C.: Biography

History of the Warner Family:

lance warnerAlthough it was not a subject that the family would ever discuss, it is alleged that Lance’s paternal grandfather was a half-breed Seminole from Florida who grew up when such ancestry was a liability. He lived a very interesting life including wrestling alligators, riding in the Rough Riders, and working as a chef. He moved around a lot, and finally settled in the northern region of the US. Lance’s paternal grandmother was a petite English woman who married her 19-year-old husband when she was 14.

Lance’s mother, Maurine Buehl, was of German descent. Her parents were among the many Germans who immigrated to New York in the early 1900s. Lance’s mother was born and raised in Cleveland. She started her career modeling clothing for her father’s illustrations in magazines, and moved on to other catalogs for major retailers at the time.

Lance’s father, Don Warner, was of American Indian and English descent. Don went to college but his father was in a serious car wreck and he dropped out of school to help take care of him. In the mid 1930s, he started working in Sandusky, Ohio, at a very small aluminum and magnesium re-smelter, alternating between helping with production and going out on sales calls. The advent of World War II saw their sales and production skyrocket as both metals and their alloys became critical for the war effort. By the mid 50s, the company had grown to be the second largest in the United States.

Don and Maurine met in high school, casually dated over a half-dozen years, finally marrying and moving to Vermilion, a small fishing and farming village on Lake Erie midway between Cleveland and Sandusky.

Lance was born on February 28, 1942, in Lakewood, Ohio (a Cleveland suburb), primarily because this was the only hospital near his actual home town of Vermilion, Ohio. Vermilion is a small town about 35 miles east of Sandusky; Lance lived here until the age of 13 when his family moved to Sandusky. His parents liked Vermilion because it was located about halfway between his mother’s parents and his father’s office. Lance grew up surrounded by lagoons, marshes and woods and where he spent his early youth swimming, sailing and exploring.

Lance has two younger brothers. Stuart Warner is retired from the auto industry and is noted as a phenomenal model builder with multiple national awards. He restores antique fire engines and is an avid hiker and Kayaker. His kayak trips up to the northern coast and to Lake Erie are a couple of hundred miles each trip. Toby Warner has been a lifelong student. Toby lives in Thailand with his wife where they operate clothing factories for youth clothing in the Asian markets, as well as operating a couple of shopping centers in the area.

One interesting note about Lance’s youth would be the odd summer jobs. For example, one summer he and his brother worked at the Cedar Point Amusement Park as stunt men on a steam engine and stage coach reenactment ride. Lance would dress up as an Indian fully painted including a Mohawk. He would either ride on a horse or swing on a rope to board the ride. His brother “the policeman” would fight him off, eventually shoot him and Lance would fall off the side. Ironically, the only injury every sustained was from his horse backing up to check on him after a fall. These skills would actually prove to be quite useful in later military training and demonstrations.

Lance attended Sandusky High School where the football team was known as the Blue Streaks. They were crowned the state champions. According to Lance, due to his size and lack of speed, he spent more time as a blocking dummy, and did not see a strong future in the professional ranks. Upon graduation and with the help of a ROTC scholarship, he attended Wentworth Military Academy for 2 years. In addition to the military training activities, he played football, swam and took the part of a stunt man in a Civil War documentary film. He completed Wentworth with an associate degree in English and a minor in Physics. He received another ROTC scholarship to attend Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business with a major in Economics.

Lance found himself reporting to Fort Hood only nine days after graduation, and due to receiving extremely high scores in ROTC, he found himself on a fast track, training for Special Forces, which was in its infancy at the time. Along the way he went to Fort Benning, Georgia, for Airborne qualification and Ranger training. He was assigned to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, to help reconfigure a light infantry company into an airborne combat patrol and reconnaissance unit. Before deploying to his next assignment in Vietnam, he completed qualification training at the Army’s Jungle Warfare Training Center in Panama.

His first assignment in Vietnam was as Battalion Psychological Warfare Officer for the 25th Infantry Division, followed by an assignment as Assistant Intelligence Officer (also for the 25th Inf. Div.). His last assignment of that tour was as B company Commander, Ist of the 5th Infantry, a heavy mechanized infantry company tasked with probing operations in War Zone D. His next assignment was back to Fort Benning, Georgia, as a Ranger Instructor where he also participated as a member of the Ranger’s demonstration cadre, specializing in survival skills and snake handling. Next was another Vietnam tour, this time with several Special Operations Groups. In 1969, he returned to Fort Benning as an instructor.

After meeting Patricia Cates, a Vietnam War widow, and asking her to marry him, Lance submitted he request for release from active duty, but remained in a special reserve capacity until 1990.
In 1971, Lance moved back to Sandusky where he shortly worked for an automotive supplier, before taking a position as a Field Superintendent with an industrial construction company in 1970. He remained in the industrial construction field including a period with Ford Motor Company in charge of a warehouse automation conversion and another stretch with Imperial Electric of Akron, Ohio, to modernize two existing plants and construct a third plant. In 1982/83 he served as Sandusky’s first Economic Development Director. In 1984, he started his own construction company. After experiencing several ups and downs in the economy, he decided to transition to Commercial Real Estate, which he did over the three-year period between 1990 and 1993.

