12 June 2023

In this week’s episode, Patrick Donley (@jpatrickdonley) sits down with William Rojas to discuss what he learned on and off the football field at USC, how he gained valuable experience in the world of institutional real estate, how he transitioned from his W-2 position to launch his company, TRG Investments, and much more!

William is a real estate investor & developer with a track record of over $1.5 Billion in closed transactions. He co-founded and is the Managing Partner of TRG Investments, a vertically integrated real estate firm focusing on ground-up and value-add multifamily projects in Southern California and Texas.



  • What playing football for USC was like for William and what he learned.
  • How he took advantage of extra-curriculars at USC to prepare for a real estate career.
  • What he learned working on job sites with his grandfather and father.
  • What he learned from working in the CRE world.
  • His top tips on entering the world of CRE.
  • How today’s environment compares to the 2008 GFC.
  • What you need to have in place to prepare for a downturn.
  • How he transitioned to running his own company.
  • What his first real estate investment looked like and how he added value to it.
  • How having in-house construction provides his competitive edge.
  • How he transitioned away from his W-2 job during the pandemic.
  • How to be aware of the dangers of comparison.
  • The pros and cons of working with family.
  • What his current projects look like.
  • And much, much more!


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

[00:00:02] William Rojas: Playing defense in college. Wide receiver at was guarding. He had three or four different options he could do, and depending on what he did, I had to adapt to that, similar to business, similar to real estate.

[00:00:16] Patrick Donley: Hey everybody. In this week’s episode, I got to sit down with William Rojas to chat about what he learned on and off the football field at USC, how he gained valuable experience in the world of institutional real estate, how he transitioned from his W2 position to launch his own company, TRG Investments and a whole lot more.

[00:00:33] Patrick Donley: William is a real estate investor and developer with a track record of over 1.5 billion in closed transactions he co-founded and is the managing partner of TRG Investments, a vertically integrated real estate firm focusing on ground up and value add multi-family projects in Southern California and Texas.

[00:00:51] Patrick Donley: I think you guys are really going to enjoy this interview with Will. I loved hearing about how the discipline of football prepared him for success in real estate, what it’s been like transitioning away from his W2 job into running his own company, TRG Investments, and what his plans for the future are.

[00:01:06] Patrick Donley: There’s a lot of value in this episode, so I hope you enjoy it. And so without further delay, let’s jump into this week’s episode with William Rojas.

[00:01:19] Intro: You are listening to Real Estate 101 by The Investor’s Podcast Network, where your hosts Robert Leonard and Patrick Donley, interview successful investors from various real estate investing niches to help educate you on your real estate investing journey.

[00:01:42] Patrick Donley: Hey everybody. Welcome to the Real Estate 101 Show. I’m your host today, Patrick Donley, and with me today is Mr. William Rojas. Will welcome to the show. 

[00:01:50] William Rojas: Hey Patrick, thank you for having me. Pleasure to be here. 

[00:01:53] Patrick Donley: I’m excited to talk with you today. We’ve had a chance to talk on the phone yesterday and a little bit here before the interview started, and I’m eager to jump in to your real estate journey.

[00:02:02] Patrick Donley: But I first wanted to talk a little bit about football. I know growing up you kind of had your set site on Division one football and ended up playing at USC, which is really cool. I want to hear more about that. You played with a guy that we actually interviewed a couple months ago. Devon Kennard, DK, I think is his nickname, who’s recently come out with a book.

[00:02:22] Patrick Donley: We can talk about that, but I wanted to hear a little bit more about, for you specifically, like just some lessons and skills that you developed in football. That have carried over into your real estate career. And then you also made a comment to me on the phone that I thought was interesting. A couple points about why you think it’s not uncommon for whether it’s college or NFL football players to do end up doing really well in real estate.

[00:02:47] Patrick Donley: So if we could kind of go into those two points, that would be a good place to start. 

[00:02:52] William Rojas: Absolutely. Growing up I was a huge sports fan, gravitated towards football. I went to USC football games during the Pete Carro, Reggie Bush, Matt Lineer era, the golden Age as a lot of people referred to it was very spoiled seeing championships and great games.

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[00:03:09] William Rojas: Sell in love with it, pursued it myself. I played all sports growing up, basketball, baseball, football, and when I got to high school I specialized and gravitated more towards football. Was a quarterback, also played defense and life lessons that you learned just playing football. I mean, it’s a gladiator warrior sport, right?

