Chief Operations Officer at Stromberg Investment Group
Melissa Hamaker spent many years in commercial insurance before shifting to a career in real estate five years ago. As a busy mom she realized she needed a change from insurance and was eager to learn something new. She started part time at Stromberg Investment Group and quickly moved up the ranks. Now she manages employees, operations, and closings and determines the company’s markets. As COO, Hamaker keeps “the train on its tracks” at SIG.
Here is more of her story:
What is your real estate investing start-up story?
“I took a part time position with Stromberg Investment Group working in the leasing department answering the phone and assisting potential tenants. My work caught the attention of SIG’s CEO Glenn Stromberg as I began noticing ways to improve processes and issues within the company. I remember clearly sitting in my first quarterly meeting when he asked a question no one wanted to answer, one that required an answer that showed a weakness and problem within a process. I raised my hand and answered his question with honesty and without reservation and from that point on nothing was the same. I began assisting and training under him and operating in all areas of the company and the rest is history.
With hard work and a fabulous team, we have taken Stromberg Investments from a small operation of four employees in one state with a couple purchases a month to a multimillion-dollar company in four states with over 11 employees and countless sub-contractors. We deploy well over five million dollars of investment capital per year, manage 400+ properties, and close on average 12 properties a month.”
What niche of REI do you prefer and why?
“It’s no secret what our company niche is—manufactured homes! What people don’t know is how lucrative they are. People dismiss them picturing the 1970s tin siding home that nobody wants to touch, and that is simply NOT what we deal with. We purchase manufactured homes on land that are titled and insured as real property just like a single-family home. The beauty of what we do is our price points are half that of a single-family home and they cash low better for the investor. While we dabble in fix and flips, land buying and other areas of real estate, our bread and butter is mobile homes, and they are a cash monster!”
What characteristics do you exhibit that have made you successful?
“I am a no-nonsense person. I expect a tremendous amount out of the people that work with me, but I expect the same from myself. I am a meticulous, analytical, and logical thinker. Most would say I am a bold person who overthinks most things before I make a move on them. By the time I open my mouth with an idea or process I have already run through every scenario that could go wrong or right with it and have a contingency plan for all of them. I have no problem speaking up and making my opinions known. As a woman, oftentimes it is hard to allow yourself to be bold and heard, but I have found speaking up is a requirement to be successful.”
What is a trait you exhibit that has held you back, and did you change from recognizing it?
“My biggest weakness that I have to make a conscious effort to overcome is my ability to seem unapproachable. I spend a lot of time in my own head, thinking and processing and what that translates to on the outside is someone not easy to approach. I have had to work on bringing out my extroverted self and it’s something I practice daily. Recognizing this as a weakness allowed me to harness it and manage it. Recognizing your weakness, whether business or personal, does not make you vulnerable—it makes you stronger. You cannot work on what you do not acknowledge.”
When things get tough, how do you get going?
“I find peace in the fast-paced world of real estate. It’s when things get quiet that I start to panic. Learning how to balance the stress of your workplace is something that will propel your career forward. The ability to remain calm when everyone else’s pants are on fire allows leaders to make decisions that are well planned as opposed to throwing answers out and seeing what sticks. However, on the days I want to escape and realign my thoughts, I jump on my Peloton and block everything out long enough to sweat it out.”
Best advice for new investors?
“Knowledge is your greatest guard against being taken advantage of in real estate. You cannot defend yourself against things you do not understand. Find yourself a group of like-minded investors and learn from them. One of the best things we do in our company is participate in masterminds to surround ourselves with people that have been where we want to go and to learn from them. Find someone who has been where you want to be and learn from them.”
Best advice for seasoned investors?
“Diversify! Do not put all your eggs in one basket. You would not buy a box of crayons that only had blue crayons in the box and your portfolio should be no different. Purchase in different markets, own different types of real estate, work with different providers or companies to purchase those properties and make sure you know, like and trust anyone you do business with.”
Why is the real estate industry good for women?
“Real estate allows women to be successful and have a wonderful professional life while also having a personal life. While it is true ‘real estate never sleeps,’ I think women in general have a wonderful ability to multitask and prioritize, and the flexibility of real estate makes it the perfect opportunity for women who want it all. I do not think women should ever have to choose between family and career and as a wife and a mother of three daughters, real estate has allowed me to find my passion professionally and still pack school lunches and be at most pick-ups.”
You can learn more at www.stromberginvestmentgroup.com or connect with Melissa on LinkedIn.