by CYNTHIA KMETT
Becoming a successful company takes time and a great deal of effort. But Kamal and Yasmine Shouhayib, owners of Choice Properties, which is part of Troy-based The Choice Group, have been giving back to Troy for over 30 years.
This Thursday Leadership Troy will present the company with this year’s Outstanding Business award at the annual Volunteer’s Awards Dinner at the San Marino Club.
Why give back?
“Troy has been very good to us and we believe in supporting the communities where we do business,” Shouhayib states.
It all started back in the early 1970s when Kamal came to Troy as a new civil engineer thanks to his education at Michigan Technological University. Being a builder was always on his mind, as his father, Hassan, was a builder in their native Lebanon. We can’t be sure if joining the Troy Rotary Club was his first civic endeavor, but it continues to be his passion and his “soft spot.”
Over the years, Choice Properties was instrumental in developing and building over a dozen subdivisions in Troy and surrounding communities. Today, however, they have their focus on Troy’s office buildings. After a couple of decades on the 12th floor of Top of Troy, they decided to find their own corporate home. After completing the renovations on their new headquarters at the southwest corner of Livernois and Kirts, it was on to adding and renovating a Big Beaver office building for the company portfolio.
“We’ve started investing in the Troy office community,” Shouhayib declares. In fact, the newest office addition is also at the corner of Livernois and Kirts, only this time it’s the property with CJ Mahoney’s in it, as well as the four office buildings behind it to the west. “We’re very excited about that property,” he says, noting “that we’ve started renovations and there’s more to come. Troy is a magnet city.”
While all this expansion of Choice Properties’ business dealings has been going on, Shouhayib also has been actively giving back to the community. It’s been 30 years since he initiated the “Proud to be an American” writing and poetry competition for Troy’s middle school students, and it comes with cash rewards, too. Over 15,000 Troy students have participated in this contest over the years.
“Our kids take America for granted, all the liberties we have,” Shouhayib observes. “We just wanted our kids to appreciate America for all that is good. Anyone can make it here.”
“Our economic system is the best in the world. Anyone can make it with innovation and a college education,” he says, pointing out there are over 1,700 colleges and universities in America.
“Wait,” he hesitates, holding up his hand. “It’s very hard finding the trades (plumbers, carpenters, welders) to work on buildings and homes today. We need technical and skilled workers, too. These are professions our educational systems should go back to supporting, Shouhayib says knowingly.”
When things like the Peace Garden at the Troy Library looked like it might not become a reality, it was Choice Properties that stepped up to see that it was completed. This Volunteer Awards Dinner where the company will be honored on Thursday has been sponsored by Choice Properties since 1990. Kamal Shouhayib was named Troy’s Distinguished Citizen in 2003. In addition, he has served on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club of Troy as well as the Troy Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a great city, we’re pleased and proud residents,” he declares.