The Real Estate Law Podcast

38 - Commercial Real Estate, Luxury Boat Charters, and Million Dollar Collar With Entrepreneur Rob Kessler

February 15, 2022 Jason Muth + Rory Gill Season 1 Episode 38
The Real Estate Law Podcast
38 - Commercial Real Estate, Luxury Boat Charters, and Million Dollar Collar With Entrepreneur Rob Kessler
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we welcome serial entrepreneur Rob Kessler to the podcast and spend a not insignificant amount of talking talking about apparel.

Wait, isn't this a podcast about real estate law? Or, at the very least, real estate?

It is - but it's also a podcast about good ideas, building business, and what real estate investing can lead to, which is a life of financial freedom, spending your time how YOU want to, and the entrepreneurial spirit.

And that's where we get to with Rob. Early in his career, Rob started with commercial real estate investments, which he parlayed into a multitude of business opportunities that now include apparel and luxury boat charters from Marina Del Ray!

Rob's latest venture is the inventor and co-founder of Million Dollar Collar, a relatively simple solution to fix what his company dubs "placketitis," which is the sinking, wrinkling, and folding of the placket of a casually worn dress shirt.

Rob's sales experience in a number of high dollar industries beyond Real Estate, including Diamonds and Automotive Sales provided a unique blend of backgrounds to transition him into the fashion world.  His ability to look at the world through a different set of lenses than most people lead to his success in every sales job and with both of his own businesses. 

In this episode, we talk about:
-- Being married to a Hollywood stunt woman!
-- Why details and confidence matter
-- Million Dollar Collar and solving an obvious problem that hadn't been solved
-- How selling in relationship-driven businesses differs from e-commerce
-- Why dreaming big is important
-- How Rob's passion for architecture landing him in the real estate world
-- Commercial and residential house hacking
-- Knowing when it is time to pivot to a new idea or business model
-- Managing remote businesses three time zones away
-- Zombies!

Get in touch with Rob:
Rob Kessler's website - http://MillionDollarCollar.com
Rob Kessler on Instagram - https://instagram.com/captain_kess_la
Million Dollar Collar on Instagram -  https://www.instagram.com/milliondollarcollar/
Rob Kessler on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/robkessleriii/
Rob Kessler on Facebook - https://facebook.com/milliondollarcollar


Join Jason Muth and Attorney / Broker Rory Gill of NextHome Titletown and UrbanVillage Legal in Boston, Massachusetts for another episode of The Real Estate Law Podcast!

#entrepreneur #commercialrealestate #entrepreneurship #realestatepodcast #nexthome #humansoverhouses #realestate  #realestateinvesting #stuntdoubles

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The Real Estate Law Podcast is hosted by Jason Muth and Attorney / Broker Rory Gill.

This podcast and these show notes are not legal advice, but we hope you find both entertaining and informative.

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Rob Kessler:

Details to me are, that's where it's all at. You know, I have one of my early promotions was attend to detail and it just just a different way of saying it. But it's the little things and one of the things I hear back all the time from my customers and million dollar callers, I just feel more confident I feel so put together.

Announcer:

You found the real estate law podcast. Because real estate is more than just pretty pictures. And law goes well beyond the paperwork and courtroom argument. If you're a real estate professional, or looking to build real estate expertise, then welcome to the conversation and Discover more at real estate law podcast.com

Jason Muth:

Welcome to another episode of the Eeal estate Law Podcast. I'm so excited that you've joined us today because we have an amazing guest. He is I'm gonna call you a serial entrepreneur, Rob, you know, because you seem like you're always working on something new. And you could tell us about a bunch of your different projects right here. But the great thing about Rob, this is Rob Kessler, who we're about to talk to is that he started earlier on in real estate in commercial real estate and that has really helped springboard him into a number of different endeavors that he's working on right now. And we'll get into all of those and how real estate really had set him on that path. We're also here with Rory Gill, who is attorney broker, make some titles down here in Boston and UrbanLillage legal. Hi, Rory.

Rory Gill:

Hi ! Jason Yeah, I only have two businesses. So I don't know what I'm gonna offer today. I feel so so light on my commitments.

Jason Muth:

I know, I know. I think Rob you have 74 businesses. Is that right?

Unknown:

74. Yeah, I think 74 was where we're at.

Jason Muth:

We're eventually going to get down to talking about Million Dollar Collar, which, you know, we're completely embarrassed that we don't have those in our collars right now. I've watched a number of videos about Million Dollar Collar because when we booked this interview with you a couple of weeks ago, I was showing Rory some of the videos that I found. And I said, Okay, I get this now, like you take the stitching out. You put this in the collar. Yep, button undone you look, I mean, it's exactly what you look like right now, if you're watching this on YouTube. I'm guessing that shirt has a million dollar collar on it, right?

Unknown:

It does. And it's actually one of our first rounds of our own shirt. We tried making our own shirt called Go Tieless. So it's the first shirt designed to be worn without a tie. So the quick synopsis of Million Dollar Collar is think collar stay except nine inches long, and it goes down the front of your shirt with buttons and the holes are so we go without a tie which 90% of men do most of the time, it's going to look great all day long, especially when you throw a jacket on, you know how it always gets kind of like caught under the lapel. So you can see that photo for my wedding is where this all came from a brand new freshly pressed shirt. That picture was taken before I even said "I do" in Jamaica. I came home from from that trip. And I'm like, I got to do something about this because I hated wearing ties. And every other solution just was some kind of kitschy collar stay. And I figured that that had been fixed a long time ago. To me the problem was the front of the shirt. That's what's collapsing under the weight of the collar. So it's basically a collar sport. And it's the first of its kind in the world. So that's where we're at.

