Born and raised in a family immersed in the industry, entrepreneur and investor Jarod Machinga has been involved with construction projects his entire adult life. He formally ventured into the field in the 1990s as a college student while pursuing a BS in Engineering Science from the College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College). Unable to afford off-campus housing, Machinga purchased his first investment property: a fixer-upper which he renovated himself, later renting it out.
As the years passed, Machinga continued buying houses, eventually outgrowing the residential market. Soon after, he widened his scope by taking the leap to form his own businesses. Now, he is the owner and operator of JAMAC, JAMAC Construction, JAMAC Electric, and JAMAC Plumbing. In addition to these ventures, Machinga also manages numerous real estate investments.
Where did the idea for JAMAC come from?
I was born into a construction family and have been doing some form of construction for as long as I can remember. I did not plan to open a company – it was a natural evolution of the work I was doing. I couldn’t afford off-campus housing in college. So, I decided to buy a fixer-upper house that I could renovate myself and rent to my friends (other college students). After a lot of shopping around and refusal by several real estate agents to work with me due to my age, I finally found a house that would work for me. The next obstacle was to get money for a down payment and obtain a reasonable mortgage. I had nobody that could co-sign for me nor did I have any money of my own. With a lot of persistence and determination, I was able to secure a $15,000 loan at 10% interest and was able to obtain a mortgage. I lived in that house for five years and continued to rent it for another 20 years paying the mortgage payments with only the proceeds from the rent.
I continued buying houses until I could no longer do it as a side business. Then came some commercial real estate investments. The JAMAC businesses were formed as a natural evolution of my real estate projects.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day for me is anything but typical. I own numerous real estate investments and several companies. I could be planning the next purchase, designing a new project on an existing house, renovating a property, working on a customer’s house, making repairs on a rental property and/or continuing my education. More likely than not, my day is filled with a combination of the above and other things I didn’t plan to accomplish that day! I always seem to be categorizing and prioritizing my day to be the most productive it can be.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life by just doing them. I know that sounds a little crazy, but over the years I’ve heard so many people tell me how they were going to do this or that, but actually never did. When I want to do something or some project, I just do it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
It’s not a trend, but what excites me is the always-changing construction world. There are always new and innovative new projects. Since I do the work on my own properties, I love to try new and innovative things. It’s one of the best aspects about doing the work on my own investments. I can try new things and experiment without the issues and hassles of working with customers who may not understand my vision.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I work very hard. Although many people think the things I do seem easy, it’s only because I make them look easy by planning, executing, modifying and not complaining when things don’t go as planned. I am always thinking and working toward my goals whether it be planning, physically doing the work or furthering my education.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Continue to work hard and further your education.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You can do it. I know it’s simple, but so many people doubt themselves or refuse to put themselves in a position to succeed.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Work hard and continue to move forward, even if you are sometimes moving backwards.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Move forward and never stop. Again, if you want to grow your business, keep pushing forward, even when it gets really, really hard.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It was my 12th house. I bought a house in Colorado to renovate. I had done the same thing 11 other times in New Jersey. What’s the difference – 2,000 miles away. I actually bought all the materials in New Jersey and had them shipped out to Colorado on 18-wheeler trucks. Once there, I flew 10 people (family and friends) out to build the house. What I realized relatively early on was that I designed and was building a house I couldn’t afford to keep and it wasn’t going to be worth the money I was putting into it. I knew this before I was finished. I actually put it on the market knowing I still had to put another $100,000 into it that I couldn’t get back.
I had to make a conscious decision to continue with the house even though I was going to lose some money because if I didn’t, I would lose all my money. What went wrong? I was still relatively young, and I thought that anytime you renovated something and built something nice, it should be worth more. Although it was, I didn’t know the area. If I would have done nothing to the existing house, I would have doubled my money in two years because that is how the economy and market was moving. The house I built was too expensive for the market and took several years to catch up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s now worth 3 times the cost I put into it, I just wasn’t the beneficiary of that increase in value. What I learned was just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that’s what it needs. You have to look at as many factors you can to make the most informed decision possible.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there is a way to make reliable telecommunication services more affordable, and when that happens whoever does it will find success.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I like to do nice things for people. Some of the best spent money is simply picking up Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, or sending flowers. All of these items generally don’t cost a lot of money, however; to me, it’s some of the best spent money seeing people smile.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Besides Microsoft Office, I use Autocad. Autocad is a computer drawing program that I use to draw my houses and renovation projects. I can usually see the finished projects in my head before I create them, however; most people can’t do that. Autocad is a great tool to help me communicate what I’m thinking to others.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books over the years for my own personal satisfaction so you would think I should have a book in mind to spew great wisdom. However, I read them to get out of my own head and take a break from always thinking. You should read what makes you happy, whether it’s a self-help book, a biography or action-based crime novel.
What is your favorite quote?
I have numerous favorite quotes that I spew out daily. I never know when they will come out and they are often off-color. The one that comes to mind is when I hit my finger with a hammer, “oh $%&#!
● Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that something is what needs to be done.
● Work hard and continue to move forward, even if you are sometimes moving backwards.
● If there is no path laid out for you, forge your own.
● Read what makes you happy.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.