Like so many businesses, we love to make our five- and 10-year plans to guide us into the future.
Several years ago, we kicked around the idea of purchasing a property for our company. At first, it seemed like a far-fetched dream. The prices to purchase even a small office in New York City were astronomical and way outside of our budget. Perhaps if we acted on this years ago, we could have afforded something in one of the outer boroughs, but now that window was firmly shut as prices are high everywhere around New York City. But it still drove us crazy to pay so much money in rent every month and get nothing in return.
But with the onset of a worldwide pandemic, we made swift actions that radically changed our company.
As the world changed around us, we made the decision to reacquire our New Jersey and Pennsylvania branch. Several years earlier, we broke it off as a separate company owned by our director of operations.
Not only did the acquisition give us immediate, cost-saving benefits across the board, While many people might not feel comfortable making a significant purchase in the middle of the pandemic, I strongly believed it was the perfect time. Real estate prices were falling, and as vaccines were being rolled out, the end of the pandemic was in sight.
We began by looking at an area within 30 minutes of New York City. We quickly discovered this offered us a huge variety of towns and communities. We had to make many decisions to stay focused. Did we want an industrial area or a residential community? Together, we made a checklist of what was most important for us both for the building and the community.
Somehow, the very first property we looked at checked off nearly everything we were looking for. The location was perfect, giving easy access to highways and public transportation into New York City. Plus, it had perfect space for administrative offices, supplies and vehicles.
As we began the process, I quickly found out that a commercial real estate transaction is far more involved than residential real estate. It seemed like every possible roadblock we could hit popped up every step of the way.
The property is located directly on a river. While this gives us beautiful views, it also placed us in a flood zone. This required special building inspections by structural engineers to verify the building was sound. We also needed special elevation reports in order to get flood insurance.
One of the things we love about the building also gave us the biggest headache. The property began as a gas station. This gave us garage space and three garage door bays. Even though we had all the documentation showing the full cleanup and remediation was completed years before, we hit issues with this every step of the way. Literally, up to the day before closing.
Once we finally took possession, the real fun began. My son Zack and I did some of the basic renovations, but the building was neglected for a while and required a lot of work we were not capable of handling ourselves.
Having grown up in our family pest control business, I have customer service ingrained in me. You do whatever it takes to keep that customer happy. I honestly couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get contractors to give us an estimate or even just call you back. Fortunately, bit by bit we were able to find the right companies and everything fell into place.
While we always had nice, functional offices, one thing was missing. We never had a home. In New York City, we were never a visible part of a neighborhood. Everything changed with this property. We have become part of the community. From the first day we put that banner outside, people started stopping in and calling for services. At our open house, we had the mayor and members of the town council for the ribbon cutting. We have truly found the home to plant our roots and grow into the future.