[00:03:29] William Rojas: You have to have an immense level of attention to detail, to execute the game plan while you are being essentially attacked by another person trying to, it’s like playing paint on you. We always set out on kickoffs, right? Keep your head on a swivel because things are coming at you. And that’s an analogy for life, right?

[00:03:50] William Rojas: Things are always going to be thrown your way. You always gotta be aware. I think some of the attributes that I took away from just playing football was grit. Being able to dig deep when you’re tired and you’re running sprints to make it to the finish line, you can use that in life, right? When you’re working hard, you don’t want to go and finish that extra document you’re reviewing or send out that last email, but that’s the difference, right?

[00:04:13] William Rojas: Continuing to push, also learned a lot about myself, just being able to balance a lot of different things, knowing what my game plan was and how to adapt to it, depending on the situation. And that’s real estate. Playing defense in college wide receiver that was guarding, he had three or four different options he could do.

[00:04:30] William Rojas: And depending on what he did, I had to adapt to that. Similar to business, similar to real estate, if you are buying a project and you’re late on construction, then you have a refinance coming and you have to get leases in place. You have to be aware of all different scenarios that could take place. So I use that, just life lessons more than anything.

[00:04:51] William Rojas: And then Damon Kenard, a buddy of mine, he’s a couple years younger than me, but you could tell as a freshman and as a younger underclassman that he had a great head on his shoulders, very mature. That’s one of the biggest things I saw in college football. The guys that made it to the n l were very mature from an early age.

[00:05:12] William Rojas: And DK we’ve caught up over real estate and life and other things. And he just wrote a book on financial literacy. And what’s the name of the book? Do you recall? It all adds up, I believe is what I read. He’s paving the way for other athletes and other individuals to break into real estate investing.

[00:05:29] Patrick Donley: He had an interesting story to me when he got drafted into the NFL. He is got a pretty decent size salary compared to most people, 22 or whatever age, he was, when he got drafted, he ended up still driving his high school car, like throughout his first couple seasons in the NFL.

[00:05:44] Patrick Donley: Like that kind of ability to delay gratification and to save really has kind of set him up for the path 

[00:05:51] Patrick Donley: that he’s on now. And we kind of went into, there’s a lot of, 

[00:05:54] Patrick Donley: whether it’s football, basketball, whatever, there’s a lot of players that end up after their professional career with not much to show for it.

[00:06:01] Patrick Donley: There’s a 30 for 30 called broke about that, just how, I forget the percentage, but there’s a huge amount of professional, I think it was in this case, basketball players that ended up broke. 

[00:06:13] Patrick Donley: Of course. Yeah. Just a testament to what you were saying. Really mature guy who had his head on straight and knew what he wanted to do.

[00:06:19] Patrick Donley: I wanted to get about your story though. Was real estate going into U S C something that you knew you were going to pursue or did you have other career plans or ideas at that time when you were playing football, you were doing a lot of extra-curriculars too outside of football that I want to touch on, but was real estate your main focus at that age? At a young age?

[00:06:42] William Rojas: I grew up on real estate sites and construction sites. My grandfather is a real estate investor. He ran a commercial landscaping company but gravitated to real estate investing here and in Mexico. And then my father was a general contractor, so my earliest memories and childhood was getting woken up on the summer to go to a job site.

[00:07:04] William Rojas: And I learned very hard lessons early on that if you don’t go to school and you don’t get an education, There’s a job waiting for you, but it’s going to be in the hot sun and it’s going to be a lot of hard work. That was all the incentive I needed to work hard academically and get a job, what I called an air conditioning job.

[00:07:23] William Rojas: When you went to USC, you ended up studying what was your focus? I got into the business school, martial school of Business, and Marshall had a uni program where you could kind of customize your curriculum. So I took majority of my classes in real estate finance, but I also took some entrepreneurship classes and then I also took some other just operational classes, not sure what I wanted to do.

[00:07:47] William Rojas: When I got into the business school I took a finance class my junior year, and a lot of my peers in that class were talking about this industry that I ha, I had never heard of, called investment banking, and they said, oh, it’s the hardest industry to get into. It’s very demanding, very competitive.

[00:08:04] William Rojas: So, of course, I wrote it down and went to work studying and I got an internship at an investment bank in Los Angeles. Did that for a summer and hated it. I, all I wanted to do was be staffed on the real estate deals. We were doing leverage buyouts, we were doing recapitalizations of companies, we were raising equity for a sunscreen company.