Jason Muth:

What's this part of the shirt called? The placket?

Unknown:

Yeah, so this part of the shirts called the placket, it's an opening that makes it accessible to put on clothing. But nobody knows what a placket is if you're outside of the clothing industry. So that's why with Million Dollar Collar as opposed to perfect placket or something like that.

Jason Muth:

I only know what that is because I did my homework and watch some videos.

Rob Kessler:

You're one of the 3% that knows what that is.

Jason Muth:

Let's start a little bit from the beginning to figure out how you got to Million Dollar Collar. And really funny social media also, I think you're always highlighting celebrities that don't have them and should have the placketitis or is that we call it?

Unknown:

Placketitis! Yeah, my wife came up with that pretty early on, we're like you need it, you need to sound like a disease that's curable. And since isn't the plaque it were like placketitis, like it's perfect. So yeah, we it's easy to find a celebrity or anybody out there that has a goofed up shirt. So today, today's post was Dana White from the UFC. So you can see his face and it's pretty, pretty funny, but actually worked with a lot of people. My wife is a Hollywood stunt woman. So she's on set all the time talking to costumers. So we've been in dozens and dozens of TV shows. I spent a lot of time connecting with, you know that industry and just trying to highlight what our product does. Because, you know, if you ever watch a show, and obviously I'm like, highly acute to that part of the shirt, but it's like, one one take it'd be like this next take it would be like this, that'd be like this. And I'm like, Dude, look at that. It looks crazy. So they really appreciate the consistency of the shirts of being perfect that perfect V all the time. So yeah, it's been it's been a wild little ride.

Jason Muth:

Do you ever do you ever look back at like the past? I don't know how many years you've been working years decades and say, Geez, I never thought I'd get to here. I mean, where you are now. You know versus years ago. You're like, hey, you know you cuz we all we're all writing our story, right? You know, who knows where we're gonna be 5-10 years from now. We could write it down. But, life might take us on a different turn. You know, I was reading up about your background, and it seems like you started with some commercial real estate properties in the Midwest. And I'm guessing that when you were operating those you probably weren't thinking toward a Million Dollar Collar idea. Or maybe you were,

Unknown:

I always tinkered around with little stuff. I mean, I've come up with a couple other inventions over the years. This is the first one that I've pursued like hard full on, but I'll tell you the e-commerce world versus, you know, if you read my bio, I sold houses, cars, and diamonds. So the three most expensive things that most people buy in their lifetime, that's a very relationship type business, it's typically a longer process. E-commerce is a whole nother world. So I struggle with how to relate my, you know, personality in E-commerce versus what I'm used to. But, you know, I always dreamed big. It's why my wife and I, we were actually dating other people, when we met. We just kind of started talking, you're like, Well, dude, you're into this, and I'm into this. And we seem like we're kind of going like going in the same direction. So, you know, we found each other pretty quickly. And but yeah, I always dreamed really big. And, you know, to me, it's taking longer than I ever thought or hoped, which I think most entrepreneurs will tell you that it does take longer. But I've had the fortunate opportunity to just try anything I wanted. You know, I really liked architecture from a young age that Saturday mornings in high school, you know, after going out with my friends on Friday night, I was laying in bed watching Home Time, and remodeling TV shows and stuff. And I just so understood a concept. Conceptually, I got what that stuff was all about. I just really liked architecture. So I ended up going to UW Milwaukee, which was the second best architecture school in the country when I went into college. So I wasn't that kind of a student. So I knew pretty quickly, I wasn't going to be an architect, but out of college, I ended up getting into real estate, which gave me the opportunity to tour homes and and see the different architecture and see how people design their homes and you know, things like that. So it gave me a way to get into real estate and architecture without having to be an architect. So definitely always kind of been into that. And you know, I'm driving down the street and just looking at houses and you know, in high school, and if I had a bad day, I'm like, I'm just taking the car and I would just drive around and look at houses and just kind of try to calm down and relax. So always been into real estate from a pretty young age.

Jason Muth:

How long were you doing real estate back then before you made your first pivot into your next endeavor?

Unknown:

