We had the good fortune of connecting with Philippe Pellerin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Philippe, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is a necessary consideration in life. Human instinct is intrinsically tied to how people perceive and interact with the world. Often, ones success or failure is based on their judgment and management of that risk. Taking and managing risk is an especially central consideration in Real Estate Development. Every day I make investment decisions that will play out over 2-10+ years. In my personal life, risk can be a stressful part of parenting (like hiking with my kids and freaking out about the potential for an accident) or part of a very rewarding experience, as is the case in Wheel to Wheel Racing. Most people who know me would probably suggest I am not risk averse; but that is not the whole story. I do not blindly take risk; either personally or professionally. I accept that risk exists, I analyze it from every angle and then I do everything I can to mitigate the risk.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Pellerin Real Estate was formed in April 2011, on the tail end of the Great Financial Crisis. In the early days, I did anything to make ends meet; including cutting grass, laying tile and painting homes. I leveraged everything I had to buy fixer upper foreclosures that plagued my in-town neighborhood of Peoplestown and Summerhill (I lived on the line) and I pursued every single opportunity I could find that included real estate. The hustle was beyond real, it absolutely engulfed me. This experience brought me into the Affordable Housing sector, working with City and Non-Profit to provide permanent, for-sale housing to Low and Moderate Income Families. It was an incredibly rewarding experience that brought me to the realization that I wanted to focus my efforts into my community to improve it for the current and future residents. In 2014, I bought my first commercial asset in Grant Park which became a success. Another followed and then another. By 2016, I knew I had to focus my efforts on the facets of Real Estate where my passion was centered. This focusing of effort took two forms: 1. First centered on picking my customer. See, I was doing both “fee development” (as in development for other people) and on my account (as in projects I at least partially owned and was the sponsor of). I really wanted to be my only customer. This was scary because of the risk it entailed. Taking this leap would mean leaving behind steady income and now assuming all the risk that I was otherwise just managing for other people. 2. It was time to specialize. I was splitting my time between commercial and residential development and since I was still a one man company – it was a lot to manage. By this time, I had renovated approximately 400 single homes and was really burned out on the small deal size (typically under $200-300K) and the emotion that is inescapable when building someone their home (totally understandable). Commercial development is where i started in my career and I was ready to make that my specialty. Once these decisions were made, and the ground work was laid, explosive growth followed. Since 2016, the company has grown from 1 person to 4 with an incredible network of third party contractors and consultants which extend the companies ability to punch far above its weight. Typical deal size has increased from 1-3 million to where we are today which is $15-$50million. We are now charging full steam ahead into the Residential Mixed Use arena with our www.themarbut.com and 450 Capitol Ave projects. Even with this growth, I remain committed to my community of Southeast Atlanta. I continue to show up at neighborhood meetings. I am committed to keeping our tenant base locally based and reflective of the diversity that makes up our community. We have done in the past 5 years what many told me was not possible in 2016 – proven the market for commercial real estate south of I-20 without signing a single national, credit tenant chain. I am incredibly proud of that and so very grateful to the businesses who put their trust in our projects to make a home for their business.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
What a question to answer in the time of Covid. To eat, We would definitely hit the Beacon (www.thebeaconatlanta.com) where we could hit any of the 9 food and beverage spaces like Buteco for traditional brazilian food, music and drinks. Another time we would absolutely beg our way into Bocca Lupo on edgewood ave for the best pasta in the city. To Drink. Definitely get out in EAV for some awesome music in a dive bar or night club like The Basement. to Visit, Grant Park and Zoo Atlanta; possibly checking out the Atlanta Preservation Center and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Also, walking the Southside Beltline trail while still interim. There is something electrifying about the interim trail as gravel and not super packed. Lastly, we would take a trip out to Weiss Lake. Not Atlanta but of the metro area lakes, definitely my favorite. The lighting, the trees and the topography are like nothing else in the region.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been blessed with a network of incredible mentors since childhood. To point at 1 institution or person would be doing a great disservice to the many close friends & family members, business partners and examples, who have had a hand in my success. I can say with certainty that the people who have shaped me as a person most were the ones that did not put up with anything less then rigorous honesty and holding me accountable to my hopes and dreams. No one has put more effort into forming me as a business person than my wife Amanda who holds me to the highest standards and keeps me honest. Working my my father for 7 years out of college bestowed on me an innate sense of what real estate development was. This honed my skills in the industry and provided the tactical intuition necessary to grow in my own right. My Mother for pushing me to see beyond the financial side of the industry and focus instead on the impact my buildings and projects have on people. To my two closest advisers, they know who they are, that have pushed me to be my greatest, fight for the ideals that make our projects successful and to never sell myself short. In short, you need a team that gives you the confidence to pursue your dreams and the grounding to keep your feet planted in reality.
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