Tempered growth, with a heart
Ozaukee Economic Development Medium Business of the Year:
Spectrum Investment Advisers

By Sheryl Popp - Special to Conley Media

Sept. 10, 2019

Shown is the majority of Spectrum’s staff. Between the women in the front row are James Marshall and Jonathan Marshall, chief investment and chief compliance officer. Over his left shoulder is Manuel Rosado, newly named president.
Submitted photo

MEQUON — James Marshall has made his living in the investment world for 50 years. When his client base and business acumen had progressed enough, he opened the doors to his own firm. Some of his original customers are still with Spectrum Investments.

“We rented space on Donges Bay Road,” said Marshall, “and had 10 employees. When the firm grew, we had to expand there or build. Just like any other business, the key is location, location, location. We wanted the exposure on Mequon Road.”

Marshall’s was the first business to open in the new Mequon Town Center. According to him, the developers were visionaries, but needed someone crazy enough to be first. Marshall planned for his building and his business to be multi-generational. His son Jonathan was his fourth employee, and has been with the firm 16 years. One benefit of the building is that there’s room for a tenant, The Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce. Marshall is a recent past president. Prior to that, he led the membership committee and grew the membership list from 390 to 470. The new building opened in 2012. It boasts a coffee house, where Marshall is happy to host community events.

“We have had 70 events there with 40 different organizations in Mequon so far,” said Marshall.

Marshall's choice of location proved exceptionally wise. Across the road is the Spur 16 development and behind him are the Foxtown Development projects. Marshall again thought ahead to sustaining growth and decided this time to build up. He added a large second story, designed by the same architect in the same style as the original space.

So impressed were Spectrum leaders with the massive flag that hangs outside Acuity Insurance in Sheboygan, they asked and received permission from the company to have the flag photographed and reproduced. That reproduction now adorns a large wall in the Spectrum office.
Photo by Sheryl Popp

“There is over $40 million in development across the road and $50 million in development behind me,” said Marshall. “We didn’t need to expand now, but we will grow. Adding on now, I also have preserved our corner parking. I’d like to thank the Mequon business community for the concept of the town center, and particularly, I have to thank Cindy Shaffer from Spur 16 and Tom Nieman from Foxtown. They are truly making this a phenomenal area.”

The second story has working space for about 30 additional employees. It has a second coffeehouse, the President’s Café, a large conference room and some inspired tribute walls. With the additional meeting space, a speaker in the coffeehouse below can be televised on two large screens above, and a total of 100 guests can view the same speaker. One of the walls in the central office is a Warren Buffett time line. Buffett, third wealthiest man in the world, is an inspiration to both James and Jonathan Marshall, who have attended 14 consecutive shareholder leadership meetings hosted by Buffett in Omaha.

“When asked how he wanted to be remembered,” Marshall said, “Buffett answered ‘As a teacher.’ I feel like we are teachers too. We want to simplify investing for our clients.”

Three walls of the new conference room are decorated with portraits of all the United States presidents. Three or four of each one’s major accomplishments is listed below. Perhaps most interesting of all are some of the walls in the central working space, the back wall and part of two side walls. Here hang photos of people who have served in the armed forces, from the American Revolution through Iraq. It’s commonly called their soldier wall. Each soldier is related to a Spectrum employee. Marshall was inspired to create this wall by his daughter-in-law’s relatives, who have served as far back as the Revolution. All together, the walls comprise what Marshall calls the American tailwind, a phrase coined by Buffett.

“Why did we do these walls?” said Marshall. “This is where we show our gratitude to our ancestors. We’re strong believers in telling a story. Customers take information in with their heads, but they make decisions with their hearts. And each wall was the project of one of our scholarship recipients. We saw how much talent they all had and hired them as interns.”

Spectrum Investment Advisers was recognized by Ozaukee Economic Development not only for their efforts on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, but also for their support via scholarships at Homestead and Germantown high schools and for contributing annually to 20 different organizations. Marshall believes the more you give, the more you get back.

“I built this building when I was 65,” Marshall said. “I remodeled it at 71. I’ve appointed a new leadership team here, and I want to step into the role of chairman and ambassador. I’m preparing for the future. It’s good to grow, but not so fast that you stop enjoying the ride.”


Spectrum Investment Advisers
6349 W. Mequon Road

Hours: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.