Founder and Innovator
Rudy Trebels is the CEO and a founder of Wedgewood Investment Group, LLC, headquartered in Northfield, Illinois. Wedgewood, founded in 2009, is today, a very successful commercial real estate investment firm in the Midwest, providing funding and development of senior living communities.
Rudy has led the company since its founding and has established a tradition of competitive excellence with the design and delivery of Wedgewood financial products, including construction loans, mortgages, mezzanine loans, bridge and equity capital. For middle-market companies, Wedgewood assists in financing business operations, recapitalization, and the development and acquisition of carefully chosen prime real estate assets necessary for market growth.
Rudy Trebels has spent more than four decades as an innovator in the U.S. real estate and finance industries. He has completed more than $1 billion in transactions serving more than 100 lenders and investors, while helping hundreds of companies across the nation achieve their growth and operational goals.
In 1988, Rudy also founded and was CEO of IFC Credit Corporation, which was quickly one of the most successful equipment-leasing companies in “Chicagoland,” the greater metropolitan area surrounding the largest city in the Midwest which is home to nearly 10 million people. Rudy then grew the business to become the 15th largest independent lessors in the United States with 120 employees nationwide. Rudy opened IFC offices in Portland, Southern California, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas that funded $900 million in opportunities. At the innovative core of IFC, under Rudy’s leadership, were IFC’s small-ticket vendor programs, its middle-market leasing, financing and brokerage operations. At IFC, Rudy and his team directed a portfolio of over $250 million, including four acquisitions, and established credit facilities of over $100,000,000.
Dutch and Midwestern Roots
Rudy is the son of Jana Lee Trebels and Rudolph Trebels Sr., a decorated fighter pilot in the Royal Dutch Air Force during World War II, who flew and fought above Japanese-occupied islands in the South Pacific. Rudolph was a member of the famed No. 120 Squadron, a joint Dutch and Australian fighter force that saw combat in and around New Guinea during 1944 and 1945, equipped with legendary Curtis P-4 Kittyhawk fighter planes which fought and defeated Japan’s much more capable A6M Zero and Nakakima Ki-43 lightweight fighters. Rudy’s mother, Jana, was born in Kansas City, Missouri and attended the University of Missouri. Jana and Rudolph lived in Australia until 1948 when they moved to Chicago. Rudolph and Jana together founded and owned Trebels Millwork and Supply Company, providing metropolitan and suburban contractors with thousands of high-quality doors, trim, flooring, wall paneling and crown molding that can still be found in fine homes and office towers in the greater Chicagoland area.
From his parents, Rudy learned not just entrepreneurial skills but the value of a lifelong commitment to community and public service. Rudy graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa in business and has actively served on the Drake University Board of Trustees since 2007. Drake University is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review as one of the finest mid-sized institutions of learning in the Midwest, currently enrolling more than 3,300 undergraduates and 1,700 graduate students from 40 states and more than 40 countries. Rudy is a major benefactor of Drake University, he has made more than $100,000 in contributions to the campus and he serves on the athletic, student life and is current Chair of the Buildings and Grounds committee.
Rudy and his wife Lee Trebels are also major benefactors of Boys Hope Girls Hope of Illinois where Rudy has actively served on the Board of Governors for 20 years.
Since 1979, Boys Hope Girls Hope has provided thousands of at-risk children with a stable home, high quality education, and the support they need to reach their full potential. For nearly 40 years, Boys Hope Girls Hope, which is today one of the most respected charitable foundations in the Chicago Metropolitan Area, has funded and delivered life-changing scholarships to thousands of Chicago area children who are academically capable – all of whom come from families deeply troubled by poverty, homelessness, gang or domestic violence, drug use and other seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Rudy and his wife Lee were the recipients of the prestigious "Heart of Gold Award", the most coveted humanitarian awards in the Chicago metropolitan area, awarded each year by Boys Hope Girls Hope of Illinois to an elite selection of donors and volunteers. Lee and Rudy were honored for years of extraordinary leadership and contributions to the charity work, fundraising, event management, and mentorship that have substantially advanced the mission of this transformational foundation.