So real estate was.. I did I started, I got my license when I was 23. I was one of the fastest people to ever get their license, at least in the state of Wisconsin from opening the first book to passing my test in 10 days. So I knew that I had to get to work. So but the problem was at 23 my circle of influence is buying, you know $120,000 houses. My very first sale took I started in April was my first year I sold one house to one friend for $125,000 for like a $1,500 commission. So I ended up working that and you know hanging around the office and working with other agents and built that business pretty good. I end up doing four or $5 million a year in my in my mid 20s. So I bought my first duplex in 2006. I think I was 27 or something like that. Gutted it, like came home from the closing took a hammer to the wall and just started smashing up like gutted the whole thing to the studs and rebuilt it all by myself all from those home time shows in the morning just thinking about how it all did. I never really hung drywall never really did any of that stuff just kind of figured it out as I went. But while I was doing that, you know 2008-2009, the market crashed. I was selling a condo project at that point. And it just wasn't going anywhere. They kept pushing us off and pushing this off. So I ended up going to work back for my father in the jewelry industry, which I did in college. So I did that for a few years. I'd started my clothing company at that point Newd Clothing stood for Nothing Else Will Do N-E-W-D. So that became a screen printing business because clothing is this like brutal business. Yeah, you got to carry all this inventory and hope that somebody buys what you what you're selling. And, you know, people just kept coming to me for my screen printing. And so I kept fighting to tell my dad like God, I just don't want to be a screen printer it's like, but if you run the numbers, a guy comes in on Thursday. I order the shirts on Friday. I have them on Monday and I'm paid on Tuesday. It's pretty quick turnaround you're not you know, you're not fronting it for very long. So I ended up growing that business out of my basement to about a million dollars in revenue before I sold that and that's about the time we bought our 6,000 square foot commercial building. My wife and I had that for a couple years before we moved out to Los Angeles. So I had my screen printing business move out of the basement into that building. She opened a gym in part of that building and then we rented out nine built out eight offices and rented those out and those guys paid for the whole mortgage for the two. So we're running our businesses for free and we're living for free because we were in a duplex My tenants were paying for that. So kind of live in the high life for a while is great.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, there was a lot to unpack, I heard, I heard a little bit of house hacking, which is what the real estate world calls it, when you're basically buying a place living in it, and having people paying your rent for you. Some commercial real estate, it sounds like a lot of your businesses, you know, kind of evolved from one to the other. You know, we know people that do screen printing here in Boston. And I always wasn't sure how lucrative a business that was. But if you can really grow it, like Like you've suggested, and it's a really quick turnaround, not not big with receivables, it's probably a very favorable business for cash flow is what it sounds like. with all of those that You know I did smaller runs, like, you know, most of the screen printers like the do 100-200, you know, 500 shirts, I was like, give me 10, 20, 50, 100 shirts, so that most people didn't want to talk to I took that all day long, because I could do it within a day. You know, I folded every single shirt individually. So you know, if you've ever ordered shirts before, they're they're bundled up and dozens, you grab one and it's just a huge mess. We hand-folded that every single one we labeled every single one I used to hang tag them with like little promotional cards. So we just did a lot of extra stuff that nobody else is really doing in the screen printing business. And I did all-inclusive pricing, because I hated when you walk in there and be like, Okay, it's $20 for the screen, and it's $20 for that screen. And then it's it's this much for print and this much for shirts, like they just tell me how much it is. So yeah, eight bucks, 12 shirts, one color, like really straightforward. You know, it sounds like the little things. Like I mean, like you just kind of mentioned how important the details are with differentiating that business. Is that something you've carried through? Actually, you can probably answer the question, because you're focusing right now on this little part of the shirt. Right, the little things and this could this Million Dollar Collar is a million dollar business? Right?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, the details to me are, that's where it's all at, you know, I have one of my early promotions was "Attend to Detail." And it just is just a different way of saying it. But it's the little things. And one of the things I hear back all the time from my customers and Million Dollar Collar. I just feel more confident, I feel so put together. And it's like, the simplest little thing that you don't really most people don't think about I've, I've had to steal shirts out of my friends closets and put this into their shirt, because they're like, Yeah, it's cool, I get it. But I don't know if I really need it. And they're like, Thank you for making me acutely aware of a problem I never knew I had. But now that I know that I have it, I have to have this in every single shirt. So that's been fun. But I learned all that a lot of that business and that the fine tuning for my dad, he's just a brilliant businessman and very fortunate to have watched him grow business from nothing to quite successful.

Rory Gill:

The first part of your story, I heard just lots of quick changes. And people I know in the real estate industry don't necessarily know when it's time to change people latch on to old business models or even to old industries that no longer suit them. What was it that made you realize that it's time to make a change, time to leave real estate, time to do the cleaning company time to pivot the clothing clothing company into more of a screen printing operation? What made you make those decisions along the way,

Unknown:

I know that I'm not that smart. So I'm willing to listen to my customers and listen to the market and hear what they have to say. I mean, my Million Dollar Collar originally was going to be a dress shirt. We did a Kickstarter, we were going to do our own shirt. We did not get all the money. We didn't raise all the money we needed. But unequivocally the feedback from people that were willing to give us money said, Why are you trying to compete with all the brands? Why not try to license it? And why can't I upgrade the shirts I already know in love. And so I said, Oh, that's brilliant. They're willing to give us money. And this is what their advice is okay, I went back, I redesigned the whole thing. It's now a use of universal fitting piece that mean it can go into any shirt I've been we've sold about almost a half a million units. I've never heard of a shirt that hasn't fit inside of. And so any shirt in your closet can be upgraded. I'm just willing to listen, and especially the person that's willing to put up money. If you talk to your friends, they'll give you some good advice. But unless they put their money up there, then to me, it's not really all that worth it. So, you know, the market, real estate market kind of pushed me out in 2008 between the condo project and just overall dying, you know, the way that the market was, so fortunately, no timing worked out with my dad's company. So I went back there for a couple of years. But you know, him and I started butting heads a little bit. I'm like, Look, I need new challenges. I've been a top salesperson in the store, I'm a top salesperson in this area, like I need something more and there just wasn't more for me. And so you know him and I decided that we'd rather be a good family than than have anything happened within the business. So I went and focus solely on the screen printing business and was able to kind of take that and go run with it. So I feel like I've been fortunate I never like to say that I'm lucky but you know, I worked my butt off way too hard to say that I'm lucky but things just sometimes tend to work out.