[00:08:25] William Rojas: And I was like, this is great skills. The first day I was there, they disconnected my mouse and they said, you’re going to learn how to do Excel modeling the real way. So you had to learn hockey, which was a very tough week, but very thankful for that experience thereafter, and realized early on after that internship that I wanted to do real estate and shifted my focus to brokerage, did an internship there, then started recruiting for other opportunities, and this was coming out of the great financial crisis.

[00:08:56] William Rojas: Acquisition jobs weren’t as readily available. There was a lot of workouts and similar to an environment we might be entering right now of distress and turmoil and volatility. That’s where I kind of put my head after business school. 

[00:09:09] Patrick Donley: So I want to take a step back and talk a little bit more about college.

[00:09:13] Patrick Donley: You, as I mentioned, you weren’t doing just football. You were a pretty active guy in a lot of different organizations. Can you talk about some of those groups that you were involved in and just how that kind of set you up too for your later success in real estate? 

[00:09:28] William Rojas: Absolutely. I was first-generation college student.

[00:09:31] William Rojas: My parents didn’t go to college even though they worked very hard and put a strong emphasis on education While we were afforded a great private Catholic school education all through our early years and through high school. When I got to USC, It was a bit overwhelming. I didn’t really know where I wanted to spend my time and how to compete with my peers who seemed so much ahead of me, just because even in high school they were doing internships or shadowing their parents or meeting their parents friends that were at law firms.

[00:10:00] William Rojas: I didn’t know where to start. So I had a couple of friends that were part of the Latino Business Club. I’m Mexican American, and I first started going to those club organizations. They welcomed me in, they have Fortune 500 companies that would come in, sponsor one event per week, and certain events. So I learned how to put a resume together.

[00:10:20] William Rojas: I learned how to network, how to dress, how to conduct yourself in a professional setting. Right. And these were Fortune 500 companies, Nestle, Macy’s, the big four accounting firms were very instrumental in giving back. So I started with the Latino Business Club and quickly realized I needed to focus on more finance and real estate.

[00:10:41] William Rojas: Second club I joined was the Trojan Real Estate Club, where I got immersed with a lot of people that had similar interests, real estate, right? Development, leasing instruction, property management, all different facets. Guest speakers were there every week just sharing their experience with us. So stayed very involved with that.

[00:11:00] William Rojas: The third organization was a fraternity on frat row, traditional fraternity, where a lot of my fraternity brothers are for all, all over the country, right? You got people from Greenwich, Connecticut, you got people from Florida, and Texas, all of different socioeconomic backgrounds. That’s when I started learning about what trust funds were and kids had access to these, or we’re going to be getting access to these and made friends with a lot of those individuals.

[00:11:24] William Rojas: And then in between there, I walked onto the football team. And, for me, it was very imperative to get the whole USC, University of Southern California experience. I didn’t want to go there and just have my bubble of these friends or these friends. I wanted to meet everybody and I took a strong interest in that.

[00:11:42] William Rojas: I have friends today that were in my wedding or at my wedding, or that I hang out with now with our kids that, we were part of the real estate club together, or we were, in a fraternity together. And at the time I didn’t realize I was networking. I just connect with people, figuring out what we had in common and, getting to know each other.

[00:12:03] William Rojas: And it, it’s been great as that I’ve grown up in my professional career. 

[00:12:07] Patrick Donley: I wanted to hear a little bit more about football in one of the podcasts that I listened to in doing my research for our interview, you talked about being a big fan of Kobe Bryant and the Mamba mentality. Do you think that’s something that is just inborn in a person?

[00:12:24] Patrick Donley: Like I know you’ve got a couple of kids and I’m just interested if you think that’s something that could be developed or is it just there or it’s not? 

[00:12:33] Patrick Donley: I wanted to hear your thoughts on that. 

[00:12:36] William Rojas: I Personally think it’s there and not really developable. You have to have that killer mentality. And I’m coaching a little league team for my four-year-old right now, and I can see at four years old the kids that have it and the others that don’t.

[00:12:51] William Rojas: That’s not to say they won’t get it. I think it would be rare. But for me, I look at my childhood and a lot of my friends would play video games or be doing a lot of other things, and I was setting up cones in the backyard, doing drills from a camp. I learned and perfected it. Right. And then, as technology grew and content grew and you started hearing Kobe and Jordan and all these other competitive athletes to be at the top of your game, you have to put in more work than everybody else.

[00:13:23] William Rojas: Right. And I tell my son, this now is, going to be five. I was like, look, you want to be on the All-Star team for this little league? Well, Saturdays and Sundays, practicing for one hour is not going to get you, we have to do tee-ball after. And then I let him ask me to go practice. Now I tell him what the goal is and how you get there, and I let him tell me.

