Phase II: The Framework
When he took the helm at Ryland Homes, Chad inherited a company struggling with inefficient global expansion efforts and fallout from the early-1990s recession. He immediately set about righting the ship by streamlining services, trimming excess costs, divesting from unsuccessful ventures, improving customer satisfaction and promoting brand visibility. Within three years under Chad’s revitalizing leadership, Ryland experienced a miraculous turnaround, emerging from debt to post explosive profits and soaring stock prices.

Such unprecedented success brought with it great personal wealth for the first time in Chad’s life. After he had covered all the bases for his family’s financial security, this lifetime card collector enjoyed the discretionary income and freedom to aggressively ramp up his hobby habits. Obscure 19th-century issues and early-20th-century tobacco and candy classics now competed with the old standbys of postwar Topps as Chad increasingly discovered his inner completist.

No card quest was too daunting, even if it meant waiting years or paying a premium. Often, acquiring that one elusive rarity or previously uncataloged variation even became of paramount pleasure to obtaining a given set’s flagship Hall of Famer. It was the pure thrill of the chase that mattered most—in the same zealous spirit of wide-ranging safari adventurer Teddy Roosevelt, who bagged scarce, unheralded insects and moles as well as big-game status symbols like elephants, hippos and rhinos.

To paraphrase Roosevelt, Chad also walked softly and carried a big stack of cards. He established a steady presence in the Baltimore market and branched out to purchase from national auctions and sales catalogs, but by and large maintained a low profile and remained something of an outlier. Bombast, braggadocio, hobby politics, keeping up with the Joneses—these were never part of Chad’s equation. He merely set out to create a world-class collection on his own terms and in his own way.

This independent streak soon also informed a major life decision, as Chad risked his career trajectory in 2000 to return to the West Coast. Little did he realize, however, that Ryland was willing to relocate their entire corporate headquarters clear across the country rather than lose him. Setting up shop with their fearless leader in California turned out to be a savvy move for Ryland, which managed to crack the Fortune 500 and reach peak annual earnings of $447 million during the imminent housing boom. For the Dreiers, their homecoming ultimately meant fame, fortune, family reunions and fantasies come true.
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