Mike Sammond:

 

R.J. Cox: 

Laverne Cox:  

Mike Sammond: 

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R.J. Cox:                                 

Mike Sammond:

Laverne Cox:

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R.J. Cox:

Joining us now on the program from Evergreen Investment Realty, is R.J. and Laverne Cox. I’m going to assume that you’re R.J. and you’re Laverne.

That’s correct.

Absolutely.

What a look Laverne just gave me. I’m just being silly as I usually am. Evergreen Investment Realty, tell us about your company and what you guys do.

We are a real estate brokerage that’s unique from what you’ve known a real estate brokerage to do. We thrive on helping investors build reliant real estate portfolios. We’ve taken the data and the processes that we’ve learned while working with some of the biggest investors. We’ve partnered with them to reimagine what local ownership and wealth creation can do if you took those same processes that the Wall Street guys have, take it to multifamily and single-family investing.

We’ve applied this process and helped everyone whether they’re buying for their first property and looking to scale to 10, or if they have 20 properties and looking to scale to 100. We help investors answer questions like: How do I do that? What do I need on my team? What are the processes? What should I be looking for in terms of those metrics? Because what we find a lot of times, is that it’s not just about the numbers, it also takes a business skill set match.

Sometimes you’ve got the cash, but you don’t have the aptitude for a certain type of property or asset. You buy it thinking it’s going to be a fantastic deal, you get into the operations of it and you start losing the profit that you thought you were going to gain because you just didn’t know how to work that business specifically. So, we tie in a lot of that data and we work with local, regional, and institutional investors to build thriving portfolios.

Now R.J. you’re the CEO. Laverne, you’re the COO. Talk about why you decided to start the company.

R.J., I don’t mind if you take this one as well.

I’m originally a native New Yorker and in Brooklyn from the 80s and the 90s, we saw a lot of disinvestment in certain areas. We went to different parts of town and noticed that there were pockets that weren’t receiving a bump in appreciation. These areas didn’t have folks come back to reinvest. When we looked around at boarded up buildings and blocks where the sun wasn’t shining we said there must be a way to turn this back around. When we looked at the areas that were once down as well, but we’re now thriving, we thought somehow, someway, someone said, “hey, there’s a great story here. Let me move back to this neighborhood. Let me start plating some rose bushes in the front yard. Let me start rehabbing this house. Let me start turning this around and making it a great place to live.”

Trying to figure out in our early 20s how to make that happen, put us into contact with a lot of folks that have been in the business for 20, 30, 40 years and as the foreclosures started to mount in ’07 and ’08, we got into the business working with real estate brokers that specialize in foreclosures. Talking to lots of local investors, they started to tell us what they look for in a neighborhood. Some folks were very passionate about their local community. Saying things like, “I’m local this is my town. Duluth is my city. I know what it used to be and I’m looking to bring that back around.” Some other folks were focused on the numbers, saying things like, “I know what good economic indicators to look for so I’m looking for job growth, I’m looking for population growth, I’m looking for tenants that are in this economic profile and then from there we can build portfolios of 500, 1000 types of units and get that large benefit of a major corporation scale.”

From these conversations, we realized that there was a big hole between the folks that were working with big investors and the folks that were helping first-time homebuyers, while the investor in the middle trying to piece the puzzle together themselves. These investors didn’t have systems in place and sometimes ingenuity or luck would help them get from 10 to 100 properties.  As an entrepreneur, you can sometimes just figure out how to make it happen.

But if you can get a process, a system, and know what works, then you can build more intelligently, you can make your acquisitions more intelligently, you can- Scale. 

 

You can scale more effectively knowing that what you’re doing is time honored, it’s proven, it’s tested and its got a whole lot of evidence behind it.

This is what prompted us two years ago to create a system to help investors. We took all of the ideas that had been building in our heads for the last 20 years and decided to make a business out of it with the goal to take it back local communities.

 

Mike Sammond: 

R.J. Cox:

Mike Sammond:

Laverne Cox:

Mike Sammond:

Laverne Cox:

Mike Sammond:

Laverne Cox:

Mike Sammond:

Laverne Cox:

Laverne Cox:

Laverne Cox:

Mike Sammond: 

R.J. Cox:

Mike Sammond: 

Laverne Cox: 

Mike Sammond: 

R,J. Cox:

R.J. Cox:

Mike Sammond:

R.J. Cox:

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R.J. Cox:

Laverne Cox:

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Laverne Cox:

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R.J., you mentioned you’re from Brooklyn.

Correct.

Laverne, you’re from Queens.

No, I’m from Brooklyn as well.

You’re both from Brooklyn.

Yeah.

You met up there?

Yes, we did.

What brought you down here to the Atlanta area?

Let me just quickly say, we met in Brooklyn and it’s primarily family and community that brought us to the Atlanta area. It’s also the heart of how we became entrepreneurial. R.J. and I would literally walk our neighborhoods, R.J.’s neighborhood is Crown Heights in Brooklyn and mine was Carnarsie. We would look at local business owners and apply the concepts in games like Sims City. We started to contemplate how to produce and develop Sims City like they we’re our community. We started to apply the game in real life and looked at abandoned buildings that had been historically vacant and evidence from the 80s said that these areas became crime havens. We wanted to find a way to get local investors involved in reinvesting, rehabbing, and redeveloping these areas, so that they could be the stimulus for growth in those communities.

At the time all we were idea people and we found that even though we were just idea people, that we could still spur people that have the money and that have the wherewithal to invest. We began the process of transforming neighborhoods. When we came to Atlanta, we came here with a dream of showing our family members how to invest. We wanted to maintain and develop our internal community and found that when R.J. started working within the Atlanta area, there was a missing piece. There wasn’t that local community effort. There was a disconnect from areas like Sandy Springs to Lawrenceville.

