Bill Shroyer Talks Professional Life and City Council Tenure

Writer & Photographer / David Fennig

It’s hard to picture downtown Muncie as it once was: the convention center missing, the Roberts Hotel closed and dilapidated, Walnut Street closed to traffic, and business fronts with boarded-up windows.Muncie

Bill Shroyer, owner of Vogue Cleaners, real estate entrepreneur and long-serving city councilman, reminisces fondly over his role in turning downtown into a business-friendly hub for Muncie. “Our number one was opening up the downtown with vehicle traffic,” he says regarding the first years of his service on city council in the late 1980s. “Number two was try to develop the hotel that was closed. We finally found a developer in Louisville and he came in and developed it. Number three was the convention center.”

Shroyer was born and raised in Muncie, and is proud to call it home and to have been in business here for over 70 years. He was drafted into the Army in 1953 and spent 18 months in the military serving in Korea, and he was released early from his two-year commitment.

While he was in the service, his brother started planning a deal with the owner of a local dry cleaning store for the two brothers to buy the business after Shroyer was released from duty.

“I didn’t know what to do when I came out, so we took over the laundry in January of 1955,” he says.

By working hard at keeping the focus on customer service, they were able to establish not only their first location into a successful small business, but also purchase property to build out a new store and eventually open multiple locations.

“The first property I bought was on my birthday, the 23rd of September 1960,” Shroyer says.

He recommends for small-business owners to diversify and get into real estate whenever possible.

“I felt like I got some really good advice from a couple individuals that were in the real estate business,” he says. “We were OK in the laundry and cleaning business so I wanted to diversify.”

MuncieHe managed to not only purchase the real estate that he used for his dry cleaning stores, but also expand into purchasing other locations, both commercial and residential, eventually renting them out.

“I never was able to pay cash for anything,” he says. “I would accumulate a little money and then I would buy them on contract, and then rent them out. I would try to buy something that was close to something I already owned.”

Over the years Shroyer has acquired a number of properties, and prefers to keep properties that he manages in close proximity to each other. He recognized that a big part of success is being prepared with your timing, and having a good team of professionals on your side.

“My biggest years were from 1969 to 1975,” he says. “It seemed like there were lots of good opportunities that came up. I had a good realtor. I had a good lawyer and a good accountant. They were a big part of my success. When the opportunities came, if things looked good and I could afford it, then I bought it.”

In the mid-1980s, Shroyer started to look for more opportunities to become involved in the city. His journey from soldier to small-business owner to real estate entrepreneur guided him towards politics, which allowed him to change in the way he helped guide and grow his community.

“I guess I have politics in my blood,” he says. “I was born and raised with politics, you might say.”

His father was elected to the city council for 18 years and was president for six years. Shroyer followed in his father’s political footsteps, and served on the city council for 24 years including 14 as president.

“Of course my family was always with me, and if you’ve got your family, with you, you’ve got everything,” he says.

During his long service on the council, Shroyer helped to direct Muncie, shaping it into the community we know today.Muncie

Aside from the redevelopment of the downtown into a vehicle-friendly space, he cites zoning changes, to bring in the southside Walmart as well as Meijer and Menards, as major victories for his tenure as councilman and city council president.

“My goal was to make Muncie a better city to live and work in,” he says. “What was good for Muncie was good for me.”

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