December 19, 2023

JF3393: The Benefits of Being Opportunistic ft. Martin Grizzanti




In this episode, we chat with Martin Grizzanti of Suplex Properties. Martin has over $20 million in AUM in the Rochester, New York area. Martin and Slocomb discuss their unique approaches to finding off-market deals, the power of partnerships, and the valuable lessons they've learned along the way in their investing journeys.

Key Takeaways:

  • Off-Market Opportunities: Marty and Slocomb emphasize the importance of creating your own market by actively seeking off-market deals. Their successful strategy involves cold calling, direct mail, and targeted marketing campaigns, which have proven to be effective in finding hidden opportunities.
  • The Value of Partnerships: The podcast highlights the significance of choosing the right partners in commercial real estate ventures. Marty shares a valuable lesson about the importance of having candid conversations about roles and expectations within a partnership before diving into a deal, ensuring a smoother and more equitable collaboration.
  • Continuous Learning: Whether it's exploring various asset classes or refining sales and marketing skills, they believe that continuous learning and adaptation are key to long-term success in the ever-evolving commercial real estate industry.

Martin Grizzanti | Real Estate Background



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Slocomb Reed (01:09.281)
Best ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I'm Slocomb Reed. Today we are joined by Martin Grizzanti. Martin is joining us from Rochester, New York. His company is Suplex Properties. Their portfolio is all focused in upstate New York within 30 minutes of Rochester. It includes residential, multifamily, industrial, a storage facility, possibly a couple other things too. It sounds like with a, with an assets under management around $20 million.

Martin, can you tell us a little bit more about your background and what you're currently focused on?

Martin Grizzanti (01:50.814)
Yeah, and Slocomb, thanks for having me. Big fan, grew up listening to this show, and it's all surreal. But yeah, a little background. I kind of had a different background. A lot of people get in real estate because they didn't like their job. I actually liked my job. I was actually pretty good at it. I was a sales guy, and just wanted more success faster than what they were willing to give me, and you kind of needed to play the political game at that company and I didn't really want to do that. And so I looked at, you know, hey, I'm in sales, you're doing well with these commissions, you know, what can I do to maybe not have to start at zero every month and real estate was a way you could, you know, continually get money every month instead of starting back at zero.

So found Bigger Pockets. Actually I was on Reddit, big shout out to Reddit and found Bigger Pockets and learned about rentals and the BRRRR strategy and then you know bought one with my partner Matt who's still my partner to this day on everything that we've done and do. He's my rock and we bought one and then we just kept the ball rolling and leaving our jobs two years in and the rest has been history.

Slocomb Reed (03:20.289)
When is it that you went full time in real estate investing?

Martin Grizzanti (03:25.422)
I went full-time real estate in 2017.

Slocomb Reed (03:33.477)
Gotcha. And do you all operate your own portfolio or have you hired managers?

Martin Grizzanti (03:41.846)
We operate it. Yep, we own it and operate it ourselves. And I would suggest everyone does that, at least for the first one or two, to kind of figure out what you're doing and then what you're gonna be paying for later on. But yeah, to this day, we still own and manage everything, anything that we own, we manage ourselves.

Slocomb Reed (04:12.389)
So you went full time in 2017. You're focused on the Rochester area. Do you raise capital from other, like passive investors for your deals?

Martin Grizzanti (04:28.414)
Yeah. So we started in residential and we kind of did stuff a little differently where we used other people's money right from the get go. And we realized how powerful that was OPM and what that could do to grow a portfolio. So we saw the magic of that very early on, not just for us, but for our investors. 

So starting residential, building up the residential portfolio of around 50 houses, single family. And then we started flipping houses in right around 2017. And we still do to this day, we have a really strong fix and flip division of the company. And those investors over time, we're very comfortable with those returns. And they were excited about what we were doing. And so when we pivoted to commercial, we were able to really transfer some of them over, right, to our larger multifamily or those larger commercial deals that we're doing and have done.

Slocomb Reed (05:48.057)
So you've been working with other investors, investing other people's money, growing as you go. We're recording in the fourth quarter of 2023. It sounds like you're fairly asset agnostic, but you're focused on your local area or drivable area for the sake of your own management and your own market expertise.

Assuming you're still in the acquisitions mode, Martin, where, um, where are you finding opportunity right now? Whether it be a certain asset class, a certain geography, uh, a certain class of property, you know, letter grades, where are you finding opportunity right now?

Martin Grizzanti (06:41.258)
Well, we're a sales and marketing company first, right? So we just happen to do real estate and we love real estate. So what do I mean by that? So we cut our teeth through on phone sales, right? Over the phone sales. And so we've developed a sales and marketing company that focuses on real estate. So we have a team of sales associates who are virtual where we'll cold call all day long. And so we're pulling lists, commercial lists from Rianomy or CoStar. And we're mailing those lists, we're texting those lists, and we're getting a lot of opportunity that way.

