From the owner, Brian Metzger– “I’ve been a landlord in Salina for many years now. I’ve always taken pride in my community and have tried to do what I could to make it a better place. In the fall of 2017 I turned over the day-to-day management of my rental property business to my son, Logan (Metzger Homes and Property Management). Leading up to this transition I gave a lot of thought to what I would want to do with my newfound free time. Other than a little more fishing and the occasional afternoon nap, anyway
I wanted to do something that would serve people in need. Something that would make my community a better place to live. As a landlord, I tried to learn as much as I could about all of the issues that I had to deal with. One of the things that I learned about was household pests. Roaches. Spiders. Ants. BED BUGS! It seemed like an obvious decision. I studied and studied some more.
I got my pesticide applicators certification and my pest control license. I became obsessed with bed bugs in particular. I read everything I could find. I watched countless hours of videos. I had discussions with and learned from some of the leading experts in the country.
I established my own little colony of bed bugs kept in jars. I fed them myself with my own blood. I observed how they fed, how they acted and where they liked to hide before and after feeding. I researched everything I could find about current treatment methods, pros, cons, ups, downs, ins and outs. I have a new mission. To eliminate as many bed bugs as possible for as many people as possible, and for the best price possible.”
From an article in The Salina Journal, September 5, 2004, by Edie Hall.
Brian Metzger says he is following God’s call to be a compassionate landlord
God told Noah to build the Ark out of gopher wood, and he did. God told Brian Metzger to do something a little different with gopher wood, and he is.
“I feel very, very strongly that, for whatever reason, God has given me this mission to be the best possible landlord I can be and provide the best places for people I can, ” said Metzger, owner and founder of Gopherwood Property.
His rental agency’s name is based on Genesis 6:14. God tells Noah “Make thee an ark of gopher wood.” Metzger, who was born and raised in Salina, was working as a senior account executive with Alltel and had begun dabbling in the rental business when a command he heard clear as a bell changed his life.
” I was sitting in church one Sunday, and was just praying as hard as I could for the ability to make the best possible decision for myself, my wife and kids; the tenants, and anyone I might do business with or anyone who might be affected by my actions,” Metzger, 38 said. “And there was this inaudible voice in the back of my head that said, ‘Go get a physcial.’ It wasn’t really what you expect to hear in church.”
But although he didn’t understand how getting a physical would help him make decisions about his future, Metzger, for the first time in his life, got a physical.
“I told the doctor to check for everything he could justify checking for,” Metzger said. “He listened to my heart and said. ‘Something’s not right.’
Metzger said a specialist out of Wichita was called in to consult and he, too, had a command for Metzger. “He asked me how soon I could get up to Wichita, and this was on a Thursday. I told him I had plans with my kids for that weekend so probably not until the next week,” Metzger said. “And he said, ‘No, I mean what time tomorrow morning can you get to Wichita; I understand you have plans with your kids, but I’m more concerned about keeping you alive so you can see your kids after this weekend.”
It turns out Metzger had a defective heart valve, and his heart wasn’t getting enough oxygen he said.
“My doctor told me I was already in the beginnings of heart failure and that at some point very, very soon, I wouldn’t have a heart attack, my heart would just seize and that would be it – I’d be dead.”
Metzger now has a mechanical heart valve.
“It’s noisy — it ticks. My family teases me about being able to hear me tick,” Metzger said.
After undergoing open heart surgery and another emergency surgery in June 2001, Metzger started changing his life.
“In August of 2001, I bought six duplexes, and it’s been a nonstop mission for me ever since,” He said. “In May (2004) I quit my regular job to dedicate myself to it full time – doing nothing but remodeling the old, ugly, neglected properties I’ve bought.”
Metzger now owns 27 properties all over town.
Making a difference
He said he just wants to make a difference in the lives of his tenants and neighborhoods.
“It seems more important now to do things right and to try to do things that are going to make some kind of difference,” Metzger said. “When I had my surgery, I thought about if I don’t make it through this surgery, what are people going to say about me? Would my being here mean that much if I didn’t make it? I still don’t know the answer to that.”
“There are a lot of good people out there who need a good place to live,” he said. “Also I’m proud of my community, and I like being able to take something that is an eyesore and turn it into something that someone can be proud of.”
It’s important to do things right to make a tenant’s life easier, he said. That includes doing work that might not be evident at first glance.
