By Shelly Janke
At an age when many workers would be retiring, Matthew Fuchs decided to start a business with his son.
Building on his decades of success in the academic world and other arenas, Fuchs, 72, partnered with his son William in 2003 to start Waukesha-based Total Team Construction LLC, offering everything from construction management to property maintenance management.
In response to the flailing economy, the company launched a new division in February 2008 to help banks unload real estate assets that have gone through foreclosure.
“It’s been a very good venue for us,” William said. “(My dad is) very conservative and proactive when it comes to checking finances and being on top of things.”
Matthew honed those organizational skills and leadership abilities during his decades of service at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.
A 1963 graduate of the school, Matthew started MSOE’s Architectural Engineering and Building Construction Department more than 35 years ago.
He also served as the owner representative on major MSOE projects such as the remodeling of the Campus Center building, the Alumni Partnership Center and, most recently, The Kern Center, a $31 million sports, health and fitness building.
Though his many duties kept him busy, Matthew always made time for his students and peers, said Robert Lemke, an MSOE professor in the Architectural Engineering and Building Construction Department.
“I always looked at him as this multitasking kind of guy,” Lemke said. “The program he founded has grown to be one of the best in the country. Still, he always had time for students.”
Though he was a part-time principal of several companies over the years, Matthew mentored hundreds of students during his decades at MSOE, William Fuchs said.
That guidance also was extended to peers, as Lemke experienced when he approached Matthew about a teaching job in the Architectural Engineering and Building Construction Department in 1990, he said.
“He was very encouraging,” Lemke said. “That’s the way he is.”
In the little free time he had left, Matthew founded the American Institute of Constructors Wisconsin Chapter, William said, in addition to giving back through hours of community outreach. Through it all, his father has remained a true family man, William said.
“I’ve learned almost everything from him,” he said, “like how to treat people fairly and that a man is only as good as his word. It is your reputation and your legacy.”