Adam Bazia moved from Poland to Seattle in his twenties hoping to work in the construction industry, but soon realized that most of the jobs he had his eye on required a degree. Refusing to let this stand in his way, Adam attended the University of Washington, where he took classes in business and earned a degree in construction management.
After graduation, he went to work as a superintendent on a government project but soon discovered that working for other people wasn’t for him.
“I decided to leave because I found there were good opportunities to build houses at the time, so I started my own business. Luckily, I started it when the economy was on the rise,” Adam said. “Now anytime I purchase a lot and know I’m not ready to build on it, I know I’m going to build it within an eight-month time frame. But I didn’t know that then, so I risked it a little bit.”
With some good timing and a lot of hard work, Adam’s risk paid off. In 1998, he started his contracting business renovating and eventually investing in multifamily projects.
“I was a builder and then a land developer, then the business cycles redirected me to find a more secure business that created cash flow on a regular basis. That’s how I found the multifamily market,” Adam shared.
Adam’s desire to learn didn’t stop after graduation. In the investing world, he learned by example. Emulating what he saw working for others, he built his own hybrid of contract work and investing.
“I was always seeking more business education here in the United States. Along the way, I would ask, ‘This guy is successful — what’s he doing?’ He’s doing the construction, but at the same time, he’s investing in various areas, like buying a piece of land or buying an older home and renovating it,” Adam said.
This enthusiasm to learn inspired Adam to seek out experienced investors to surround himself with. For investors of all experience levels, it’s essential to associate with people who have the wisdom to impart, who have made mistakes already, and who know how to avoid making them again.
“I choose people who have been in business for a while. They’ve faced certain challenges already; they’ve already figured out how to solve those problems, and that makes their business stronger,” Adam reflected. “Beyond that, honesty and integrity are important, too. I look at what someone is trying to accomplish and what they’ve added to their life that has enabled them to be successful.”
From watching and learning from other investors, Adam knew he had to use his resources and connections wisely.
“I purchased a couple of multifamily buildings. I had some relationships with the bank so I built one fourplex, then another, and designed them so I could sell them as townhomes. In Seattle, small projects were not penciling out,” Adam said. “I was the one that said, ‘Okay, well, I have this resource, so I’m going to utilize it.’”
With the confidence of a solid foundation built on his network, Adam also expressed the importance of another resource: the backup plan.
“I think it’s very, very important to invest money in organizations, and have a system in place where if something happens, there’s always a plan B, C, and D. Because if you call in with a crisis that you can’t solve on your own or you’re not prepared for it, that’s a big deal. You have to be prepared for things,” Adam explained.
Being prepared is a necessity, and it’s just one of many lessons Adam has gleaned over the years. While he’s learned a lot from his colleagues by example and at school, he concedes that knowledge must be followed up with action.
“Working with syndicators, I would say my biggest insight is that knowledge is power, but knowledge without action is nothing.”
About the Author:
Leslie Chunta is a marketing consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in creating dynamic marketing programs and building brands for startups to enterprise organizations. She has worked agency- and client-side with high-growth companies that include Silicon Valley Bank, JPMorgan Chase, SailPoint, EMC, Spanning Cloud Apps, Ashcroft Capital, Netspend, and Universal Studios. www.thelabcollective.com