In 1993 my best friend, Eric, and I found a cave in suburban Nashville, Tennessee. Then we found another. And another. When we turned 16 we did all the caves in Nashville and then I started doing caves in Alabama and Georgia. Then Texas. And Indiana. Then Arizona, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Montana, Wyoming and – you get the point. In caving finding untapped locations – caves that on person has ever been to before is the apogee. And though long caves – like Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave – receive marks, deep caves are the measuring bars that young cavers use. And the deeper the better.
At 23 my obsession became to find the deepest cave in the United States. I viewed it as a wholly unattainable goal, but it drove me nonetheless to pursue new caves in a remote mountain range Montana. In 2005 my group found the second deepest limestone cave in the entire country. We made the cover of caving magazines and were the talk of the town. We had come so close to breaking the record – our cave was just 18 feet shy of upsetting #1 – that I felt like my goal had been achieved. If you set about to make $1m in a year but came short at $990,000 – that would feel pretty good, right?
And then we did find the deepest cave in the country and by a large measure. My marginally obtainable goal was entirely obtainable and this became the driving force in the rest of my life. If I could set some stupid high goal – and then achieve it – the world is mine to conquer.
In 2009 I set out to learn business. With $3,000 in my pocket I started a mobile car wash company, Renew Mobile Detailing. The first years were tough and disheartening. I remember flying back into Nashville one December after an amazing caving expedition to Mexico. Looking out the plane window there was snow on the ground and I started crying. I would not get any business with snow on the ground. As the business grew I was forced to learn bookkeeping, how amortization schedules work, schedule K on taxes and all sorts of stuff. But washing cars and managing a car wash business was not my passion and I couldn’t commit to it like I did with caving. I had to find a way out.
I sold that business nearly three years to the day that it was started. I financed part of the sale – which gave me a steady albeit low salary for the next 7 years. Over the next few years I wandered about starting fiddly businesses that went nowhere. Buoyed by my successes with caving and Renew I kept my head in the biz game but didn’t go well. At all. In 2012 I finally started pursuing a distant interest in real estate, but it wasn’t until 2015 that things started to kick into gear.
In 2015 with $13,000 to my name I bought my first rental property. The banks wouldn’t support me so I found a property with owner financing and became a landlord overnight. The year of 2015 was a year of monumental growth – by the end I had raised over $1.4m for new construction projects and started shifting my focus. Towards the end of the year I turned the second good deal of my career – with selling Renew Mobile Detailing being #1. I bought a burned out mobile home. Yes! I owned that property for 63 days and sold it for a $128,134.58 profit. Maybe I could conquer this world of real estate!
In 2016 I bought four rental properties – and 3 of them in quick succession. I learned the money code. The code by which money is borrowed for real estate. With a friend we started a company and by August 2016 we were buying a property a week.