[00:13:41] William Rojas: And if Tito didn’t want to practice, I would leave it. But now he’s saying I want to be on the Eagles, which is the all-star team. He’s asking me to practice. So most of it is want, some of it has to be taught how to get there. But Kobe’s been a big role model in my life, just from far away. 

[00:13:58] Patrick Donley: And your son is four years old, you said?

[00:14:00] Patrick Donley: And he, you can see kind of the hunger and the drive in him already? 

[00:14:04] William Rojas: I do, yeah. He’s four now. He’s going to be five. And he’s very competitive. I wonder where he gets that from. And then we have a one and a half year 15 month old as well. Too early to tell with him. But feisty baby personalities.

[00:14:19] Patrick Donley: It’s just an interesting question to me, the nature nurture idea and what, you know if you can develop it, and I do think it can be developed to some degree, but it’s, I agree with you. It’s like it’s there or it’s not. And if it’s there, like you can really ride with it. And I wanted to talk a little bit more, like you mentioned the internship that you did for the investment banking kind of sounded like that quickly, you realized that was not for you.

[00:14:43] Patrick Donley: What were your next steps after graduating from USC? What year did you graduate? First you mentioned the great financial crisis. Talk to me about like what was going on in economically and then just your next steps coming out of college. 

[00:14:59] William Rojas: Did investment banking all throughout college. Oh eight through 2011 when I graduated, I was seeing different points of the economic collapse.

[00:15:09] William Rojas: Right. First it was the rumblings of Lehman and Bear Stearns, and then it was, thanks actually collapsing and Liquidly drying up. These were all realtime discussions in our classes, so it was very interesting. And then I was after school, or on break was doing internships or coffee meetings and hearing realtime what people were doing.

[00:15:29] William Rojas: I remember speaking with some of the brokers, apartment brokers, and they were talking about how great of years they had, 6 0 7 and then oh 8, 0 9, they were salvaging anything that was left. Anything to sell just to get commission checks. That was an eye-opening experience to learn from. I started Gorilla Networking and what I mean by that is I was going to, events that I wasn’t supposed to be at, just getting in and meeting people.

[00:15:55] William Rojas: We had business cards in the business school that I was handing out to people. I was guessing people’s emails from Sherms that I couldn’t get ahold of. First name dot last name, dot firm name. Bounce back then. I would say first name, last or first letter, last name, bounce back on the fifth. Try God. I didn’t get a bounce back and, I would put USC football players seeking advice and I got people to open it.

[00:16:20] William Rojas: And then from there kind of figured out where I wanted to go. It was very important to me to get the biggest brand name out of school. Right. I always figured that if I wanted to go to a more entrepreneurial firm, start my own firm, I could do that down the road. But I wanted to be part of an analyst program that had the big brand name and connotation behind it.

[00:16:40] William Rojas: And the diligence was done to get into that program, right? So I started at Wells Fargo in their institutional real estate lending group. I was in the San Diego office. We were banking, we were doing bridge loans and construction loans for home builders, for public REITs and for the very well capitalized sponsors in Southern California.

[00:17:03] William Rojas: Did that for two years and got a great experience on the lending side of the business and understanding creditworthiness and financial analysis to borrowers. That’s how I started my career. 

[00:17:14] Patrick Donley: So were you doing the underwriting for those bridge loans and or what exactly was your role at Wells Fargo?

[00:17:20] William Rojas: I was in the analyst program. I had a relationship manager, which was a vice president and the head of our group that I reported to. And part of my job, I would say 50% of my job was screening new loans that came in and that was taking the sponsor, developer borrowers proforma or projections, lining it up with in place cash flow, solving for a debt yield or a debt constant.

[00:17:45] William Rojas: Then doing a little more analysis if we actually would issue a term sheet. Then it was starting to, and they agreed upon the term sheet. Then it was starting to take it through loan closing process. That was one part of my job. The other part was loan asset management, portfolio management, taking the financials every month from the c f O of these companies that were sending it to me, a 22-year-old analyst.

[00:18:08] William Rojas: And I was going through our debt covenants in the loan docs to see if everything was being met through the thresholds of debt service, coverage ratio, net worth, liquidity, other items. So just starting to make sure that the loans were performing as the planned. 

[00:18:24] Patrick Donley: So, great training. What was your next step, and I also wanted to hear your thoughts on a younger person in a similar spot.

[00:18:32] Patrick Donley: Moses Kagan brought up, this was a month or two ago, just advice on what people would say that were further along in their careers to a young person about how to break into commercial real estate. And you kind of gave some ideas about the emails and, gorilla, what did you call it?

