I don’t let “no’s” hold me back
Ruel M. Hamilton is the CEO and founder of Dallas-based AmeriSouth Realty, a real estate investment company that specializes in the ownership, development and acquisition of multi-family projects within the affordable housing industry. He primarily owns and operates Class C multi-family apartment communities, including some that were developed using Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC’s). Hamilton believes that keeping and maintaining older properties is the key to fixing the affordable housing crisis. Accordingly, he pays close attention to bringing aged, crime ridden or poverty stricken housing back to life with rehabilitation and revitalization.
AmeriSouth Realty came to fruition in 1987 after the unexpected collapse of the savings and loan industry in Texas. Hamilton originally founded the company to provide fee management for commercial and multi-family properties owned by various savings and loans, FDIC and RTC agencies; however, the housing crisis presented more lucrative and fulfilling opportunities. He shifted focus in 1994 and began to purchase, redevelop and provide quality housing to low-income families. Currently, he owns and operates 2,500 multi-family units in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but overall has owned and rehabbed 10,000 total units in Texas.
“Everyone deserves a good place to live, despite their income level,” explained Hamilton. “When we are able to revitalize an aging apartment complex we are also providing a platform for helping our residents change their lives in a positive way which eventually spreads through the community.”
Where did the idea for AmeriSouth come from?
I started the business as a fee property management company to manage properties for a number of failed savings and loans and banks. Our customers would have been a government entity, FDIC etc and or some of the new institutions that took over assets from the institution failures.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
It consists of looking at reports in the morning and making phone calls and then out in the field at properties in the afternoon.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Generally it comes from brainstorming and then dreaming up a solution to a problem. I then get with staff and tell them what I want to do. I don’t have much direct contact with the day to day operations. I deal with acquisitions, financing and new programs we want to implement.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The urbanization of the large cities is happening again. Many people of the younger generation are wanting to move back into the city core, and also a larger percentage of renter’s and the lower income levels.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t let “no’s” hold me back. I also don’t have the typical investor perspective for real estate. Most typically buy, build and flip. We buy every property and make the assumption we will never sell it.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Working as a roofer. I installed roofs the summer after I graduated from high school. By the time the summer was over my thumbs and fingers had been destroyed. Back then we put the shingles on using hammers and nails (not the automated nail guns/staplers of today.) I learned that hard work definitely pays off.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t change a thing.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I don’t look for conventional answers, which includes paying employees more than others and then serving the employees. It’s my job to take care of them and then they will take care of me.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Taking more risk. When acquiring properties typical investors will enter into a contract which has some sort of due diligence period to review the property before putting any money at risk. We have always put money at risk up front. This allows us to get buyers attention and get better deals on our buys.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I gave an employee recently $100 so he could take his family to the Texas state fair. His children had been begging him to go and he had already told them they couldn’t afford it this year. They had a wonderful time.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We use OneSite for our property management software. It is web based. Our accounting software is Timberline which is actually installed on our own servers.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Evicted” by Matthew Desmond. It gives you a good insight about life for families either in or on the edge of poverty.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Senator Elizabeth Warren. Her empathy for people of lower incomes and their plight dealing with the financial system is inspirational.
AmeriSouth Realty on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/amerisouth-realty
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.