“My banker was here a couple of weeks ago, seeing how I was spending his money, Metzger said. He was looking at the paint on the outside of the house that I hadn’t finished yet, and wondering what I was spending money on. He couldn’t see the upgrades in plumbing insulation and the electrical improvements I had done.”
There if you need him
The tenants, whether they’ve lived in one of Metzger’s properties for three months or three years, have good things to say about him.
(tenant name removed), who has rented from Metzger for three years at his 411 W. Hamilton property, said she’s had no problems with Metzger. “If I need him, he’s here, and if not – he doesn’t bother us,” she said.
(tenant name removed), 124 N. Ohio, had the same types of things to say, although she’s only rented from Metzger for four months. “I was pregnant at the time and needed a place to stay”, She said. This was the first place I looked at. It was nice and we decided to rent it.”
No complaints about Metzger as a landlord have been filed with the city’s Human Resources Department.
God and low rents
Metzger said he tries to keep the rent payments, low, which has created a problem. While all but two of his 27 properties currently are rented, he said he sets the rents so low, he’s not making enough to support the business.
“I don’t know ultimately why God would want me to be a landlord. To do well financially – I hope so, but I don’t see that being his plan.”
He figures he’ll need to own about 50 properties to make the business successful.
It’s the finances with which he’s having the most troubles keeping the faith. But he has a solution for that. “I tell myself to just keep doing what you can do, and the rest will be taken care of,” Metzger said. He said each day he tries to stay focused on “what the next right thing for me to do is.”
“What I pray for regularly is for knowledge of God’s will and for God to help me follow his will,” Metzger said.
Metzger also said although he regularly seeks direction from God on his business, he doesn’t often share his story with others. “I like sharing what it is that I’m trying to do, but it’s not something I do very much. I figure a lot of people might think I’m a kook anyways,” Metzger said. It’s like ‘Oh yeah – God told you to be a landlord – sure.’ ”
Metzger also said he is more focused on doing the work than talking about it.
“Good old Noah was out there in the desert being a good guy and God tells him to build this ark, and he dedicated the rest of his life to building the boat, Metzger said. Not everyone knew why he was doing what he was doing, and I’m sure he got some looks. It’s just more important to me to get it done than to explain why I’m doing it.”
Although he attended church with his parents every Sunday until he was 11, Metzger’s path to faith actually began with an appetite for any drug he could get his hands on, beginning earlier than he can remember.
“I was kind of a child prodigy when it came to using dope,” Metzger said. “I was doing drugs when I was 12, but before kindergarten I was stealing my folks cigarettes, beer – whatever.”
Metzger said the feeling he got from drugs and the acceptance from his peers kept him using. “Anything I could get my hands on, I would not turn down – pot, cocaine, sedatives, tranquilizers ,speed and alcohol – I was even drinking lighter fluid (which caused hallucinations).
Metzger’s life was falling down around him. “The feel-good didn’t last but a couple of years, and in eighth grade I remember getting high to feel normal at school,” he said. “I knew I was dependent.”
Metzger said he tried to prove to his friends that he wasn’t dependent by going drug-free for 30 days. “I was miserable,” he said. “I didn’t make it to the 30 days, I was just miserable, suicidal. And someone suggested that I go to a meeting.” So, Metzger went, scared to death, and started a 12 step recovery program getting clean in 1980.
Find a mission
He said at first he didn’t want anything to do with God, despite the fact that a relationship with a higher power is an important part of the 12-step program. But after nine months of meetings, he started to open his heart and mind, and he began praying.
He’s spent the last 24 years praying for knowledge of God’s will for him, the ability to recognize it when God reveals his will and the power to carry it out. “It’s a relationship I’ve really been trying to improve for most of my life,” Metzger said. “I had somebody here a while back who said something about how I was a good Christian man. Most of the time I don’t feel very good at it – but I am trying.
“When I was excitedly telling my dad what I wanted to do, he was quiet for a long time, and finally said, “Brian, sometimes you scare the heck out of me,” Metzger said. “My family is supportive, and my dad seems to be proud of me, which means a lot to me.” He said he also owes a lot to the men who work with him to fix up the properties he buys. “I can’t afford to pay them much, But they have great hearts and are working hard to help me out,” Metzger said.
He also finds help and encouragement in unlikely places. “A few years ago, I had a heating and air guy working on an air conditioner in one of my places,” Metzger said. “He was asking some probing questions and I told him the abbreviated version of the story.” “I told him I knew it sounded ridiculous and he said, ‘Well, Brian, God needs landlords and heating and air guys, too. Find a mission in whatever you do,’ and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”