Robert Ufer graduated from Ann Arbor High School in 1967. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Yale University (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, with honors and exceptional distinction in economics) in 1971, and a law degree from Harvard University in 1974.
Practice of Law
Bob joined the Detroit firm of Dickinson, Wright (“DW”) in 1974 and became a partner in 1981, specializing in the representation of closely-held corporations, real estate and commercial litigation. Earlier on, he also practiced sports law and environmental law. In November, 1983, Bob became the first attorney in the history of Dickinson Wright to argue a case before the Supreme Court of the United States. Case No. 82‑960, NLRA v. City Disposal Systems, Inc., involved the NLRA protections for individual employees asserting rights under a union contract. In 1984, he left DW with Tony Spaniola to develop his practice in a more entrepreneurial setting. Bob and Tony founded their own firm in 1987, and Bob is still a managing member of Ufer, Spaniola & Frost, P.C. (the “Firm”).
While remaining of counsel to the Firm, Bob left the full-time practice of law in 1994 to become President, CEO and Commissioner of the International Hockey League (“IHL”), which was a “triple A” minor league for professional hockey in the United States and Canada. He served in that capacity until 1998. This experience provided valuable insights into unconventional business structures.
In 2000, Bob joined with two other member owners to form Service Brands International, LLC (“SBI”) located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and also purchased stock ownership interest in Molly Maid, Inc. (“Molly Maid”). Bob served as president of SBI from its inception until early 2009, when he was appointed Co-Chairman. Building on Molly Maid’s success and experience, SBI developed additional service business, franchise concepts, and provided hundreds of people with the opportunity to realize their dream of owning their own business(es). The SBI family of companies ultimately included Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman International, L.L.C. (“Mr. Handyman”), ProTect Painters International, L.L.C. (“ProTect”), Certified Restoration DryCleaning Network, LLC (“CRDN”), Ductz International, L.L.C. (“Ductz”) and 1-800-DryClean, LLC (“1‑800‑DryClean”).
Bob played an integral role in the development and ultimate sale of the CRDN, Ductz and 1-800-DryClean franchise concepts. Bob was Chairman of CRDN from the time it was incorporated in May, 2001 until January 2008, when it had grown into a nationwide business system with over 125 franchises and sales exceeding $50 million; in January 2008, CRDN was sold to one of the other owners. Bob was the CEO of Ductz, which was formed in May, 2004 and helped grow the system until July, 2007, when it was sold to its largest commercial customer. Over this 3‑year period of time, Ductz became the largest air duct cleaning/air quality franchise system in the country with over 100 franchise businesses in operation. In 2012, SBI sold 1‑800-DryClean, which was a home, pickup and delivery cleaning business with ±78 franchisees.
As of June, 2015, SBI, Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman and ProTect comprised approximately 750 franchise business territories, with systems-wide consumer sales in excess of $260 million in 2014, and sales of over $300 million in 2015. On June 12, 2015, SBI was sold to a strategic purchaser, which owned other service franchise concepts.
Bob is presently a minority owner in PuroSystems, LLC (“Puro”), a restoration fire and water cleanup franchise concept. In 2007, he and his SBI partners together purchased a 50% ownership interest in Puro; then in September, 2015, 80.1% of the company sold.
Software Development Company
Since 2011, Bob has worked with Roger Rupp, the founding owner of The Solutions Group, Inc. (“TSG”), and became an owner, officer and director in 2012. TSG is a Michigan software development company, which creates and owns its own modular systems that can be reconfigured to meet individual customer needs in the variable data printing industry.
Multi-tainment™ Recreational Center
Presently Bob is the managing director and majority owner of CLAA, a Michigan LLC, and helped direct the multi-million dollar renovation of Colonial Lanes in Ann Arbor, transforming it from a 55 year-old bowling center, to “Revel & Roll”, a “multi-tainment™” center (“R&R”) at 1950 South Industrial Highway. R&R now includes not only traditional bowling, but also executive suite bowling and boardroom facilities, state-of-the-art arcade games with redemption prizes, pool, table shuffleboard, and other games. It has the largest indoor video wall screen in southeast Michigan, measuring over 30 feet in length, and 11 feet high, and R&R has developed a gourmet restaurant as part of its overall business concept.
New Self Storage Facility in Bradenton, Florida
Bob is currently one of the original owners of Advance Self Storage, LLC, which is fully permitted and now constructing a ±78,000 square foot self storage, single story, climate-controlled facility in Bradenton, Florida, with ±900 storage units.
Commercial Real Estate Ventures
Throughout his career Bob has also been personally involved in commercial real estate acquisitions and management in and around Ann Arbor, Michigan. For example, in 2013, he spearheaded bringing Lucky’s Market to Ann Arbor as a new lessee. Bob has also been involved in commercial real estate and apartment investments in Arizona, California and Florida.
For the past ±10 years, Bob has served on the Advisory Board of Horizons-Upward Bound (HUB), which brings inner-city, high school students to the Cranbrook campus in Bloomfield Hills every other Saturday during the school year, and for six weeks in the summer, for college preparatory courses and personal growth experiences.
In 2017, Bob and Tim Wilson recognized the challenges and unfairness existing in the Ypsilanti Community School District. To help provide every child in the Ypsilanti/Willow Run community with a reasonable opportunity for success, Bob and Tim Wilson co-founded Washtenaw Promise (“WP”), a 501(c)(3) Michigan non-profit, community oriented corporation. WP has identified five (5) major goals, and is initially focusing on the first of these goals: preschool education. Further details regarding WP are available on their website: www.washtenawpromise.org.
Bob also regularly donates to numerous local charities, including City Year, Grace Centers of Hope, and the Ann Arbor YMCA, all of which help young people (and others) recognize and realize their potential.