[00:18:48] Patrick Donley: Gorilla networking. I liked that. Do you have any other ideas on how a younger person can get into commercial real estate and once they’re like, how to succeed in it? Because it’s also very difficult once you are there, 

[00:19:00] William Rojas: I would say you have to be relentless. You can’t time the market, right? You can be entering the market in an upswing, or you can be entering it in a downswing and you have to roll with the best available options at that time.

[00:19:14] William Rojas: I think individuals coming out of school, maybe they come from an Ivy League or from a state school and they’re focused immediately on salary, which is I think is the wrong approach. I think you should focus on experience. The groups and the individuals that I’ve hired over the years at different firms, I always went with what experience did they have?

[00:19:34] William Rojas: Are they deal ready? Can they be plug-and-play? And it’s very quick. You can tell very quickly if somebody knows what they worked on or if they didn’t, right? Someone might have on their resume that they were part of an office building acquisition. And then you just ask very basic questions. What was the going and cap rate?

[00:19:52] William Rojas: What was the price per foot? How did you, what was your stabilize all in cost basis if you really worked on that project and you spent four months the way I did on deals, acquiring them, you know every number in your sleek and you can tell very quickly if somebody is deal ready and has experience or if they’re just finding headlines and putting it on a resume.

[00:20:13] William Rojas: So I think getting experience is the most important for the first five years of your career. And they’re after you have some experience and you can, show what you’ve done and demonstrate your abilities in the industry. And you can worry about a little bit more pay or different opportunities that you want to be in.

[00:20:31] William Rojas: But I think first and foremost, get experience. Just know what you work on and focus on doing the best job you can while you’re there. 

[00:20:38] Patrick Donley: So, while you were working at Wells Fargo, and then I know you’ve had some other firms that you worked with, were you stashing money? Were you actively saving as much as you can, knowing that you were going to take a leap at some point into having your own portfolio?

[00:20:54] William Rojas: Not at Wells Fargo. As I grew, and I went from well to a developer to a real estate, private equity firm. At that point, I was making very good money from my age, and I was starting to save bonuses and put it away, and I had a marriage. I was engaged, I had a marriage coming. We bought a house fairly young.

[00:21:13] William Rojas: I know a lot of people say, you should invest in properties first before you jump. Don’t have kids, don’t get married before you start investing or start your company. I kind of did the opposite approach. I bought my house. I got married. I had two big life events taken care of while I was making a good salary, and then I started planning for the investment.

[00:21:32] Patrick Donley: So the next step after Wells Fargo was with a developer, was that the next move that you made? Is it? 

[00:21:38] William Rojas: Yes. There was a developer best situation group of a long term LA family. We had some capital that we raised from Goldman Sachs subsidiary to do Mez loans. Again, rescue capital type situations. So I was recruited to originate Mezz loans.

[00:21:54] William Rojas: Mezzanine loans. So liquidity. DR was drying up during this time and call it 2010 to twenty thirteen, twenty fourteen. Capital was not readily available. Loan proceeds were not up to 65 to 75, 80%. At the time. Groups that were in trouble or trying to get a little bit of a higher leverage loan to start their business plan, they would go to a bank and get maybe 60% loan to cost.

[00:22:22] William Rojas: And they said, well, we’re going to do our business plan. And we really, and so the next two years we really have, would like to have more leverage on this deal. So we would come in and go behind in, in a subordinate position to the senior loan, and we’d take it from 60% loan to cost to maybe 75% loan to cost.

[00:22:40] William Rojas: We’d be subordinate to the senior loan, but we’d be in a first position to any equity or joint venture or press equity in the deal. Equity being the sponsor’s capital. And what was interesting of this, the rates were a lot higher for an investment perspective. We were charging points up upfront. We were double digit mezzanine loan points or rates.

[00:23:05] William Rojas: So the senior mortgage could be 4% and we could be at 14 and it would blend a five and a half for the sponsor. It was great for certain business plan. 

[00:23:15] Patrick Donley: I wanted to hear if you, what we’re going through now reminds you in any way of some of those early when you were at Wells Fargo and beyond. Just is there any kind of similarities that you’re seeing right now from today 

[00:23:28] Patrick Donley: to like kind of the coming out of the great financial crisis or even, early days of the great financial crisis?