Jason Muth:

You know, we've done a few recent episodes where the guest has mentioned 2008-2009 as a an inflection point. And I'm old enough to remember it Rory is old enough to remember, we all kind of have our story around that time. Some people who listened to this podcast are younger, so they're in their 20s. And they probably don't remember what it was like to go through that period. And you know, you, you had a business change where he was coming out of law school, I had a couple job losses during that time. They were brief, but it was like, I'm the kind of person that was never between jobs in my life, you know, I never have been since. So it was a very strange, jarring time the real estate market took took a massive dive in a lot of neighborhoods around the country. And, you know, I think that a lot of people that came out from that, you know, are now the ones that are super successful with whatever path they decided to take. Because it's like, it's like a forest fire, right, you know, it burns the whole forest down, but then more trees will eventually grow right out of that forest fire. You know, so a lot of the ideas that are happening right now, 10, 11, 12 years after a huge economic crisis started because people were forced to make a change. And, you know, it's a common theme that we've had, as with guests on our podcast recently, everybody made a change around that time. And maybe one one thing I should say, if you are younger listening to this, is we could be in that same time right now with COVID. We don't know, you know, there's been a lot of some people have been wildly successful as a result of COVID, or despite COVID. And some have been, it's been very economically challenging the past couple years. But I do know that it's a big shock to the system, just like, '08-'09 very different, though, you know, this is a health crisis versus an economic crisis. But you know, it sounds as though after that happened is where a lot of what you're doing now, emanated from that, right, did you meet your wife after that, and you started these businesses after that time?

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, we met in 2010. So it was it was after that things kind of settled down. Don't think I was still working for my dad anymore at that point, but or it was real close. But yeah, I, you know, I'm, I'm a big fan of Tony Robbins. And, you know, I know, he's quite religious. And he likes to say, you know, if God, if you don't, you know, prepare for, you know, things to change, and God's gonna force that change upon you, and then you're gonna have to figure it out. And I've kind of always felt that way that just really resonated with me. I mean, my wife and I absolutely love living in Los Angeles, we just love the energy and the weather, and we're close to the ocean. And, you know, she's in the film industry, like I said, Atlanta's the movie making capital of the world. And I said, Look, we, you're working a lot in Atlanta, I just don't see LA really holding on to that, that charm that it's had for much longer, we either need to do something quick, or that decisions going to be made for us. So I'm glad we got what out when we did about March of last year. So we've been here almost a year in Atlanta. But you know, I think sometimes you really have to look in the mirror and make the hard decision. It's not what you want to do. But you have to do certain things to stay being able to do the things that you want. And we moved into a house that's five times bigger than we had Los Angeles on five acres, that's half price. So, you know, dogs get to run free on five acres all day. And you know, I love it, because it's, it's my house, and now I get to work on it again. So I haven't done anything, you know, since I had my house back and in Milwaukee, and you know, 2008 '09, '10. So I love getting my hands dirty and you know, working on projects and got to be flexible, and you have to have to kind of read the room a little bit and not always make the right decisions. The there's not always the easy one.

Jason Muth:

When did you move to Georgia?

Rob Kessler:

March of 2021. In like, two weeks, she was here in January and February for seven weeks working. We're thinking about maybe kind of doing a bi coastal thing, but with a Rottweiler. And if you've seen her walking around Lola is a 70. Yeah, she's 70 pounds too. So we got 130 and a 70 pound dog, so it's not easy to find a rental. So she just started looking and she found this house on February 28. We had an accepted offer on March 1 closed on March 11. I had the house packed and was in the truck driving out here on like the 13th. And that was it. me two weeks we were out to LA that was it Done.

Jason Muth:

World kind of shut down shortly thereafter. All right? Well, '21. So we were already you know, in the middle of all this craziness. So but we were in? We were in Cuba in March of 2020. When when it all started so let me tell you how sketchy that was. Oh my goodness. Yeah, I know. We had friends that were in Iceland when things started getting shut down. And like we're texting him saying like, you might want to come home now. We're not sure what's going to happen.

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, all of a sudden, in Cuba, people were wearing masks looking at us, like what did you bring to our island? I'm like, I don't know what you're talking about. I'm healthy.

Jason Muth:

Rory could probably comment a little bit on that. Also. I mean, like there's been an exodus from cities into suburbs all around the country. We're starting to see it flipped a little bit here in Boston. But you know, what are you seeing Rory? I mean, like, this is the kind of, you know, Rob moved from a small place in LA to a huge place in Georgia.

Rory Gill:

One thing I picked up on what Rob said that rings true here is he said for them, part of the charm of LA might be going away, at least in the short term, part of that it happened across all cities. Therefore, you know, in the heart of COVID, the reason you live in a city is to enjoy kind of the amenities and the culture and the people. And if that's taken away, I think it's temporary, obviously. But if that gets taken away, there's no real reason to live as it right in the city center. So the suburbs became a hot ticket item in the real estate market for a while. But yeah, as we reopen, and as things kind of settle back in to the charm of the city is coming back. But there are a lot of people in my generation who are probably primed to move to a bigger place for their kids, for their dogs or just for the lifestyle. And they took this as the chance to go. So Rob is certainly not alone.

