Peter Bubel – Founder and Managing member of PANA Rentals

Don’t take shortcuts in life. Do the work; do things the right way.

Peter Bubel is the founder and managing member of PANA Rentals, a family-owned and operated property management and real estate company serving Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Peter first had the idea to found PANA Rentals when he saw a gap in the market that needed to be filled. Having lived and worked in Reading, Pa. for many years near the Berks branch campus of Penn State University, Peter saw an opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream while helping out the members of his community. An alum of Penn State himself, Peter saw the growing number of students who were in need of proper housing for school, and he decided to combine that with a passion for real estate investment to provide a needed service. In 1989, he invested in his first property, and from there he built his property management business.

In the 18 years since, Peter Bubel and his family have built PANA Rentals into the premium source for rental properties throughout the Reading area. The name PANA Rentals is a combination of the first letter of each name in the Bubel family: Peter, his wife Anita, and their two daughters Nina and Alyssa. Aside from property rental, one of Peter’s favorite aspects of his business is getting to help tenants and property owners like himself navigate through the world of renting and managing real estate. His extensive background and education in finance and management give him keen insight into property investing, and his history in human resources allows him to better serve his tenants and help foster relationships between other landlords and their tenants.

Both in and out of work, Peter Bubel is a community-minded man who is eager to help others succeed. He uses the knowledge he gained earning a degree in Finance from PSU and his MBA in Financial Management from St. Joseph’s University to present seminars to the Berks County Chamber of Commerce. Peter has held a seat on numerous housing coalitions and various committees like the Berks Minority Development Council (MINDCO), the Penn State Berks Housing Advisory task force, and the Reading-Berks Habitat for Humanity, where he currently serves as vice president.

Where did the idea for PANA Rentals come from?

As a real estate investor, I learned many life lessons about managing properties for myself. Then, when a fellow real estate owner asked me to help manage their properties, I realized there was a tremendous need for experienced and knowledgeable property managers. I began to manage their properties with the personal philosophy that I would take care of their properties the same way I take care of mine. We are investors first; we think like investors and manage like investors. What I bring to the table that other realtor-type property managers don’t is that they are more interested in their commission than their business and don’t treat the properties they manage as though they were their own.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I start every day at 6:00 am sharp with a cup of coffee in one hand as I look over emails. I’m a firm believer in organization, so I start every day by crafting a To-Do list of the things I need to do that day. I write down each task, complete it, then cross it off. It helps me keep my day organized so that I get everything done that I need to do.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The ever expanding world of technology. I look back at how I did things years ago and laugh. Today, with all of the new technology that wasn’t even in the realm of existence 10 or 15 years ago, I am able to be much more productive than I ever imagined possible.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Keeping myself organized. I cannot possibly stress this enough. Running any sort of business requires management of a lot of things, like accounting, finances, workers, projects, etc. Time is a precious resource, and you only get 24 hours in a day. You need to manage that time wisely. Being organized and keeping things in order makes you more time efficient and helps to prioritize items that need to be accomplished each day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself to do things the right way the first time. Don’t take shortcuts in life. Do the work; do things the right way. Integrity matters, so don’t sell yourself short by taking the easy way out.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I continually educate myself and cannot recommend strongly enough that others do the same. You are never done learning in life, regardless of how much you think you already know. All entrepreneurs need a solid, basic education. It’s important to understand how things work and, while you do not need to be an expert in everything, you should realize that you need experts to help you with some of the complexities of business. Ask questions. Do your research. Figure out how things work for yourself, and never stop learning.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

I’ve found that, more than anything, persistence pays off. If you make a long-term plan for your future, commit to it. I have seen investors come and go in search of making money in real estate. The ones who are successful are the ones who start off slow and tough it out through the hard times and challenges. They’re successful because, after dealing with tough tenants, legal action, or an unpleasant situation, they can still see the positive rewards in this business. I find it important to be human. Don’t be afraid to see things from another’s perspective so you can look for mutual win-win situations.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Multi-level marketing companies. I tried several different MLM ideas, but they all seemed to fizzle out after time. Sometimes when something seems too good to be true, it’s because it really is. When it comes to business, stick to what you know.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently purchased a standing desk, and it was one of the best decisions that I ever made. I was tired of sitting all day in an office chair for extended periods of time. With my new standing desk, I can stay on my feet and stay alert all day.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

The most beneficial piece of software that I use is the bill pay software from my bank. I deal with so many transactions that if I had to write out checks by hand to pay for services, mortgages, utility bills, etc., I would spend an entire day each month doing just that. Online bill pay makes it convenient for me to handle all of the financial aspects of the job without all of the paper. I also think that Quickbooks for accounting is a great business tool. Business owners need to be able to know from week to week where they stand financially, all the accounts receivable and accounts payable they’re managing, sales and income trends, and more. Quickbooks really allows you to stay on top of everything.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Without a doubt, the book I’d recommend is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. I know all of them by heart! Being proactive is #1; success does not fall on your lap, so you need to be proactive. Make inquiries, do your research, and call and email the necessary people. Do not be reactive in life. Always be proactive!

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is the same as my favorite Bible verse. Micah 6:8; Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk humbly. I think that it serves as a wonderful and constant reminder of the way we should live our lives.

Key Learnings

  • Don’t take shortcuts in life. Do the work; do things the right way.
  • I’ve found that, more than anything, persistence pays off. If you make a long-term plan for your future, commit to it.
  • Sometimes when something seems too good to be true, it’s because it really is. When it comes to business, stick to what you know.