[00:23:34] William Rojas: I started my career at Wells. We were doing loan originations, portfolio manager. We were also doing workouts for troubled assets. So I started seeing groups that were very well capitalized, start losing deals and hand the keys back things that they could have avoided. One of the things I tell my brothers, one of my partners right now is if you go back to 20 2008 to 2011, anybody who bought during that period was nervous and scared and it was a point of uncertainty, right?

[00:24:03] William Rojas: It wasn’t like, oh, I’m getting a steal on the steal. It’s like, think this sounds good. All my fundamentals checkout, I’m at a good basis. I really hope the world doesn’t end in a year or two, but we’re going to make a leap of faith on a risk adjusted basis. And then in 2013 to 2017, everybody who saw the sales comps from 2009 to 2011 or 12, they were calling those investors geniuses.

[00:24:28] William Rojas: How could we have missed that? So I think that’s very similar to what we’re in right now, where, you had Russia, Ukraine last year, you had the Fed very aggressively raising interest rates or the fed rates higher than ever before in history and at a faster rate. And you have a lot of people right now that have liquidity, but are scared to jump in.

[00:24:48] William Rojas: And I think the groups that capitalize over the next six to 12, 18 months are going to and focus on the fundamentals basis of rents, comparables, and have a business plan in place to weather the storm. Longer term, fixed rate, debt reserves, capital plans in place. They’re going to do very well in five years.

[00:25:08] William Rojas: People are going to say, how do we miss it in 2023? So those are kind of the similarities that I’m tracking right now. 

[00:25:15] Patrick Donley: That’s interesting. I had an interview with Levi Benkert and he lives through the 2008 crisis and very difficult time for him, and I think he’s making kind of these same moves now to prepare longer, fixed rate debt, some of the items that you mentioned to get ready for what may be down the road.

[00:25:31] Patrick Donley: Worst case scenario. I wanted to hear about your first deal that you did on your own. I think it was a triplex if I’m not mistaken. Yeah. Talk to us about when that happened, how that deal came about. Just kind of the specifics of it. If you, whatever you want to get into value add, how you did that, talk about that a bit if you would.

[00:25:51] William Rojas: Absolutely. Was a lender at a school, then I worked at a developer and we were also doing these loans. After that, I went to go work at Rockwood Capital Institutional Real Estate Private Equity Firm. I closed on 1,000,000,005 of transactions during five years after. While I was there I did all different asset types, office, residential, ground up, multi-family retail, and a lot of mixed use.

[00:26:17] William Rojas: While I was at Rockwood, we were doing a lot of office and mixed use projects in certain parts of Los Angeles. Got very comfortable with the markets, understand why we were making these very significant bets. Some of these deals were north of three, 400 million, right? We raised certain, funds just for these deals.

[00:26:37] William Rojas: And I started looking at why we investing in these areas. Why is this firm? Why are our investors very focused on these areas of town? And it was public transportation, it was employment nodes, it was a central location. It was an area where tenants and office employers could attract talent to work at their companies.

[00:26:56] William Rojas: Took that information and said where else in LA could I start investing on the side? Piggybacking off of where institutional real estate was putting in, an enormous amount of investment capital for the long term, so it was really trying to focus on path of growth versus established neighborhoods.

[00:27:13] William Rojas: Came across an area very central to Los Angeles, next to a lot of tech employers that had previously been neglected, but it was a very central location. This project I found the first one was a vacant triplex. I think the selling points for me was that it was vacant in Los Angeles is very difficult to get started on value add business plans because you have tenant situations, you have a local regulatory environment that makes it difficult whether you have a case or not.

[00:27:45] William Rojas: It’s just a pro-tenant market and that’s okay. 

[00:27:48] Patrick Donley: I’m curious, since it was vacant, was it in pretty rough shape when you bought it? 

[00:27:52] William Rojas: Not bankable. Very rough. A lot of deferred maintenance. We’ll get into more background of my partnership, but we have in-house construction capabilities, so we weren’t scared about the condition.

[00:28:04] William Rojas: Most of the time we buy properties very quick. They’re not bankable. We’re either putting in mostly cash, all cash or hard money loan, first few deals and we don’t care about the condition because we’re going to redo it all anyway, it was in very challenging shape, but we saw the potential and then we got to work, took it down in the studs, got our architect on board, redesigned the floor plans part of the property was previously neglected and just, had weed growing five feet tall.

[00:28:31] William Rojas: We turned those into individual outdoor spaces for each unit. Added some storage. Really tried to give a differentiated feel to prospective renters that were coming out of maybe a 200 unit apartment building and they were ready to graduate from their dorm room to the big apartment complex, to now more mature.

[00:28:51] William Rojas: Older, millennial, quieter environment and that’s what we were trying to deliver. 

