As you drive along Beach Drive and pass McNeill Bay, it is easy for your eyes to gravitate towards the ocean and to miss the cedar shake house set back on one of the ocean-view lots. But step through the door of this immaculate home and you find a sanctuary: of art, of work, and of family.
This home has witnessed the growth and change of a family and business, as three generations of Zieglers worked together to carve out a unique reputation in the real estate business. For this bloodline, this year marks the 50-year milestone of building relationships and selling homes in Oak Bay. In proper Ziegler fashion, they are doing something unique to celebrate.
Thirty years ago, the Oak Bay Star interviewed Michael Ziegler in this Beach Drive home that he and his wife Vicki purchased in 1976. At that time, he was working with his mother and father, Lorraine and Eric Ziegler, who had begun the family tradition of selling real estate, and his son Tristan was just four years old.
Michael began working with his mother and father in real estate as “a mistake” after graduating from UVic with an honours degree in political science and economics, but failing his LSAT exams – he needed to find a job for the summer and his mother Lorraine asked if he wanted to work with her in real estate. Michael took her up on the offer and ended up working with her for years until he eventually “fired” her when she was 84 and ready to retire. Michael has been heavily involved in the industry since, taking positions as president of the Canadian Real Estate Association and chair of the Real Estate Council.
Woven throughout Michael’s real estate career, discussed in the article years ago and still prevalent today, is his love and dedication to the arts – both as an artist and an arts supporter. It is in fact what distinguished the Ziegler family business from others in real estate.
With a background in art, Michael saw a way to help the family business stand out.
“In the beginning, the primary way to promote properties was by photographing them. Black and white photos that were flat on the page,” said Michael. “I wanted something that would have a little kick to it. So I started doing line drawings with all the properties we sold. That became a very recognizable feature of our advertising.”
He has drawn hundreds of them over the years, and while he doesn’t do many anymore, art still plays a large part in his life and business. Michael is always thinking about how to add art to a business environment.
Today, Michael’s son Tristan, who is around the same age Michael was in the article 30 years ago, is now his business partner.
“I realized what a beautiful opportunity it would be to work with my dad and continue the legacy that my grandma started,” said Tristan. “Grandma was a legend and my dad is my mentor.”
“I don’t think I ever thought I’d be as privileged as to have such a great relationship with my son and actually work with him on a daily basis,” said Michael. “After my mom and dad passed away there was a big vacuum there. It has been absolutely fabulous to put the Zieglers back on track as a family team. My greatest joy is going to work with my son every day.”
As art has been such a thread throughout the business over the years, and in celebration of the 50th anniversary, the Zieglers invite their clients, many of whom have done business with all three generations of Zieglers, to choose a print from the Ziegler collection.
“We decided to provide every one of our clients old and new the opportunity to have a framed piece of original art. It’s an opportunity to say thank you to all the people we have been working with over the years,” said Michael.
As for retiring, Michael doesn’t plan on doing it anytime soon, joking that he is on Freedom 95.
“If you can actually work at something that you enjoy so much that it doesn’t feel like you’re working, I think you’ve been truly blessed,” said Michael. “This profession, real estate, has given me that opportunity.”