September 25, 2010
There are many ways to achieve success. Recently, I had written about the wisest person I knew, my Uncle Les. He is also one of the most successful people that I know. He started his apartment rental business with little more than a hammer and his own two hands. He explained to me how, through smart planning, hard work, and determination he achieved his success.
In the late 1950s Les didn’t have much. However, he knew opportunity when he saw it. When house prices were extremely low he borrowed money from the local credit union to purchase his first rental unit. It was an old mansion that had fallen into disrepair, but this didn’t bother him. He had learned the skills to repair houses in his youth. Even though he had the one rental unit, it was not going to be enough for him to make any sizable profit. Using his carpentry skills he found a way to reorganize the floor plan of the old mansion and turn it into a 4 unit apartment building. He was a thrifty person and was able to do the work relatively cheaply with materials that were already on site or that he paid very little for. His smart planning that turned the old mansion into 4 units quadrupled his earning potential for that building.
Even though he had done well on the first investment, he realized he would have to do more and work harder to ensure even greater success. He found other properties that he could rework in the same way he did the old mansion. He worked long hours every day and even on the weekends. His hard work paid off, he had 6 buildings that he had converted into multiplex units. There was only one problem; he had 6 mortgages at one time that he was paying on.
Determined not to let all of his hard work go to waste, he stopped purchasing properties for awhile and used the income from the rentals to pay on the mortgages. Even though he had a full time job and the money from the rentals coming in, he felt the mortgages were not getting paid off fast enough. Therefore, he decided to take on another full time job. This made a total of 80 hours per week that he was working, as well as any upkeep that he needed to tend to on the buildings that he now owned. Determined to make his investments work out, he put almost every bit of extra money that he earned into paying off those mortgages. It worked; after 8 years of working two jobs he had those buildings paid off and owned them free and clear.
However, this is not the end of the story. After he had all of his buildings paid off, he used the profit from them to invest in even more properties. He carefully planned out each purchase and the work that would be involved with the renovation of the building he was buying. As a result of his hard work and determination, he came to own over 50 rental units. Les has long since retired now, and in my conversation with him about this essay he told me, “Wherever you can get the most for your money, invest it there��? (Schumacher). It’s very simplistic but sound advice. He is the one who got 4 units from the purchase of one to start his business. That is what I call following your own advice.
Schumacher, Leslie. Personal interview. 25 September 2010