After moving back to Washington from Wisconsin, I reconnected with an old baseball coach who had started buying & flipping single family homes in the area. I walked through the first house with him and talked about my time in Colorado, then framing experience in Wisconsin, hoping that I could find a way to add value to him. He asked if I had any hand tools, then told me he would pay me hourly to help him with the remodel.
I came to the project eager to work & finally get involved in the real estate investment business, which I had been studying since high school. He was a solo operator at this time, meaning that he bought the houses with his own cash / credit, remodeled the entire house himself, then sold it, hoping for a profit after such a long project. With just a couple years in this business, he had reached a level where he could support himself with these flips but wasn't coming away with enough profit to really grow his business. That's where I figured I could add value!
If you aren't aware, real estate flipping is very popular, almost too popular. This wave of popularity made inexperienced homeowners want to jump in, perform a Pinterest-worthy cosmetic flip, then sell it off for much more than it is worth. For many reasons, this bothered me. I believe quality should always be the priority, and the business model of making the outside look pretty while you hide a poorly built house underneath never appealed to me. This mass of entry-level flippers made it difficult for my ex-coach, now boss / mentor, to scale his business, or so he thought.
Each day I got to learn from him, sometimes new skills, sometimes business advice. I learned how to lay tile, install wood floors, cabinetry, siding, paint, etc. Mind you, I knew how to frame, and was killer at it, but getting to dip my toe into all of these aspects of a project thrilled me! I asked him questions about how he started, how he raised money for the purchase, what he does to budget a remodel, how he rolls profits from a sale into the next project, and so much more! I wanted to learn everything I could about this business, not just how to paint or lay tile.
As with my time framing, I quickly expanded my role from general labor to his main source of productivity & support. He knew I would show up on time, every day, ready to work, while he often times failed to do the same. Up until this point, my experience had been with established companies, never a solo entrepreneur, so this casual attitude about work ate away at me, eventually leading me to move on from his business. I have come to appreciate this work experience, as it revealed my deep reverence for discipline in others, a commitment to perform, and my uncanny ability to strategically assess a business for ways to improve.
I left his business understanding the gift I have for visualizing projects start-to-finish and executing a plan with efficiency. Additionally, I now start to believe that I can perform this real estate business with success, as I've just been shown it is possible to support yourself with such an inefficient model and lack of strategic planning. He taught me everything he could, and I am grateful he gave me the opportunity to learn, but rather than fight to change and improve his business, I decided to once again head out on my own to build this dream of mine.