Lance has one daughter, Page Warner, who was born in 1973. Page is currently the Director of Special Education for the Willard School District. Through my conversations with Lance, I can tell that the pursuit of education runs high through this family. Page attended college at Hillsdale, Ohio State, and Bowling Green, and carries Dual Masters degrees in School Administration and Psychology. Her undergrad was in Psychology and Education. It comes as no surprise that Lance is extremely proud of her accomplishments and she carries many of the same characteristics found in her father.

Pat and Lance divorced amicably in 1979.

Outside Interest and Hobbies:

As most everyone is aware, Lance has no shortage of adventure. Starting at the age of 5 when most of us were learning how to ride a bike, he was given his first sailboat. He sailed a lot growing up and among his summer jobs during college, he worked as a charter boat skipper for families who wanted to vacation on the Great Lakes for 1 to 2 weeks.

He still enjoys hunting, hiking in the mountains, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. In Lance’s eyes, there’s nothing better than staying in a cabin in Colorado and taking 8- or 9-mile hikes through the mountains. To add to his pursuit of adventure, a little known fact is that Lance was actually a bull dogger in amateur rodeos in his younger years.

Lifetime Awards and Designations:

Lance carries a number of awards and designations. He has been past president of his local Rotary Club, local Junior Chamber of Commerce, and Ohio Commercial Realtors Exchange Association. He has been the past treasurer and secretary for NCE, S.E.C. Counselor of the Year; and recipient of the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Ohio Education Service Center Association.

Civic Interest and Contributions:

Lance is the chairman of the 2010 Charter Review for the City of Sandusky

Community Coordinator for NASA Plumbrook Station.

He serves on the Long Range Planning Committee for the Erie County Economic Development Corporation, on Sandusky’s Brown Field and Bay Front Corridor Committees and the Plum Brook Station Community Support Group’s Executive Committee.

Life Goals:

In typical Lance Warner tradition, and in the true essence of his character, he states that his life goals are measured by a quote from his grandfather: “You know you have done well, if at the end you gave more than you took.” I can’t think of a better way to describe his personality than these couple of lines. Lance is the kind of person who would do anything he could to help you, or to better a situation with his knowledge. He truly loves everything about the SEC and everyone within it.

Business Goals:

Specialties include Consulting, Exchanges, Due Diligence, and Site Selection. His main focus is keeping the SEC healthy and to increase the education through support and marketing to get the knowledge and training into individual communities.

Philosophy on Real Estate:

“Finding the means to an end through income, beauty and pride, play, or out of habit.” The only way to truly identify his philosophy is through his individual counseling of each client and their wants and needs. Each person is looking for something different, and this again quantifies perfection of counseling, which has been learned, perfected, and applied over time.

Strengths and Weaknesses:

We all have weaknesses, and for the most part, it seems that most of our weakness involves the need for more time to get things done. Through conversations with Lance, I have found that he is one of the rare examples that go against that grain. Time is his strength. One of his strong specialties is that of due diligence. He has the ability to work through site selection and due diligence on a transaction when most would give up. He identifies his strength in this area as “attention to detail” and the “tenacity to pursue the minutia.” Lance believes strongly that you can follow something small and inadvertently trip across something big. He has found this to be true in several scenarios, but many of his larger transactions have surfaced through his persistence of something very small.

Most Significant Event in Life:

As easily identified through his character and to no surprise, the most significant event in his life is the birth of Page. The pride and involvement he has had with her growing up and the skills and characteristics he has instilled in her through her studies, and pursuit of helping others, is evident and most certainly justifies his life goals of giving more than you take.

Most significant Moment in Real Estate:

The invite and participation in his first S.E.C. meeting. Lance received an invite from Ted Blank through an NCE meeting they had attended. He felt at the time he was just a small guy and it had to be over his head. He was continually approached by Ted Blank, and followed by Jim Brondino and Harry Kennerk. He finally decided to give it a shot. He was immediately hooked. Lance states that he noticed immediately the unselfish giving that the Society provides, the unlimited help offered through the members, and the sense of a “second family” even in the way a guest is treated. He knew this was an incredible fit, and he has been truly infused into the group since the first meeting.

Most Significant Event in S.E.C.:

Lance carries many responsibilities through the S.E.C. meetings. He is in charge of many behind-the-scene events that the normal attendee would not know about. Pay attention at the next meeting, and aside from the presentations and constant activity, look for the blur running around the edge of the room fixing what everyone else commonly breaks. Lance considers the group his extended family. “I was the oldest brother growing up and I guess I play the same role with S.E.C.” He has always been fond of the Society and cannot think of another group that “when push comes to shove everyone comes together to make it happen.”

By gaining a better understanding of Lance and his characteristics, and the importance the S.E.C. plays in his life, one can truly understand what this organization is all about, and the class and prestige of its members. There are very few opportunities in this world to come across such unique individuals who will go out of their way to help anyone in a struggle in the way that Lance Warner has done throughout his career.

One Comment »

  1. What an interesting life, Lance!