We recognized that disconnection was really preventing people from investing and becoming more deeply involved in those communities, so we started planning with the Lawrenceville City Council. We began planning their redevelopment. We realized that no one is going to do something that ultimately is within our hearts. Our heart is to develop and maintain, to establish and stabilize communities. The solutions really are prevalent in these multinational companies, but they haven’t been brought down to a simple solution for the everyday investor and that’s what we are doing for them.

We are creating simple solutions for every type of investor, with the goal of stabilizing communities.  

Are a lot of the folks you’re working within the communities you’re working within, are they all in this area? How far do you reach?

We’re throughout metro Atlanta. That’s home base. We also have satellite offices in Orlando and Jacksonville as well. We’re testing the theory market-by-market and saying, okay does this work here? Fantastic. Build out a blueprint, go into other areas, take the same principles, and expand from there. As far as the local investors, some are Duluth based. Many are throughout different counties and cities in the metro Atlanta area. Everybody has different preferences and different areas that they love to invest in. We look to say okay I get where you’re coming from, we know what you’re looking to do, here’s how we see a good way to make that work with your plans.

You’re not a typical real estate investment company, are you? You’re a little bit different.

No, we’re not a typical real estate investment company at all. We always reiterate that we are a brokerage. We do go about our mission of reestablishing and stabilizing communities by providing solutions to investors. At the end of the day, it’s really the investors that are committed to coming in and putting their dollars to work that really should be praised. If there’s no partnership and solutions for them, then they can’t thrive.

Ultimately the purpose of this business is to help investors thrive and to make their portfolios more resilient. The community benefits are a bonus, and the heart of our company, but we realize that investors value healthy returns and diverse portfolios.

 

By the way, we’re talking with R.J. and Laverne Cox with Evergreen Investment Realty here on Gwinnett Business Radio. What would you like to see happen in the Gwinnett community and the surrounding communities? What are some plans you would like to see?

Two things. One, when we first moved from New York, we saw the water tower off of 85 and it kind of programmed us that success lives here. Gwinnett is great. Oh, this is going to be a fabulous place to live. So when we set up roots in Lawrenceville, the first thing we wanted to do was be a part of that change. We knew that there were a lot of folks that were concerned about what this recession was going to be like and how long it was going to last, so we laced up our boots and said, hey how can I help? Went down to a local visitor’s center, where can I volunteer? What can I do? Started talking to the local officials and saying what can I put my hands into? How can I be a part of this change? This led to some appointments and some groups that we were a part of and I was honored to be a part of that conversation.

Two, we definitely would love to see more public transportation and lower commute times. I love the fact that we’re having this referendum to expand MARTA and bring that mass transit into Gwinnett. I think that’s going to be an ultimate game changer in the area. Having more access and more mobility for people to get back and forth is going to be something that allows people from further out to come into Gwinnett and call it home. With MARTA coming into Gwinnett, now you’re not dependent on having a reliable car to drive 30-35 miles. You’ve got options. For folks like us, who came from New York, who were used to mass transit, it feels a little bit more like home. It’s not such a foreign experience to man there’s no buses, there’s no trains, to there’s a train right here. I may have to drive to a depot but it’s not an unusual concept, whereas that’s what it was when we first came here.

Yeah. Coming from Brooklyn, it’s all mass transit up there. That’s how you get around.

Correct.

Also on the Gwinnett community side and keeping it hyper local, we want to make sure that we are investing in the things that matter to the members of our community. For example, we have invested with our local high schools, local city council meetings, and downtown development authorities. Ultimately we are looking for creating a stimuli for local investors to get that deeply involved as well.

 How do you find these investors or how do they find you?

There has been a lot of networking so far and as we stay connected in the local organizations like the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. We attend local community meetings with the City of Duluth and the other cities within Gwinnett. We tend to find those local business owners who know other investors or are investors themselves. We don’t really do a whole lot of billboard marketing. Instead, we find that person to person conversation in order to be the driving force behind our business. Talk to me Joe about what you’ve been doing. What are you looking to do? We come back with some good ideas and then they’re like, okay, that sounds good. Let’s see what we can work together on.

 

Also R.J.’s a little more bit more humble than I am. I’m really big on promotion. R.J. really has produced a record of award-winning work as far in regard to his work with institutional investors. So, what we are looking to do is grow our institutional investors but ultimately expand our landlords within the Gwinnett county area, whether that is in a single-family residential landlord to commercial. We are looking to ultimately generate people that want to invest and keep their money local.

Another thing that we are also very big on is making sure that our team members that join the team also are just as invested in their local communities. One of our Florida agents is apart of their local CIED. They stand out on their regional diversity council meetings. We want to ensure that we are providing not only resources for our investors who are our clients, but that our impact is felt and known. R.J and I are looking to connect with like-minded individuals that are looking to build their own investment portfolio, which is resilient and can stand the test of time.

 

Well, that just leads me right into the next question. For those that would like to find out more or have a conversation with either of you, how can they reach out to you and find out more about Evergreen Investment Realty?

Our website is EvergreenIR.com and from there you’ll find all of our social media outlets as well. Look for us in local community meetings and local city council meetings. We are involved to bring to the the cities that we live in.

Especially Twitter. Our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are keeping a updated event listing of where you can find an Evergreen Investment Realty member, specifically @GreenInvestGeorgia is our Twitter handle is.

And that’s probably all on the website too.

It is.

If you go to the website you could probably find it there and follow it from there. Well, great stuff. Congratulations on your success, continued success and thank you so much for coming in this morning and joining us here.

Thank you.

Thank you.

R.J. Cox and Laverne Cox with Evergreen Investment Realty here on Gwinnett Business Radio.

 

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