Rob Kessler:

I mean, we're 12 minutes from the studio, we're two and a half miles off the highway. I got a grocery store five minutes away, and I live on a dirt road. It is crazy, weirdest thing. But I friggin love it.

Rory Gill:

With your move. I know. Obviously, you didn't take your fishing charter business with you to Atlanta. That's in Los Angeles. And you probably saw us operations there. How are you managing these businesses remotely?

Rob Kessler:

So I got very, very lucky one of the captains that I had working with me, just we really hit it off, and I kind of let him take charge of the boat business. I handled all the bookings, he made sure the front end was taken care of, we had a really great crew member, she understood what I wanted, you know. And when I first moved, I think I was going out like every weekend or every other weekend, I was flying back and forth to LA. So I think I flew 34 times in 2021, which is kind of crazy for me. But I think Gold member status was something that was ever going to be a thing for me. But I went back and forth quite a bit in the beginning just to kind of understand how this is all going to work. And once we had that system kind of figured out, I got the bookings, made sure that they knew that what was happening, and business cranked. I mean, it's I've not been all that successful in hiring in the past. My screen printing business and some of the other businesses have had, I've tried tried having employees and I just haven't been great at it. But I got it right on this this go around, I guess. So we're, you know, we're getting ready to start up another season and hopefully have another another great year in Los Angeles on boat.

Jason Muth:

Well, we'll make sure to put a link to Bella boating. It's I'm sure it's just bellaboating.com, right, and it goes just on the website. But we'll put a link in the show notes. The social media shows a lot of great photos. And you know, I was looking at the types of charters that you do and it looks like it's a little higher end, isn't it like with the people that are booking with you?

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, we've kind of wanted to go, that luxury market, we were $550 an hour to start. And that's for up to six people. And then it's another $100 per person for each additional 12 maximum. I mean, we were always hoping like, look, if we can we actually had what happened was sold the real estate in Wisconsin, both properties to a guy, and we needed to put the money somewhere. And so, you know, instead of paying tons and tons and taxes, we leveraged the profits into the boat, which you can get into that there's a deduction for charter boats. So we started this charter business from scratch. I knew a little bit about it, but I didn't know a ton. I got my captain's license, we got the business crankin we've been doing it for about three and a half years now. And it's ridiculous the business that we built. I mean, it's, you know, you got a town, LA at 15-18 million people that are within driving distance plus used to be a huge tourist town. So we had tons of tourism coming. I mean, we have four seasons and a bunch of great high end hotels that use this as as references. So, you know, because my wife's in the industry. You know, we had Beyonce and you know, Pauly Shore shot a scene in the movie, and we've got a lot of athletes and you know, people like that. I mean, it's been wild, like never thought, you know, is this something we were kind of passionate about? We were hoping that we'd get a free boat out of the deal and maybe work, you know, four or five charters a month. But, you know, in July of this year, we did 34 charters in one month and I mean, ridiculous amount of money. And it was it's been been very fortunate.

Jason Muth:

And you're going out to Marina del Rey, right Marina del Rey. Yep. Is that Is that the one right by LAX?

Rob Kessler:

Right? Yep. So la the other one that there's a smaller one that's near as a Redondo. It's called King Harbor, but I actually called them and they're like, they laughed when I asked about a 50 foot slip. And they said, Sure, if you want to get on the five year waiting list you can get on the five year waiting. It's very small, but Marina del Rey is the largest man made marina in the world about 6000 slips. So it's where everybody kind of goes for if they're going to charter so that's been fun. It's been a while.

Jason Muth:

So commercial real estate out of Milwaukee and Green Bay turned into a boat Charter Business at a Marina del Rey that is very wild.

Rob Kessler:

Well the screen printing business with the all inclusive prices turned into the commercial with we did all inclusive offices, so your internet, your electricity, because when I was looking to move out of the basement, you know, it's like, okay, the space is this much, but how much am I going to burn on electric and internet, you know, if you're an entrepreneur and you're just kind of starting out the variable in those monthly bills can be scary. So let's just price this thing, break it all out, we got eight offices, here's what the overall nut is, let's break it all out, just give people you know, a single price. And people absolutely loved it. So I mean, I had an office that was 90 square feet that I got $350 a month for, which is you can work on that price per square foot and enjoy that number. But, you know, we took that idea, we bought a second building after we moved to Los Angeles, I was just kind of like, look, I want to stay on top of my numbers, I want to continue to understand the real estate industry. So I was looking around at properties, commercial properties in Wisconsin, I found a building two miles down the road from my in laws up in Green Bay, 16,000 square feet with 22 offices that I ended up it was a foreclosure I ended up buying for like 160 grand. So we put 125 into remodeling, it filled the thing up. And that was by the time we sold both those buildings, we had only owned that second one for 13 months, and sold it for three and a half times what we paid for it in 13 months. So I love that aspect of finding something like I could drive by an old warehouse. But like, I could see some really cool potential in that. And that's kind of the architecture side of me, I guess. But I saw this building sight unseen. I never saw it until the day of closing. And I was like, Oh my God, what did I buy? And but it ended up working?