And so we have only bought off market. And we believe in the law of the first off market deal, which, you know, once you do an off market deal, it's really hard to then look at what's on the market. So we like to create our own market and have our own opportunities by doing that. So that's why it is a little agnostic is because we have been spread out to, you know, Hey, we like multifamily. That's where we're going. But we also have done industrial to sell this building, but I do have a storage facility that I would sell.

Okay, great, right? Now we're very much an opportunistic real estate investment company. So that's what we look for. We look for opportunities, something that we can get our hands on. Like, hey, does this make sense? You know, can we drive to this and just make sure that we can learn from this? You know, is it already occupied pretty good? Will the bank give us a loan on this? So is this gonna make money day one? That's kind of what we look for, especially if we're not 100% familiar with it, like that self storage facility. And then, oh, by the way, you partner with somebody who's gonna run it for you and knows what they're doing. But in regards to where are we finding assets, we're putting a lot of emphasis, a lot of time, and a lot of resources in our sales and marketing, and that's how we're finding deals.

Slocomb Reed (08:51.901)
So that's an excellent answer, Martin. I've asked this question a lot of times this quarter, the second half of 2023. So for the sake of our listeners and for the sake of continuity, when the question is where is the opportunity, where are the good opportunities, it sounds like your answer is having a system for getting off market or getting in front of off market opportunities. It hasn't really mattered pre-COVID, through COVID, post-COVID. The ability to get, to develop a system for getting off market opportunities in front of you consistently is where the real opportunity is.

Martin Grizzanti (09:41.554)
Right, right on. You know, you can't wait. I mean, look, we're not whimsical about our day here. We're not waiting for something to come across our desk, you know, from a broker that we can make an offer on. You know, the truth is where we are, because we are a newer company, in regards to the companies that are locally that have been doing this for, you know, generation after generation of family-owned and operated type of investment, you know, real estate investment companies, we just don't have the time, you know, that they have put in already, right?

So we kind of have to make up for that, right? We're not gonna get that deal, that really screaming hot deal. They're gonna, that's gonna be brought to some of the bigger players. So what do we gotta do to get in front of that? Well, we have to do it ourselves. And we're willing to do that. Because again, that's where we cut our teeth is through over the phone sales, right? So we have no problem cold calling. We have no problem following up. We have no problem being quote unquote annoying, right? Cause we know that's how you're gonna get a deal.

And we're we're very skilled in with what whatever systems are where we do have a CRM that automatically reaches out on our behalf, through a text message or an email to constantly follow up with that lead. Cause you know, as well as I know, it might take seven touches before that seller is ready to sell. And we want to be there when it does. Cause everybody on this, everyone listening has probably followed up with a seller before. And then they go, yeah, I just sold it. And you go, what, how does this happen?

And so worst case scenario is, you know, when that happens to you, right? So we don't want that to happen. So we want to be friend centered at all times, even though we don't have the luxury of the time or history of, of being in the market.

Slocomb Reed (12:17.849)
Tell us, tell us, yeah, Martin, tell us more about your decision to dive into the variety of asset classes that you have in your portfolio currently. Is it really just, um, what, whichever opportunity looks best, regardless of asset class, that's what you pounce on and figure out. Uh, or, or is it something else?

Martin Grizzanti (12:42.998)
Yeah, I think, you know, for us, it's finding the right opportunity, right? Cause that's what we're looking for. And then having the right partners that we can work with. Cause we're not, we don't need to take down everything by ourselves, completely 100%.

And so we like to find an expert in the field because it's not the how, it's the who. So if you can find somebody that's already done it and done it well and been successful, well then you bring them into the deal. Because like I said, we're deal first. We're reaching out. And if we come across something that, hey, this doesn't quite fit what we're experts in.

Who do we know that would wanna work with somebody like us that can maybe do the management on this? So with the 79 unit apartment building, we didn't really know how to do the due diligence on something like that or the full-time management. So we brought in two partners that did. And maybe that cut a lot of our equity out, but at the end of the day, we're in this for the long haul.

And it's not about one deal for us, it's we wanna do multiple smart, successful, long-term deals with long-term partners because that's, we're in this for 40, 50 years, right? I'm 34. So I wanna be doing this for a long time. So I wanna do it the right way, right? So I don't need to take it down by myself and learn the hard way. I'd rather have the people take a, maybe take less, but have something that's gonna be very successful and something that's gonna be able to grow. So yeah, it's really just finding the deal, right?

Cause that's how we can separate ourselves, right? It's finding the deal because then the right people will come and then the money will come. And at the same time, we can pivot if necessary. But yeah, just to be candid, yeah, it's, we find the right deal. We'll be able to find the right people to work that deal. And those people will be able to, you know, really run that properly.

