Monday, December 5, 2016

Tomorrow Always Brings New Opportunities!

Tomorrow always brings new opportunities! The question is, will you still be standing or in a position to take advantage of them? Last Thursday was a rough day for me in that I attended an auction to buy a piece of commercial property that I had a personal interest in. My father had owned this property and as a child, I had even lived there for a few years. At the time it was a motel named West-Acres, it was the kind of place you see in the movies with little white cabins sitting along the road waiting for tired travelers needing a room for the night. This was before the interstate system was finished and people drove across America through its cities and towns. We lived in an area behind the office where the front desk was located.

27 Modern Cabins - Individual Showers - Furnace Heat - Open Year 'Round
My father bought the motel around 1962 after the bank foreclosed on his life's dream, a modern new hotel praised as the finest in the city. After spending years building the project it failed and he was forced out. After that, he worked nights at International Harvester and ran the motel during the day. My mother and us kids manned the switchboard and ran the office when he was working his other job. Within a few years, he opened a restaurant next to the office and we moved further back in the building, later he added two new buildings to what existed.

My brother and I got our first taste of work helping to mow the six-acre lot, cleaning rooms, and trimming the vicious thorn covered barberry bushes that took every opportunity to draw blood. Clearly, in my developing years, the property made a mark on me. One of the more brutal task for a young kid was mixing mortar when the old man was laying the brick on the new buildings. I remember one cold day when we worked under a plastic covered scaffold as snow flurries fell, how he tolerated all our complaining and whining I will never know. Sadly, this turned out to be the reason I tended not to force my children into more forced labor as they grew up, this is one of my bigger regrets. I have become a firm believer that making a child do hard work builds character.

Moving forward with this story, the property has long ceased to function as a hotel, land at the back was sold off, cabins were torn down, and a menagerie of businesses and storage units replaced its role of providing shelter as people demanded more amenities than it could provide. Also gone was the old weeping willow tree that provided the reed like switches that left welts on the back of our legs when we were caught up to no good and doing the things youngsters do. The threat of a lashing proved a strong incentive not to step out of line until we learned the threat was often worse than the actual pain.

The owners had allowed this particular piece of property to fall into disrepair and it was politely referred to by the auctioneer as distressed. To say it was a "project" was a bit of an understatement, after years of having several utility meters not used they were pulled, several doors would no longer close and a water leak long ago in one of the buildings had damaged walls, ceilings, and floors leaving them covered in mold. Full of junk it was no bowl of cherries and represented a negative cash flow project that would require both a great deal of time and work as well as a lot of money to set right.

Before I go any further with this story I would like to made it clear I'm not a big fan of auctions because they present too many variables when it comes to pricing. My thoughts on auctions can generally be summed up as "neither a seller nor buyer would I be." More often than not if my feet were held to a fire I would be a buyer but only if I did not value my time and enjoyed spending countless hours hanging out until the right moment arrived. Pricing a purchase on the spur of the moment without complete knowledge of what you are buying is seldom wise. The fact is competition at an auction tends to bring out the animal spirits in many people. This coupled with the fact that a fool and their money are soon parted joins together to form a dangerous combination.

So, in summary, while disappointed that I was not able to purchase the property at my price the regret flows more from the time spent or wasted performing due diligence on a failed effort rather than from an actual feeling of losing a precious gem. When faced with not completing your mission, disheartened, or saddened I find it is best to chalk it up to fate and the idea it was not to be. It is usually a good idea to keep your powder dry. As an investor and businessman, it is best to consider such things as a mental exercise and practice for something better down the road and take solace in the fact you still have your money and probably avoided another mistake on the journey we call life.

No comments:

Post a Comment