[00:28:56] Patrick Donley: So was this a deal that you did on your own or was your dad involved, your brothers involved at that point? What was that first deal? How was it structured? 

[00:29:05] William Rojas: Me and my dad and my brothers were all involved in, my dad and I were majority of the capital.

[00:29:10] William Rojas: My brothers ran in there, what they had, and we put it in and we did very great. We did very well on, on the investment and that was the first kind of proof of concept moment that we’re onto something here we can build for cheaper with in-house construction. We know how to structure the deal. With refinances.

[00:29:28] William Rojas: And that first one was very important for me cause I was still a W2 employee and wanted to ha use that as a springboard to eventually quit the W2 life and start my own firm. So as opposed to cashing out a bunch of money, it was just refinance, keep it very simple cash flow that so that we could use for me to springboard into full-time investing.

[00:29:51] Patrick Donley: So let’s talk about your dad. I know that he builds high-end homes in Beverly Hills, I believe, right? 

[00:29:58] William Rojas: Yeah. All the high-end homes in LA areas. In la. 

[00:30:01] Patrick Donley: So we’re talking millions of dollars. Several thousand, what? 10 over 10,000 square foot homes? 

[00:30:08] William Rojas: Yes. 

[00:30:10] Patrick Donley: I wanted to hear why you ended up not, and this is kind of taking a step backwards, why did you not end up right out of college, working with your dad, doing the family business?

[00:30:20] Patrick Donley: I’m in a similar situation and kind of chose the same route that you did, and I wanted to hear your thoughts on it. 

[00:30:25] William Rojas: It was more of a personal decision on, I worked very hard in, a challenging academic environment and I figured I was in a lucky position that the construction company would always be there if I wanted to participate, but I wanted to carve out my own path and get a different skillset.

[00:30:44] William Rojas: We talked about it in on long road trips and different dinners that we had together. I’ll build and you buy and find the real estate, right? I took that very seriously and said, let me figure out the real estate industry first and development business and then we could partner at the appropriate time.

[00:31:00] William Rojas: And I was in no rush to join the construction company or partner with it, but was working very long hours. I felt like I’ve established myself in the industry, had a great skillset, and I kind of knew I was ready to start my own firm when maybe I didn’t have all the answers, but I knew how to get the answers about 10 years into my career.

[00:31:21] William Rojas: Wanted to carve out my own path and then come back to the construction company down the road. 

[00:31:26] Patrick Donley: Totally makes sense. And you were working a ton of hours too, like 80 hour work week, like working a ton, right? Yes. Yeah. You touched a little bit on your grandfather. You’ve talked a little bit about your father.

[00:31:38] Patrick Donley: I know family’s super important to you. I wanted to hear more about your grandfather coming to the us. Talk to us a little bit about his story, because I found that pretty fascinating along with your dad’s story as well. 

[00:31:51] William Rojas: My grandfather was an amazing man. He’s recently moved on. He was no longer with us, but still a big influence in all my family’s lives.

[00:31:59] William Rojas: He immigrated to the US, got a work visa, got his paperwork in order, became a dual citizen, started a commercial landscaping company. My dad is one of five, so he was supporting a lot of young boys early on in his career, working six, seven days a week. And he really. Looking back on it, it was amazing what he was able to do, barely knowing the language and making connections with his clients, these people that owned apartment buildings in the sixties, seventies and eighties.

[00:32:31] William Rojas: And when he passed away we found old boxes of loan agreements and joint venture agreements that he had with some of his clients that were written on a yellow note sheet. And it was like, there’s no excuse for me not to be able to capitalize on the experience that I have and the opportunities that I’ve been presented.

[00:32:48] William Rojas: When he was cutting deals on a note sheet, buying his first property, saving up, buying his second property, and so on. And he had, he left quite, quite a legacy of a portfolio for us here and in Mexico. He was still partnering with his siblings in Mexico, gas stations, hotels, office buildings, and just gave me a role model to look up to when things got tough and I wanted to make excuses.

[00:33:15] William Rojas: Didn’t have that. 

[00:33:17] Patrick Donley: So your dad, then talk to us a little bit about that. Cause he had siblings that were more in a professional career. Not that, real estate or entrepreneurial stuff isn’t entrepre, professional. But talk to us a little bit about your dad’s path too. 

[00:33:31] William Rojas: My dad, he’s one of a kind, he’s one of my heroes.