Rory Gill:

Would you ever consider doing that again?

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, you know, I've really enjoyed that business. I love learning about real estate, my wife, one of her girlfriends was just here, her husband owns about almost 2 million square feet of industrial space. So learning a little bit about that business, or that part of the business, to definitely want to get back into, you know, owning some real estate and having more of that residual income instead of everything that we've worked so hard for. So starting to do the research again, start and look around. And you know, there's a lot of opportunity here in Atlanta, especially with the movie industry. So really excited about what the future has,

Jason Muth:

What types of new investments do you think you're looking at? Are they local in Atlanta? Or are they going to be another market? Is there a niche that you're looking at like commercial or warehouse or short term rentals? Or what's kind of what's the itch you have?

Rob Kessler:

I've got a few friends that are in the Airbnb. And they say a lot of good things. Makes me a little bit nervous. But I also like the fact that it's established enough that you know, most of the systems are in place at this point. So for a new Airbnb owner at today to just walk in and say, Okay, well, the cleaning is taken care of the maintenance, like all those systems are already in place and all the bookings so I like that about Airbnb, not a fan of never really had a lot of residential other than my duplex, I loved our commercial buildings, because you'd have, you know, two or three bathrooms and nine offices and just not a lot of plumbing to deal with. So I've liked that. My buddy just ran into a guy and met a guy that owns 21, mobile home parks, and he was talking about, you know, selling his Ferrari, and then he got a Lamborghini. And then somebody wanted his Lamborghini, they paid him 50 grand more than his Lamborghini was worth. So I don't mind that world, either. I don't really care what it is, you know, so I love learning about it. I love learning new things. I always love getting a new job because it was just like, you know, overload of gotta learn how to do this and this system and that and figure that out. And so, you know, looking at different aspects of the market for sure.

Jason Muth:

We have a few episodes about short-term rentals. As part of the real estate law podcast, we interviewed Natalie Palmer. She's a great Airbnb, superhost that she actually is, I know she does on the side for Airbnb, like she kind of welcomes new hosts on but I followed her on Instagram, and we just got talking and she runs a couple properties out at Big Bear Lake, California. Is that right did I got that right, Rory? Big Bear. Big Bear. Yeah. Big Bear. Yeah. And, you know, it's all about building systems. We shared a bunch of war stories, you know, she's, she's great. And like, we were able to kind of commiserate on the fact that we have a couple Airbnb s ourselves, and one is in a very touristy area, and one is very off the beaten path. And they both do well, for different reasons, like and there's a couple short list of things that you could do with Airbnbs that, you know, will lead to success. And you can do them anywhere, pretty much but you have to watch local regulations, you know, because if if a town bands together and decides to ban them, you know, then you're S.O.L.

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, I mean, I would never buy one that was in like a condo building for that exact reason. Because you only need that HOA within a condo building to say you're done and then you're screwed. So that makes me a little bit nervous. But, you know, learning about this industrial space has been crazy. I mean, that what this guy does and how he manages it, like, oh, okay, I mean, I just never understood it. So it just never was a thing for me. But over 20 years, he's accumulated almost 2 million square feet. So I'm like, what do you do for a living you walk to the mailbox and pick up right when he

Jason Muth:

Pick up my checks.

Rob Kessler:

And raise my daughter

Jason Muth:

Rob, you have your fingers in so many different businesses right now. And before we head to our final wrap up, I do want to talk about Million Dollar Collar in a little more depth because it's is that where you're putting a lot of your time right now is that the big... I see collars bind your, your right shoulder. So I bet you that something that a lot of people are listening would love to hear more about?

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, I mean, it's definitely the bulk of my attention. So I came up with this in 2013, after my wedding took about two and a half, three years to get patented. So in 2016, is when we launched. So we're just coming up starting our sixth year on online sales. Almost everything so far has been direct consumer, we went directly to all the biggest brands, we first got the Pat, like we had this great technology we met with all these guys like and I don't know if it's really a thing, proven. And so now we've sold them as to half a million units, direct to consumer 125 countries, most people order 15 to 20 units at a time. And so you know, the focus now now that we've got to half a million units, I think it's a pretty strong number. It's really hitting these factories really hitting big brands, they look let's look, how do we get this into a shirt, we're really close. Right before COVID hit in October of 2019. We were meeting with Express which ironically, like I said was the the shirt that I got married in. So had come full circle as back at Express it was in this great shirt. And we had this great meeting. They wanted to do like a huge test. And then it came out that Lex Wexler was like the main guy that funded Jeffrey Epstein. And, you know, one of the other brands Victoria's Secret needed some help. And then COVID hit, it was just like the perfect whirlwind of perfect storm of three terrible things. So, you know, we're still in touch with those guys, and, and just talking to a lot of brands working with a couple other people overseas to try to just get into the factories and make this a real option. The one thing that most people just the big glitch is that you have to get the sewn into the shirt. If you look, you know, both sides are visible. So if you just had something that stuck on with the millions of patterns of fabric that are out there, I mean, I've got three patterns just for the three of us sitting here. So you know, it would just look awful. So basically every shirt has two layers here and two layers in the collar band. So you open less than and inch of stitches and just slide it in. So back together, like every shirts made exactly the same. It takes five minutes for any anybody with basic sewing skills that tons of guys buy it and say, Dude, I taught myself how to sew, I was so excited about trying this thing out. I just taught myself how to sew and figure it out really easy. So I do mostly installations myself, you can see my sewing machine right there on the floor. So I do a lot of like our VIP packs. And you know, people send in five shirts, I just like use my hands, you know, staying physical and doing things like that. So it's been a business, it's totally different than everything else I've done. So it's a little frustrating on that point. But I am like an ox and I just keep ramming my head until until we get through and just keep going at it. That's awesome. That's like it's again, it's the problem that nobody knew that they had. But now everyone is looking at it saying, oh, yeah, you're right. You're absolutely right. We all do have that problem. Mm hmm. Rory actually did a good job of not wearing a button shirt today for the sole purpose, because we don't want you to make fun of the both of us. So I'm taking the brunt of whatever collar... what's it called, again? Placketitis!

