Kip Lewis has been interested in business and real estate investing for most of his adult life. After graduating from McCoy College of Business at Texas State University in the late 1980s, Lewis completed his first real estate transaction just a few years later.
With $2,000 of personal savings, Kip Lewis invested in a recreational vehicle and motorhome (RV/MH) park in Round Rock, Texas, a suburb of Austin. The La Frontiera RV/MH development spanned 35 acres. Kip Lewis owned the development for years before selling it to the largest real estate investment trust (REIT) in the United States.
During his years of ownership, Lewis expanded the RV/MH park to 60 acres capable of supporting 800 camping sites. The purchase of this property also coincided with the launch of his company, Lewis Investments. From 1992 to 1997, Kip Lewis purchased additional property in the communities of Georgetown and Pflugerville. The properties contained a combined total of 650 sites. He also sold them to the country’s largest REIT.
Kip Lewis Serves on the Downtown Round Rock Business Owners Association
Lewis became interested in historic preservation shortly after moving into his new office in downtown Round Rock in 1997. He became president of the business owner’s association within a few years, a group that also maintained a strong interest in historic preservation. Kip Lewis routinely worked with architects, engineers, fellow business owners in Round Rock, and other interested parties to create plans to revitalize the downtown Round Rock area.
Lewis Investments Today
Lewis Investments will mark a big milestone in 2022 when it celebrates 30 years in business. Based in Round Rock for the past 24 years, Lewis Investments has earned the trust of the community and its clients.
Kip Lewis has purchased and revitalized 45,000 square feet of commercial properties in downtown Round Rock to fulfill his own commitment to historic preservation. One of his most popular investments was the renovation of Main Street Grill Restaurant in 1999. The restaurant served as a hub to the local, national, and international business community until it closed in 2017.
Kip Lewis expects the highest quality from his contractors, and they reward his trust by developing structurally sound and attractive office complexes, retail ventures, and residential rental properties among several other types of projects. Employees of Lewis Investment also respect and work hard for Kip, something he recently reward by raising the starting salary for entry-level administrative support workers to $15.00 per hour.
Kip Lewis Recently Closed $17 Million Dollar Mortgage Refinance Deal
Before the coronavirus pandemic struck in early 2020, Kip Lewis was searching for a financial partner to refinance the mortgage on his three largest properties. Like thousands of other business professionals, he had to put the deal on hold due to coronavirus containment efforts.
Although unplanned, the pause in closing the deal worked in his favor. Lewis landed a better deal with a Fortune 500 Company called JLL than he would have had he closed the deal he was considering with them before the pandemic. The agreement with JLL provided Lewis with a non-recourse loan with a 10-year fixed interest rate. JLL also offered Kip Lewis a T-bill at a historically low interest rate of 2.77 percent.
Lewis Investments Gives Back to the Community
As a Texas native and someone who has worked in the Austin metropolitan area for his entire career, Kip Lewis and his employees serve people in the community whenever they can. Lewis has a special interest in directing resources towards solving the homelessness crisis in Austin and other cities in the Central Texas area.
Where did the idea for Lewis Investments come from?
The roots of the idea came from my younger years as a kid/entrepreneur. I discovered I could create businesses and make money. Mowing lawns, selling firewood, etc. I worked on my own and saved money and was curious how to make more. I recall riding my bike to the local Savings and Loan and said I have $600 in cash and want to invest it. This was during the Jimmy Carter area of high interest rates. That CD paid 15.5% interest. I quickly became interested in learning how to invest and earn a rate of return. As I grew older and had many different jobs thru school and after college, I quickly realized that working for someone else was not in my DNA. While working for a local title company in my early 20’s I was interested in Commercial Real Estate and began searching for properties. I had met other young businessmen like myself and began networking and learning from others on how deals were put together. I discovered a deal that seemed interesting as it was being sold with seller financing and had enough possibility of cash flow that could allow me to quit my job and start pursuing my own deals. Upon finding an investor to put down the required down payment, I was able to purchase the property. Lewis Investments created the day I purchased this property. I took over the manager and maintenance role to save money and worked 7am-7pm daily to ensure my success and take care of my new family which I had my first son this same month my business started. Lewis Investments was created in the hopes of acquiring distressed real estate or under-valued real estate. This first acquisition was the beginning of that dream.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Coffee, newspaper and financial news channel is my wake up. I often get a Peloton workout in before heading to the office. I typically get to office at 8:00, review emails, organize my yellow pad notes, check in with staff and begin tackling each project. Currently a great deal of time is spent developing new real estate projects. The daily routine this requires the following: hiring engineers and architects and coordination of projects, working thru City development processes, and attending P&Z and Council Meetings, preparing and processing financing of the projects with bank relationships, communicating with staff to help coordinate the projects, reviewing and acquiring properties with real estate brokers, working with a General Contractor to prepare cost estimates and or in process construction projects. The remainder of the time is overseeing the properties we own and manage, which consists of over 1200 tenants. My time is best spent evaluating and scouting new investments.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When I see an opportunity or have an idea I am excited about, I evaluate and process continually until I feel comfortable with pursuing the ides, to consider taking to the next step. I do my best to remove emotion from the equation to make a sensible decision to act. Evaluate risk/reward then trust my instincts. The final check is gut instinct, which I have learned to listen to over the years.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The RV Industry. With skyrocketing home prices, owning and living in an RV has become a very popular alternative to housing. A single person or couple can buy a new RV for under a $100,000 which is extremely nice and comfortable. The RV owner is not required to pay property taxes and has a very low cost of housing, plus the ability to quickly relocate if necessary.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Remaining calm during the turbulent moments. I learned early in my career that becoming angry, defensive, etc. are very counterproductive to running a business and making wise decisions when the heat is on. I learned that with patience and a little time and effort, the right answer will come my way.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Get educated. I learned I lacked a great deal of skills as I began to grow my business and had to learn the hard way thru the school of hard knocks. That served me well, but I would definitely take advantage of all educational opportunities as my younger self.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Everyone needs therapy. Every human needs to take care of their mental health as much as we need to take care of our physical health. I have grown stronger as a father, business owner and friend by taking time to work out my brain as much I work out in a gym.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I failed over and over as I began my career. I would pursue deal I knew to be outstanding opportunities. With little or no money to my name, I had to pass on so many deals for the lack of ability to get the deal closed. Each failure proved to be a success, as I learned over and over after each deal, the reason why I wasn’t successful. I took the time to review my mistakes until I eventually solved the issues blocking my success. Facing the fear of failure and using it as a motivator to grow would be one of my top recommendations. Block out the noise of others not believing in you, block out the negative thoughts, and press forward, the answers and reward will come if you don’t give up.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I learned very early on to value banking relationships. When I discovered the value of forming long term relationships my local bankers and forming lifelong friendships, I discovered one of the keys to my success. These relationships to this day have been one of the most valuable investments I have made over 30 years.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I allowed myself to be conned by a businessman in a business area that I had no expertise in. I didn’t listen to my gut, which was telling me “This is too good to be true.” I also didn’t gain the knowledge necessary to understand the investment. I lost every penny I invested. I didn’t blame others, I blamed myself and made a commitment to not invest in any business outside of my area of expertise, unless I was willing to take a risk to lose it all. In 30 years, I have never had a losing real estate investment. Knock on wood.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Build a RV Park. Call me I will consult.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I can’t say enough good things about Rent Manager, it’s the best in the business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis. Any book by James Hollis
What is your favorite quote?
Mark Twain: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see” “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”
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.