You must see the opportunity when others can’t
Contractor tip of the month
By Damian Lang
I should have bought it. I should have moved on it. I should have done it. Ever hear someone say that when discussing a piece of equipment or house or property someone else bought at a fraction of its worth? Ever have someone tell you, “I came across that before,” upon seeing something that evolved into a great investment? When it was for sale, the one who moved on it and bought it saw something others did not see. For the “I should have” folks, opportunity slipped away, and is most likely gone forever.
I am on a plane coming back from Newfoundland, Canada, where some friends and I hunted moose. My knees are swollen and sore, but my spirit is high. We traversed miles of swamp, brush, meadows, creeks and craggy rock in search of the highest point. There, we used binoculars to locate moose. Once an acceptable moose was spotted from afar, we would go after it.
The wind, at its wildest, blew 20 to 40 miles per hour. It was something even this long-time hunter never experienced. On a frigid perch, my vision was focused for miles every direction. However, unless it was standing in plain sight, I just could not seem to spot a moose on my own.
On one side of me, a few feet away, Henry, my guide, searched areas of the landscape, while I the other. On the last day of the hunt, Henry came to my side, and sat down next to me to have lunch. In doing so, he looked through his binoculars, spotted a hefty moose and pointed it out. Right there it was. I said, “You got to be kidding me. I have been starring down there until my neck and arms are sore holding the binoculars, and I did not see that moose.”
What one person sees, another may not. In business, you must be able to see the opportunity where others may not. This gets you the rewards. And, when you do see it, you must move. If you don’t, the opportunity may be gone forever.
Recently, I came across a hefty opportunity set within 19 acres – a group of factory buildings. I had toured the property before, and knew the story on it. In my mind, I knew the potential revenue it could create, should I ever get a chance to pick it up.
Three days before I left for the moose hunt, I was sitting in my office, when our plant manager called to say he had a guy interested in renting some factory space. He said the guy thought he would have to move as the Malta Window factory, buildings and property were being sold at a bankruptcy auction today. There it was. My space! It had come up for sale.
Immediately, I rang an economic director I knew in the area to get the scoop on the sale. He informed me that the complex was, in fact, going to be auctioned off at 11 a.m. “Today?” I asked. “Today,” he said.
I looked at my watch. It was 10:35 a.m. The factory was 35 minutes away. I focused and moved. I got our CFO, gave him a quick rundown, told him to grab a check for a deposit, in case we won the bid. I said I would give him the rest of the details on the way. In route, I called one of my managers who was near the site, and instructed him to get to the auction, sign me in, and bid up to $1.4 million, then stall until I got there, in case it went higher. We arrived at 11:20 a.m. The auctioneer had agreed not to begin the auction until I arrived. At 11:40 a.m., I raised my hand to make the final bid at $1.6 million. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I would soon own the facilities and property in 65 minutes, like that. Yet, not like that, as I did my research and knew how to spot an opportunity like this, should it ever appear.
Opportunities don’t send fancy invitations. When they do present themselves, you need to be aware, realize it and move. A diamond’s first look is coal. A great opportunity may not look like much until it is developed. If you do your own research in advance, you will be able to see a tremendous opportunity when others around you may not.
Henry’s hunting ability helped me spot an opportunity, and soon that moose will be mounted and hanging on my office wall. After researching, spotting and then moving at the first opportunity, I hope to have that piece of property that will evolve into a good investment. It was a good week.
About the Author
Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-749-3512.