Jeff "Ole" Olson finalizes building project

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Jeff "Ole" Olson's 5 Star Realty and Ole's ATM's have recently moved to a new location on Highway 52 in Guttenberg. From left are Danny Ganahl, Jeff "Ole" Olson, Ashley Klink and Aaron "Reggie" Niehaus. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Successful businessman and entrepreneur Jeff "Ole" Olson has recently finalized his latest building project and moved into what he refers to as his "permanent location" on Highway 52 in Guttenberg. 

Olson, former owner of Landmark Novelties, took early retirement from the company in 2005. "I have been a self-employed entrepreneur since 1981. My father, who was an insightful business executive, was my inspiration. My sister and I were raised to take chances – it hasn't always worked out," he smiled.

Olson's business ventures

Olson founded Ole's ATM business, originally located at 516 S. River Park Drive, in January 2006. He expanded the business to include credit card processing in 2008.

Olson explained, "The two businesses mirror one another. It just made sense to combine the two entities." 

The Olsons and Knockels purchased the Dam Bar in 2008, and owned the establishment until its sale in 2018. "During the 10 years of ownership we added the bar's deck, overlooking the Mississippi River, and remodeled the interior of the bar twice," he said.

In 2011 Olson joined Parker Realty as an independent real estate contractor. He remained with Parker Realty for three years. 

Olson told The Press, "In March 2012 I purchased the building located at 1418 South Highway 52 from Troy Mizell. I relocated my ATM and credit card processing business to that location, and shared the office space with Services Unlimited. Their rapidly-growing company needed additional space, so I voluntarily left that location and relocated to 1026 South Fifth Lane." He added, "It was at that time, 2014, I decided to venture out and established Ole's 5 Star Realty. I remodeled the space and put in carpeting." 

In July 2015 the forward-thinking businessman purchased the former Village Green Floral and Gift Shop. "I purchased the Village Green, gutted and totally remodeled the building. The enlarged space accommodated Farm Bureau Insurance; Community Savings Bank; Neylan Law Firm, and my two businesses," he explained.  

Permanent location

Olson's newest building project began in March 2019.  "We bought the old Stade gas station across the street, and sold the former Village Green building to Community Savings Bank," he said.

The newly-built spacious facility is now home to Ole's 5 Star Realty; Ole's ATM's; Farm Bureau Insurance; The Me I Want to Be, and Friday Trucking. The new location at 431 S. Highway 52 is his fifth since moving his family and business to  Guttenberg. 

"An office space is still available  for anyone interested in relocating or opening up a business. Rental costs include all utilities and a shared receptionist," he commented.  

Ole's 5 Star Realty

Olson has expanded his 5 Star Realty to include offices in Elkader, Vinton and Coralville. "My daughter, Tyra Olson-McAbee, is the head broker for my Coralville office," he remarked. 

Olson described his educational philosophy — "I learned from the school of hard knocks, and the United States Navy. I did attend college for one year at NICC for accounting."

Olson's combined businesses employ 14 people, 12 of them as independent contractors. 

Aaron "Reggie" Niehaus is an employee of Ole's ATM's and Ole's 5 Star Realty. 

Ashley Klink of Elkader is the accounts executive and maintains all the listings for the agency's website, in addition to her duties as the front desk secretary for the combined businesses. Danny Ganahl is Olson's broker in charge.

Danny Ganahl

Danny Ganahl graduated from Clayton Ridge School in 2003. He attended Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids for two years, studying golf course and turf Management. He lived in southwest Florida for six-and-a-half years, playing professional golf. 

He moved back to Guttenberg in 2013 and obtained his real estate license in 2014. In 2017 Ganahl upgraded to a broker's license. 

Ganahl explained, "In Iowa, everyone starts out as a sales agent. As an agent you work under a licensed broker, and then you can further your education to become a broker. At that point, brokers can do closings. If an agent does anything wrong, by Iowa Law, the broker takes the fall."

Ganahl handles all the closings for the Guttenberg and Elkader locations. "I am a very detail-oriented person. I like to do the closings myself. If you have too many people involved there is an opportunity for errors. You are just asking for trouble. Handling our own closings passes on the savings to the customer and provides them with better service," he noted.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

One of the biggest advantages of choosing Ole's 5 Star Realty is their Multiple Listing Service (MLS). 

An MLS is a service used by a group of real estate brokers. They band together to create an MLS that allows each of them to see one another's listings.

Olson and Ganahl explained the process, "When you list your property with our agency, the listing automatically is viewed by close to a thousand agents in the Dubuque area, giving it more exposure." They continued, "There is no additional cost to the seller for this service. The real estate agents work together to sell your property. We are the only independent brokerage that we know of that belongs to all four MLS listing sites, which include Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Waterloo. Our branch locations work with the MLS closest to their main office. The service is costly to our company, but for our customers it is crucial."

Hometown pride

Olson commented, "I am proud to call Guttenberg my home. I have traveled all over the state of Iowa and there is no community as beautiful as Guttenberg. I take pride in investing in our community." 

He brought to mind, "I remember in 2003, when I drove into Guttenberg it looked pretty bleak. Since that time, the community has built a state-of-the-art swimming pool and made improvement with directional signage, in addition to the two buildings I have remodeled and built. Respected regional franchises, Subway, Kwik Star, and Casey’s have invested in our community, adding attraction to Guttenberg.”  He estimated, “I would guess upwards of $20 million dollars have been spent on improvements along the Highway 52 corridor. This proves Guttenberg is a viable community worth investing in.”       

Educating customers

Ganahl stressed, “Overall, the one thing that Ole’s 5 Star Realty strives for is to educate people on the new trends and aspects of real estate from a buyer’s agency.” 

He gave an example. “If you see a piece of property that interests you, but is listed with another realtor, you can contact us and we will look the property over for you, make an assessment, and deal directly with the competing agency.” He continued, “We do not get the whole commission, only a percentage, but we do get the satisfaction of helping our community members. We know that by being up front and educated we can provided the best service for our customers.” 

Olson concluded, “Since its inception Ole’s 5 Star Realty has gone from a one to three million dollar agency to a 15 to 18 million dollars agency in sales for properties sold in Guttenberg. We have had an increase in sales every year. We have a good relationship with everyone we co-opt with, which proves MLS works. We don’t mind sharing the commission. Our fiduciary duty is to the buyer and sellers!”  

For additional information contact Ole’s 5 Star Realty at (563) 252-2747  or 


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