Profile: Patrick Richard, founder and CEO of Stoneweg US
Real Estate Quarterly
Swiss citizen and St. Petersburg resident Patrick Richard likes to veer off the beaten path. He’s the founder and CEO of Stoneweg US, a real estate investment firm specializing in acquisitions and developments that serves as the American arm of Stoneweg SA, which also has offices in Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Andorra.
Unlike many Florida developments solely geared towards luxury living in major metros, Stoneweg’s latest project, Tuscan Reserve Apartments, involves renovating and expanding an existing apartment complex from 16 units to 123 sustainable units in Palm Coast, a growing city nestled between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach.
Upon completion, Tuscan Reserve Apartments will be a market-deal residence, with superior amenities and polished designs for all potential residents. “We develop quality, sustainable living environments for people who can’t afford to live in the downtown areas of any big city with today’s inflated rents,” Richard says. “It’s the strategy we started with and where most of our investments are. In my business, I have many different clients but my most important client is our residents. I owe them a roof, security, sustainability, affordability and peace of mind. At the end of the day, we’re really service providers and the service we provide is comfortable living.”
From a young age, Richard gravitated toward new paths. As a 15-year-old, Richard left his family for Frankfurt, Germany, on an extended exchange program to learn a new culture and the German language. As a young adult, back in his native Switzerland, he tested himself with rock climbing, skiing and mountaineering. His father was a banker and his mother a nurse, yet Richard pursued law as an area outside his comfort zone, at the University of Geneva. After passing the bar, he started his own successful general practice. “I didn’t have any connections within law,” Richard says, “so I just founded my own firm, taking on many different kinds of clients. The entrepreneurial spirit was there from the beginning of my working life.”
Six years later, in 2006, Richard discovered the challenge of real estate by chance, and his life charted a new course. As he explains, “A friend of mine introduced me to a client who needed legal assistance with a real estate issue. They had a portfolio that they wanted to swap into a real estate investment trust fund and they didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know how to do it either, but we decided to figure it out together.”
“It became a passion because the project was so big and it took so much of my time. There were so many different aspects of the work that I enjoyed. It was also a great success story because my clients started from nothing, yet they brought together a portfolio worth $30 million, and then we were able to bring it to the next level and create a fund, raising about $100 million for our first capital increase.”
From that beginning, Richard and his partners founded Procimmo SA, working together until their paths amicably diverged. “We had two different visions and strategies for continuing. The opportunity for Stoneweg US arose, so I sold my shares to pursue my own vision.” Leaving on good terms, Richard remained on the board at Procimmo SA for another two years before finally stepping down last year to focus on Stoneweg.
The company’s name itself suggests new routes, an original combination of the English word “stone” with the German word for “way.” Richard admits everything about his work in America feels like carving out an unknown trail, despite the familiarity of real estate: “ I’m doing exactly the same thing I was doing in Switzerland: running an asset management company and buying, managing and selling real estate. While the nature of what I’m doing may seem like exactly the same thing, it’s completely different because the way real estate operates here is completely different. The benchmarks are different, the financing is different, the relationship with the sellers and the buyers are different, the relationships with the residents are different, the type of assets you buy here are different. I am perpetually learning new things here which brings so much to me and my own personal development.”
Richard and his family were previously connected to the St. Petersburg community. When Richard suggested a vacation to South Florida, on the recommendation of a friend, his wife researched the state and came back with St. Petersburg. Before returning to Switzerland on that first trip, the couple were so impressed they bought a second home in the area. “It’s the city, it’s the people, it’s the walkability, the size, the water, the subtropical climate, all of it. We left a paradise in Switzerland to come to another paradise here.” They moved permanently in 2018, living just south of downtown on the Bay.
Richard is excited about the road ahead, despite—or because of— any obstacles along the way. One unexpected challenge involves communication. Although multilingual, Patrick admits he sometimes has to repeat himself or find other ways to say the same thing, when speaking in English. The context he most wants to improve is American sports talk. “I’m lacking your typical American sports background, and I miss that. Sports are a great connection and many Americans are linked with some type of sports team, as a fan. It’s a part of many casual conversations, so it’s a definite cultural difference.”
With all the Bay area teams to choose from, Richard will soon find the way to Florida sports, but in the meantime, he’s focused on directing Stoneweg. “You can’t do any business today unless you’re sustainable. It’s in our DNA as a company. We do everything we can to go the sustainable route. Even if it costs a lot of money, it has a high return for our residents, for investors and for the planet, so it’s definitely the way we will go.” ♦