Slocomb Reed (14:49.985)
What is it that you're doing to find partners for your deals, deal specific with the expertise already in that operation?

Martin Grizzanti (15:00.682)
Well, I think you have to be somebody that wants, somebody wants a partner with, right? And for me, it might be different than other people, but you know, I started a meetup. And I think that's kind of a slick trick for anybody listening that if there's something locally where maybe you don't really love the meetup or you think you could do something differently or you wanna have it done differently, whatever it might be. We had a local meetup here, a local real estate meetup in Rochester.

And I just wanted to do something a little different, something a little bit more, I guess, for what I thought were like the professionals, right? Not the beginners, so to speak. Nothing wrong with beginners, but just I wanted something that was gonna be a little bit more for the pros. And so I started one and then it really just built up. And so then, you know, all of a sudden you got 6,000 members, right? And it just brings a lot of credibility to you.

I also think, you know, I was posting a lot, you know, two years ago, I really made a mission to post having my own YouTube and podcast show. It just, I think people want to work with people that really care and are putting it out there. And I know that's going to turn some people off. Totally get it. Right. I'm not for everybody. But for the people who, Hey, this guy's really willing to put his name and, you know, he's really willing to put it out there on the line. I think that that attracts people.

And I was lucky enough to attract some really good partners who knew that I was serious about what I was doing and who knew that, hey, this is somebody that's not gonna go away. So they know what they're doing with finding the deal and I enjoyed their time enough to have a beer with them. And I like where their focus is and I think I know where they're going long-term.

And you got to get a shot, right? Someone's got to give you a shot on being a partner. And so I know partnerships are kind of tough and you got to make it all work. But if you're bringing the deal and you're going to bring the energy and you're going to bring the enthusiasm and you're going to be able to bring, in some of the deals, the money and raising the money and all that good stuff and helping management and helping. So you just, you find what you're going to be able to bring. And as long as that meshes with the other partners, then I think it's a good fit, but definitely, you know, being out there, putting myself out there, posting, having the videos, having the podcasts, was all very important for people to take me seriously and take my partner serious.

Slocomb Reed (17:42.285)
Martin, as you've built your portfolio through building your off market lead generation funnel, your sales and marketing business, doing real estate, acquiring these properties, executing on each one's business plan. I know this can be a tough question, but what's gone wrong along the way? What is it, what are some experiences you've had that our listeners can learn from?

Martin Grizzanti (18:24.902)
Early on buying in not so great areas Right. So we still have some gum on our shoe from when we first started buying In you know C and C minus type areas We're on paper. It looked fantastic and you kind of just those kind of just They stick with you for a little while so and then they make money and you make it work, but you know long term that's not the type of property we want to hold, right? And that was definitely one. You know, two is is really, I think, having a, is having a focus earlier on would have probably been helpful, right? If we would have went focused just on one, would have been beneficial so that we could have been the experts in one of those things.

But at the same time, we like having the, openness and creativity of working in different sections and sectors of an asset classes of real estate. I mean look we're 34 and if I didn't try some of these things then how would I know if I didn't like it right? So that might not be for everybody because you kind of have to take on some brain damage right? But if you're willing to and you're willing to you know eat some lumps because you're going through a learning curve on different asset classes, then bully for you, right?

And so you deserve it, but you deserve the good stuff. But at the same time, you know, would it have been simpler just to focus on one? Probably, right? But then I wouldn't have necessarily known that I liked industrial, right? So I guess there's pros and cons to that, but definitely buying in the right area earlier on would have been the better choice and the right choice if I could go back. But geez, I'm glad I found out at 35 not to buy there, not when I'm 55. Right? So, you know, it's hard to say because I've learned so much because of it. And I'm a better investor because of it.

Slocomb Reed (20:46.689)
Martin, I appreciate you sharing that. It makes a lot of sense. Are you ready for the best ever lightning round?

Martin Grizzanti (20:52.011)
Let's do it.

Slocomb Reed (20:53.849)
What is the best ever book you recently read?

Martin Grizzanti (20:58.238)
Never split the difference.

Slocomb Reed (21:00.709)
Chris Voss, great book on negotiations for sure. What is your best ever way to give back?

Martin Grizzanti (21:04.51)
It's fantastic. It's a great book.

The meetup group. That's really is the best way to give back because it's a great place for not just sharing your real estate war stories, but people need that. People need a community, people need to have a place for like-minded individuals. And yeah, it takes a good amount of time organizing and finding a place to go to and some investment in that end, but it's all worth it.

You know, when you can see everyone smiling, laughing, having a good time at a local establishment, and you know, it means a lot. And I think it means a lot to the people, it means a lot to me.