Jason Muth:

Placketisis. Well, Rob, this has been a great discussion, I really appreciate hearing about your journey from real estate into into apparel and a little bit of stops with the parallel along the way. If we could just get into our final wrap up where we ask the same three questions of all of our guests. We'll we'll then have you let everyone know where people can find you. First question we have, if you were to be able to hop on stage and speak for 30 minutes with no preparation about any topic in the world. What would it be?

Rob Kessler:

You know, I think my experience just of doing business. You know, You call me a serial entrepreneur. And I guess that is one way to say it. I hate titles. I hate them, like hate them. Like NEWD company, I call myself the director of direction because I just I just trying to steer the ship in the right direction. That's it. So I could definitely get up. And we just did talk for 30 minutes with any nothing scripted in a couple of questions. So I can talk about how I've been successful and the things that worked for me. And it's just a little thing, you know, treat people how you want to be treated and even a little bit better. And, you know, hope they tell their friends and just do your best. Learning

Jason Muth:

All those lessons along the way, also. I mean, like you've mentioned a couple things that are just applicable in whatever endeavor people are doing these days. So secondly, that actually leads into the second question, tell us something that's happened early in your life that impacts the way your life or career that impacts the way that you're working today.

Rob Kessler:

So my first real job I've had a couple of little jobs before this, but when I was 17, I got hired at a soccer and volleyball store. I played very competitive soccer in high school in college. And after, even till six weeks ago, when I tried to get back on the field and tore my Achilles tendon, which sucks, let me tell you torn Achilles, it's brutal. So I got hired at this place. And day one, the owner handed me a key to the store, and a code to the alarm and put all this faith and trust in me from day one. And he basically said, you know, any part of this business that you want to be in, this is your business, you can explore anything that that excites you. And he had a bunch of high school and college kids working their butts off in between class and after school. And, you know, we really felt like it was our business and the fact that he gave me that confidence at such a young age. I can never ever, you know, repeat repay him for that. Unfortunately, a few years later, he ended up dying totally randomly, 20 minutes after I hung up the phone with them, the tissue around his heart thickened and he literally dropped dead with a two and a half year old son, another one on the way. So I think about him all the time. It was my very first tattoo. And, you know, he's been a mentor, and, you know, very, very fortunate to have him come in my life.

Jason Muth:

Yeah. Well, you could probably repay that level of trust with others, you know, as you move forward with your business. You know, he put a lot of trust in you right there when you were young. And you know, he must have seen something that he said he could trust you.

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, I mean, I feel like you know, with our boat business with my captain, you know, when we have a holiday weekend like Memorial Day, Labor Day, Fourth of July, I mean, they'll be doing 10 or 12 charters, they're on the water for 12 or 13 hours a day. So after that weekend, you know, Memorial Day weekend last year, my wife was like, Hey, we should give them a bonus. I mean, they but we've done that we know how hard it is. Cut them both $500 checks, and my captain is my age, 43 years old. He was like on the verge of tears. Like dude, nobody's ever given me a bonus in my life ever. And he's 43 years old. And so like, Oh, I know. Thank you? I don't know, he's done a great job. Appreciate you. I can rely on you like I don't want to have. He's like constantly texting me, hey, I'm doing this. I'm like, Dude, I have you doing this because I don't care. I don't want to hear about it. I trust you go for it, knock it out. Like, you don't have to put in time off for me. Like, just tell me you're not gonna be around, we'll work it out. So it's totally different world that he's working with me versus his normal day job.

Jason Muth:

So treat your people well is a great lesson there, you know, with with our Airbnbs you know, the people that clean are instrumental to our success. So you know, we respond quickly, we pay immediately. We treat them very, very well. You know, it's, I mean, he's so important to your operations out there. You know, $500 is it went far. He'll remember that forever. Yeah. So finally, so what are some things that you're watching reading or listening to these days?

Rob Kessler:

So we just worked our way through Yellowstone, which is ridiculous, amazing show my wife, she has bought her first horse. She's been riding since she was eight years old. So it's definitely a big part of her life. And that's been a really fun show. You know, we're always out catching whatever shows or movies she's been on. So we're always trying to find that stuff that's out there. But yeah, watched World War Z last night. And like I said, we watched all Yellowstone. We're actually catching up on Walking Dead because she worked on that quite a bit. So she doubles Jenna Elfman and Fear the Walking Dead. So we'll watch that at some point, I'm sure so

Jason Muth:

I fell off the Walking Dead train, but I loved it the first few seasons. I mean, it just and the things that we have almost three year old right now. So like, we don't really watch many serialized shows anymore, because we fall asleep. Walking Dead... I mean, that was such it was such like must see TV immediately. It's still a great show. I just I don't I'm not up to date, unfortunately.