Rudy has long been an industry leader, locally and at a national level. Rudy's active professional memberships include American Seniors Housing Association (the nation’s premier source for research, conferences and advocacy for senior housing providers); Argentum (the nation’s largest senior living association); The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (providing data, analytics and choice for investors in senior living centers); the SATSA forum on Chicago’s North Shore; the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (the nation’s largest trade association representing financial companies and manufacturers in the $1-trillion U.S. equipment funding sector); National Association of Equipment Leasing Brokers (nation’s leading advocates for equipment leasing brokers); and Vistage (the world’s leading advisory and executive coaching organization).
Rudy is a past board member and was membership chair of the United Association of Equipment Leasing, which is now the National Equipment Finance Association, then and now the nation’s leading educational forum and career network for equipment finance professionals.
He is a past member of the Executives’ Club of Chicago, the Midwest’s premier business leadership organization and industry forum, a first choice for global and national influentials wishing to address business and community leaders in the region. Among past speakers are U.S. Presidents from Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy to Donald Trump; First Ladies from Eleanor Roosevelt to Michelle Obama; U.S. Secretaries of State from Henry Kissinger to Condoleezza Rice; business leaders from Marshall Field to Michael Eisner and Bill Gates; and woman innovators and pioneers from Amelia Earhart to Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Rudy on aging Baby-Boomers …
“In the senior housing sector, more and more Baby Boomers are finding high quality of life in independent and assisted living communities that cater to their expectations. Known as the most discerning consumers, this generation seeks a holistic experience that includes state-of-the-art amenities, healthcare services, and wellness programs within a community setting.”
Rudy on aging in place …
“A community that allows its residents to age in place gives them the opportunity to have a continuing and ever-deepening connection to other people.”
Rudy on design for quality of life …
“The innovative designs of today’s continuing care retirement communities further enhance a high quality of life for seniors. Interiors emphasize natural light with oversized windows and skylights. Community-building has become preeminent with many places for people to gather, including communal living areas, restaurants, cafes, salons and cinemas.”
Rudy on niche communities …
“For the generation that marches to a different drummer, it makes sense that increasing numbers of retiring Baby Boomers would bring about a greater demand for niche communities. Niche or affinity communities for seniors offer the opportunity to live among like-minded people who share a common interest, religion or identity.”
Rudy on creative property options …
“Church properties gone vacant become sites for new and potential senior housing for the community. Some developers and organizations look to build new developments, while others see potential in renovating existing church buildings. Similarly, senior housing plans and developments have applied their expertise to school buildings that have fallen out of use.”
Rudy on market growth …
“Approximately one million Americans now reside in senior care facilities and this number is expected to double by 2030. The U.S. Administration on Aging projects that the 65 and older population will reach 72.1 million seniors by then which amounts to 19% of the entire U.S. population. Ten thousand people turn 65 years old every day in the U.S., ensuring continued growth and expansion of the senior housing market.”
Rudy on Baby Boomer characteristics …
“In general, [Boomers] are more individualistic and independent; more highly educated; more tech savvy; more likely to be self-indulgent; possess a greater sense of entitlement; and are more used to having a variety of choices of what to do, what to eat and how to live than any of their forebears.”
Rudy on ‘light design’ for senior living …
“The focus on enhancing the physical and mental health of residents has seen today’s memory care designs place greater emphasis on brightly lighting indoor spaces as well as bringing in more natural light through skylights and larger windows… [One] assisted living facility in Ohio recreates the experience of natural daylight with a fiber optic ceiling that modulates the light according to the day and night levels outdoors. More exposure to natural light is also an added benefit of the trend to facilitate safe wandering in outdoor enclosures. Gardens and terraces, greenhouses, and courtyards—on the ground or on rooftops—provide more opportunities for residents to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of daylight.”
Rudy on designing nostalgia into senior housing …
“Memory care communities have been … designing new facilities as well as renovating portions of existing facilities with memory retrieval and nostalgia in mind. For example, exterior architecture can help create the feeling of a familiar neighborhood from the days of youth. At [one facility in] Santa Barbara, the architecture of the buildings evokes a bygone era with gables, bracketed overhangs, trellises with climbing plants, and a large front porch. In terms of interior design elements, its memory care facility will have fireplaces and country-style kitchens in the common areas.”
Rudy on health lifestyles for seniors …
“The trend toward creating a healthy lifestyle for seniors in both independent and assisted living communities continues and has gained momentum. A greater understanding of how people benefit from social connections, exercise, nutrition, and time spent outdoors has helped to shape every aspect of today’s senior living environments. In upscale communities with greater expectations of amenities and a high standard of living, there is an even more varied menu of choices.”