Sunday, September 11, 2011
At the age of 12, Jordan Wirsz was growing weary of being raised in a poor household and having to go without. So he decided to change that.
To earn some money, the Summerlin resident began selling herbal supplements at 12 years old. As his business savvy grew, Wirsz gained confidence and decided he would become a serious businessman. And a passion for aircraft worked its way into the picture.
Wirsz began brokering helicopters at age 14 and flying airplanes at 15. He made a solo flight at 16, earned his private pilot, instrument and multi-engine instrument licenses at 17 and became a licensed commercial pilot at 18.
Now, at the seasoned age of 22, Wirsz is the president and chief executive officer of Diamond Bay Investments, 6212 W. Desert Inn Road, a real estate investment firm.
"Since I was 5, I've had a fascination with aviation," Wirsz said.
When he was 14, he noticed there was a helicopter on sale on the Internet, so he contacted the owner. Wirsz said he was hoping to purchase the helicopter for about $2,500. However, after a few e-mail correspondences with the owner, Wirsz found out the price was $55,000.
"And he said that I sounded much more mature than 14 through the e-mails, and then he said, 'If you find a buyer, I'll give you $2,500.' "
Three months later, Wirsz found a buyer and received his $2,500.
"I invested it in commodities, expecting to make about $1 million, and I lost all but $6.32 of it," he said.
Wirsz grew up in Southern California, living with his mother. He moved to Florida at age 16 and began living with his father. Around this time, Wirsz developed an online company that sold aviation equipment for pilots, which he eventually sold.
"I didn't have time to go to school," Wirsz said. "Between the ages of 16 and 18, I worked from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the airport washing and fueling planes."
Wirsz said to earn time flying and gain knowledge of planes, he worked at an airport in Florida for several years doing odd jobs and completing any work that needed to be done. Therefore, Wirsz was home-schooled, and received his high school diploma, but college never seemed worth the time, he said. He discussed his collegiate possibilities with his numerous mentors, but concluded that his "real-life experience" was essentially just as valuable.
"It wouldn't make sense for me to go to school now," he said. "Just to get a piece of paper, it wouldn't be in my best interest. You don't necessarily need the degree when you are your own boss."
"At 18, I started getting involved in real estate and began investing in trust deeds," Wirsz said. "It (the business) was an interest I forced my way into. I wouldn't say my parents were that supportive."
But he had his own incentive and drive. "I'm a 22-year-old millionaire. It can't get much better than that," he quipped with a grin. "But it can, actually. It can get much better, because I strive to reach new goals and learn more every day."
Wirsz's long-term goal is to have a $1.25 billion net worth. Why? The answer is simple: he wants to be a billionaire.
"My goal is to donate $250 million to charities throughout my life. And to be able to pass on about $250 million," he said.
Wirsz said the charities he is most involved in are the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation, which provides children and adolescent cancer patients or survivors and their families with education and support, and an orphanage in Mexico.
"I went down there (Mexico) coming up on two years ago, and with my church, we built a home in three days," he said.
"Religion plays a huge part in my life," said Wirsz, a nondenominational Christian. "Every day, I thank God for helping me get to where I am."
He explained there came a point in his life when he had enough money to do anything he ever cared to do, but it wasn't necessarily fulfilling. "Religion fulfills my life, not money. You can buy what you want and party it up, but it doesn't provide the fulfillment."
Wirsz is active in aerobatics -- performing rolls and loops and other feats often seen in air shows -- and is looking forward to flying with his girlfriend Sunny Reifel in future air shows when she finishes her aerobatics training.
Wirsz, who owns three airplanes, said he grew tired of being a commercial pilot for an engineering company after about six months on the job.
"In five months, I went from being the new guy to lead pilot and topped out at $22,000 a year," said Wirsz, who now flies for mere enjoyment.
Reifel, a former U.S. Airways pilot, said Wirsz is the most genuine person she has ever known.
"He is so unique, not just because he is so young and successful, but because success has followed him because he always has the best intentions," said Reifel, 22.
One of Wirsz's many endearing traits is his reliability, Reifel said. "When he commits to something he follows through wholeheartedly."
One of Wirsz's mentors, Bill Burrows, shared similar sentiments. Burrows, a lieutenant with the Colton Police Department in California, has known Wirsz for about 10 years.
"He is a remarkable person," said Burrows, 49. "So full of energy, but yet still so respectful."
For now, besides running the investment firm, Wirsz is writing a book about how to achieve success.
"My biggest piece of advice is to surround yourself with people you strive to be like and to listen to what they say," he said. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't listen to what people had to say. Mentors are still huge in my life. Absolutely everyone should have a mentor."
Burrows, Wirsz's first mentor, said Wirsz still asks for his advice on a regular basis.
"In the end he makes his own decisions," Burrows said. "But he talks to a lot of people before he makes a decision. But he does it to collect information, and then he makes the best decision he can."