Omaha Businessman Rodrigo López Speaks on Leadership Skills at 2019 Commencement Ceremony
Character, commitment, and courage. Rodrigo López, the Chairman of AmeriSphere Companies emphasized those traits when he served as speaker at the Bellevue University 2019 Spring Commencement ceremony.
“Those traits are applicable to every aspect of our lives, whether it is family, community, church, work, or country,” López said. “They are the leadership traits that make someone successful. You keep going back to those three things.”
López came to the United States from Colombia in 1971 as an exchange student studying and living in Superior, Nebraska. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture, and later, an Executive MBA.
He spent his early career designing buildings, but got involved with mortgage loans and real estate investment at the urging of a client. An entrepreneurial spirit prompted him to found AmeriSphere MultiFamily Finance in 1997. He started the business out of his home and built it to 55 employees with loans in 39 states and a portfolio worth close to $500 million before selling the company to Northmarq Capital Finance in 2015.
“Every company in the world was a startup at one time. They all began with the idea of one individual, an entrepreneur,” López said. “It's extremely important to teach and mentor individuals about entrepreneurship.”
López retained that entrepreneurial spirit even after selling AmeriSphere MultiFamily Finance. Today, he is Chairman of AmeriSphere Companies and is one of the leaders in downtown Omaha development projects such as the Capitol District Apartments.
“Capitol Place is mixed-use, but primarily residential rental housing,” López said. “The first floor will be for commercial use. Hopefully, we'll have some restaurants and other commercial spaces. Floors two, three, four, and five are rental units of different sizes, different floor plans. It's a different side of the rental housing industry. Before, we were providing the capital solutions. Now, we are taking the ownership position. Hopefully, there'll be more in the future.”
While López has had partners of one kind or another in most of his business ventures, one stands out above the others – his wife, Mary.
“I’ve been married for 35 years. She's always been the one that has counseled me and advised me,” he said. “If I paid attention, I generally came out okay. When I did not, things didn't work out as well.”
“Education is important to not only me, but also my wife. We have always been very interested in supporting all aspects of education from very high-level research to programs that help people become gainfully employed and into a good place in society.”
In addition to his own business ventures, López sits on the boards of several for-profit and non-profit endeavors including Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, Mutual of Omaha Bank and Lamp Rynearson & Associates. He’s proud of those, as well as of his non-profit undertakings, serving on the board for Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Omaha Performing Arts, and the University of Nebraska Foundation.
To see Rodrigo's commencement speech, click here.