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, I think we're in season three or four something like that. So we're still we'd like to wait until it's over. So we just binge it and you know, Breaking Bad we're

watching to like 2:

30 or 3 in the morning. Really? Alright, one more episode, we're going to bed

Jason Muth:

Those two shows. I mean, like, you know, I used to work with Comcast, which is, you know, big cable company internet company, NBC Universal owns no, Comcast owns NBC Universal. But I remember when I first was working with them, I was at the ad sales division on the digital side. And those were the two big shows you know, because those shows were only on cable on demand was you know, emerging everyone had to watch Breaking Bad Walking Dead. It was must see TV. And the ratings were off the charts at the time. So I mean, this is just about 10 years ago. Your wife is a stunt woman right? Yep. She's been on you said she'd Fear the Walking Dead or The Walking Dead or

Rob Kessler:

both. She's actually going back to work on The Walking Dead I think next week that builds here in Atlanta and but Fear the Walking Dead films in Austin, but she doubles Jenna on Fear. So Jenna, and her really great relationship is times that like general will turn around and be like dude, that is freaky, man. I like looking at a mirror.

Jason Muth:

Has she been zombified? down before? Oh, yeah, she's zombie. Yeah.

Rob Kessler:

Oh, yeah. That is here in the humidity with all that makeup. In prosthetics, so she actually the big prosthetics she did was for Captain Marvel, she was a scrawl. And it took day one on the first day of shooting, it took six and a half hours to put makeup on. And three hours to get it off. And you got like a 12 hour day in between working so they end up getting it down to about three hours to put on, you know, late on later in the movie, but yeah, and she's she's done some crazy stuff. 50 or 60 credits. I mean, she's only been an industry a couple years so she busts but she's got a business degree. She's like, look, it's show business. I'm gonna work with like a business and very successful

Jason Muth:

God, what a fascinating life!

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, it's been pretty.

Jason Muth:

Meanwhile, I think that our daughter woke up from a nap. So I'm gonna go check on her at this point, which is basically all right, we're living right now. So Rob, can you can you tell everybody where you can be found? And we'll put all this in the show notes as well.

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, you know our websites, milliondollarcollar.com. Our GoTieless, you know, you talk about pivoting gotieless.com, we pivoted that company. So instead of competing in the dress shirt market, what our company our factory can do is digitally print any logo on fabric. So instead of getting a shirt and embroidering your logo, left chest looking like a tradeshow shirt. All this contrast in the shirts can have any logo in any color for your company. So you got really, really good we call them the classeist logoed shirts ever made. And so it's a 50 shirt minimum order. But if you've got a business that you want to have really great looking shirts, Million Dollar Collar built in, your crew look great or you want to give them away to clients. Those are amazing. Our GoTieless shirts are amazing. So we got that. We have all the Instagram and Facebook handles for both of those companies. And I'm on LinkedIn at Rob Kessler iii. I am the third Rob Kessler the third.

Jason Muth:

Well, Rob Kessler the third, we'll put links to all those in the show notes so everybody can go buy lots of Million Dollar Collars and go tieless shirts for their 50 or more shirt orders.

Rob Kessler:

Yes, appreciate it.

Jason Muth:

Rory, where can we find you?

Rory Gill:

I'm easy enough to find just that for me at NextHome Titletown that's nexthometitletown.com or UrbanVillage Legal urbanvillagelegal.com.

Jason Muth:

And for some reason, if people want to talk to me, they could reach me at Jason@nexthometitletown.com. And I'm happy to respond. I will. So Rob, thank you so much. Really appreciate your telling your story, your journey telling us where you are today. It's very inspiring to hear you know the path that you've taken and how you've worked from you know, a series of jobs into where you are today. We wish you the best and success. We can't wait to see your wife in more stunts for things anything that's filming in Georgia. I'll go take a look and see what it looks like just so I EagleEye and we'll watch her Fear the Walking Dead today and see whatever Jenna Elfman does something that does not look like something she would do. I'm sure it was your wife.

Rob Kessler:

Yeah, right. Yeah, check out Linda. lindarkessler.com is her website. You can see her reel and all this all the crazy stuff. She's done. She's badass.

Jason Muth:

I will do that. We will. Yeah, proud hubby. Thank you so much for you. Thanks for listening to the Real Estate Law Podcast. We hope that you've enjoyed this episode. If you have, if you can like and subscribe and comment and do all those things that podcast host asked for. It helps us all because then more people get to hear us. So signing off. My name is Jason Muth and I appreciate your listening. Thank you.

Announcer:

Thank you. This has been the real estate law podcast. Because real estate is more than just pretty pictures. And law goes well beyond the paperwork and courtroom arguments. were powered by next home Titletown greater Boston's progressive real estate brokerage. More at next home titletown.com and urban village legal Massachusetts real estate counseling serving savvy property owners, lenders and investors more at urban village legal.com Today's conversation was not legal advice, but we hope you found it entertaining and informative. Discover more at real estate law podcast.com Thank you for listening