Slocomb Reed (21:55.417)
Martin, this may be related to what you were just saying, but speaking to a specific property that you've required, let's go with an example outside of buying in the wrong location, particular property you've required. What is the biggest mistake you've made and the best ever lesson that resulted from it?

Martin Grizzanti (22:18.262)
The biggest mistake we made was probably partnering with people in the beginning that didn't see the value in what we were bringing. And they didn't see the value in the finding of the deals and doing the calls and implementing the marketing and sales campaign. And we learned that you might want to have the conversations beforehand, having the hard conversations beforehand of what a partnership looks like and what you're gonna be bringing to the table beforehand is a lot easier than when you've already bought something and now you're trying to divvy it up when that partnership needs to disband, right? So I think having the candid conversations on what a partnership would look like in the beginning.

Even though that might be a little tough, because it can be just a conversation that is not always the most pleasant when you ask, what are you gonna bring to the table? I think it's gonna save you a lot of time and brain damage later on by having it early on.

Slocomb Reed (23:41.605)
Do you have any specific examples that you can share from an individual partnership?

Martin Grizzanti (23:47.926)
Well, we were working in a partnership where we were buying mobile home parks. And that was our role was the marketing and sale side. And we ended up getting like seven parts under contract. And when it came time to talk about you know, how we were going to, you know, break it up and have the equity, you know, splits and all that stuff, we were seen as very much a disposable. You know, what we were doing was, again, these were all off market that we brought to the table and what we were, our value just wasn't being seen, I think, as much as what we thought, right?

And, and again I don't fault them because we never really had those conversations in the beginning of what it was going to look like. We had all anticipated it was going to be split equally amongst the four, but you know, as you can't assume anything, okay, is really what it is. Is he really wanted in paper and written down and in front of everybody in the beginning? Because you don't want to get to that point of seven parks and then having to scramble to get paid under the gun. That wasn't the best.

But the beauty of that story is that was about maybe three years ago. Now today I'm actually working with the largest mobile home park owner in New York and we're doing their outbound marketing for them. And not only am I getting paid for it as a third party because they're not doing it. They don't know how to do it. They don't know. They don't want to do it. They don't have the system set up. They don't want to have the system set up. But we're also going to be getting equity in a way, in a roundabout way on those deals. It actually worked out fantastically because we're working with a bigger group that's doing better potentially because they're a larger group and they see the value in it because they tapped us. We didn't ask them before. They knew what we were doing, and they wanted some of it.

Slocomb Reed (26:15.629)
Yeah, there's a definite through line through the stories that you shared, Martin, uh, where you and your partner have, uh, demonstrated a willingness to take risks and, um, the, if they didn't pay off directly, the, um, the things you learned were accomplished through the process paid dividends afterwards. And that's a great example of that. Um, that you went ahead and got into mobile home parks because you knew that the deals were good. You made some mistakes along the way, but the actions that you took and the risks that you took are now paying off in another venture because you've had that experience.

Martin Grizzanti (27:01.558)
Yeah, it's not a waste of time, right? It was never a waste of time because we learned. And one of the things about what we do as cold callers, and I'm proud to say it, right? Some people are not proud to be a cold caller and I think you should be, but cold calling what it does is it, it will, it really will, it will make your learning time faster.

And what does that mean? Well, when you're having conversations with the owners of the different asset classes, the multifamily apartments, the mobile home parks, the industrial buildings, you're going to learn so much by talking to them. And you're going to learn their stories, and you're going to learn the lingo. And you're going to learn maybe what the demographic is of that seller. And so then you can, yeah, maybe you get hung up on, OK, no big deal. But you can use that story they were saying on that next call.

So your learning curve gets a lot shorter when you're willing to do the cold calling because you're willing to really get in there, right? You're willing to be in the arena with that seller. And I think they appreciate that in a way and they're, you know, you're willing to listen to their stories, but again, it's just going to make you a better sales person. And then really that's what we want to be. We want to be the best sales people that we can be. Cause we're, we know that if we can do that, that's the great, that's the great equalizer in this business.

Slocomb Reed (28:25.749)
Last question, Martin, where can people get in touch with you?

Martin Grizzanti (28:29.514)
They can come on Twitter. It's @LLCsuplex, but please like and subscribe the Marty Grizzanti show. You can find me on my podcast, the Marty Grizzanti show, YouTube, the Marty Grizzanti show. Check me out.

Slocomb Reed (28:47.917)
Those links are in the show notes. Martin, thank you. Best ever listeners, thank you as well for tuning in. If you've gained value from this episode, please do subscribe to our show. Leave us a five star review and share this episode with a friend you know we can add value to through our conversation today. Thank you and have a best ever day.

Martin Grizzanti (29:08.322)
Thanks, Slocomb. I appreciate you guys. And remember to cold call. Get it in.

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