[00:33:34] William Rojas: My role model, I wouldn’t be where I’m at without my father. He’s been my first coach in all my sports life growing up. My best friends still call him Coach Bell and he wasn’t the academic type. He’s very smart even now. But I’ll be on a job site with him and he can do mental math very quickly where I’m pulling out triple checking on the side, not letting him see that I’m checking the math.

[00:33:59] William Rojas: And he’s very brilliant with numbers, but he wasn’t an academic type and he didn’t go to college. He has, some of his siblings are a lawyer doctor, they’re running the other company and he wanted to carve his own path. The deal my grandfather made with him was, you’re not going to go to school. The money that we have saved to invest in your education, I’ll partner with you and we’ll do a business.

[00:34:22] William Rojas: They bought a property in Inglewood, near LAX and a California Los Angeles, and they designed permitting that property into a restaurant. So he put all his life savings and that money, investment money into that restaurant. And he had a great first few months, maybe a year of success, and then some turmoil in Los Angeles with Rodney King riots uprising of the neighborhoods.

[00:34:50] William Rojas: A lot of people scared to come out of their house, and that business fell through the cracks, and they always kept the real estate, which is a very big lesson for us. The tenant may have survived or not, but the real estate always stayed in the family with him. My grandfather and my grandmother.

[00:35:06] William Rojas: And then he moved us to San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. There was a big earthquake, the 94 Northridge earthquake started. He had his con, his contractor license at that point, and he had a lot of work for a lot of years after. Started small block walls, driveways, renovations to small houses, to then getting connected on homes that people have seen on reality TV shows across the networks.

[00:35:32] William Rojas: And he always took those lessons from that restaurant, failing to how he carried himself after, and saving and putting money aside for us for our education as opposed to buying boats in RVs and things like that. 

[00:35:45] Patrick Donley: It points to me like so much of a lot of business. There are many factors that go into it, but a lot of it is just timing and luck.

[00:35:53] Patrick Donley: I’ve heard Moses Kagan talk about how he started his career in 2005 or six, like it would’ve been a totally different situation for him than starting it Yeah. In 2009 or 10. It’s just a, of course timing is a big part of it, and it’s crazy to me that you’re, so he started with the restaurant and now he’s doing these super high-end homes.

[00:36:13] Patrick Donley: Is he completely self-taught in terms of real estate and the work that he’s doing now? 

[00:36:18] William Rojas: Yeah, I mean, he it’s fascinating over the last few years that I’ve joined and bought into the construction company and basically put it into our real estate platform. I’ve spent more time with him on job sites and, when he is doing inspections with the city inspectors or people from all over the city know him.

[00:36:35] William Rojas: Right. The people that are running the building department in LA were junior inspectors when he was getting started, and he has a very old construction license. And, it just shows that he’s been able to weather so many different environments of building during the Great Recession. I think he was renovating apartment buildings like two hours away because that’s the only work that he was getting.

[00:36:59] William Rojas: Right. And he continued to partner with different developers that had different needs and wants and yeah, self-taught every single step of the way. And continued to learn from certain experiences on different projects. 

[00:37:13] Patrick Donley: I wanted to hear how you ultimately knew when to step away from your W2 job. You, 

[00:37:18] Patrick Donley: it sounded like you bought that first triplex.

[00:37:21] Patrick Donley: You did a, took it down to the studs, added a ton of value. I’m not sure how, if you pulled equity or, re did a cashout refi 

[00:37:27] Patrick Donley: or what you did. But I want to hear about how you thought about 

[00:37:31] Patrick Donley: making that transition from a high salary W2 job to jumping out on your own. What was that like?

[00:37:38] Patrick Donley: Because that, there’s a lot of people that are in the, maybe a similar boat thinking about making that transition and it’s there’s a lot of fears and trepidations with it.

[00:37:46] William Rojas: That was torn on the decision, right? I never let it get in the way of my W2 job. I realized and appreciated the jobs that I had and the opportunities that I had.

[00:37:55] William Rojas: So I always wanted to do a good job for my employer because whether the, who I was working for, they had a lot writing on it. So I took it very serious. I always had in the back of my mind, wanted to do my own deals. Started talking to my wife, who’s a big support background backbone for me of, if you want to do it and you think you can do it, I’ll support you.

[00:38:15] William Rojas: Right? So that was a big piece of it. Not everybody has that luxury in a partner and a spouse that says, I’ve believe in you, figure it out. My last job before going off on my own, I got connected with two very smart individuals that are still mentors of mine, and we were buying properties in Southern California and in Texas.

[00:38:34] William Rojas: I was very transparent to them that I was going to join, but I was also interested in buying properties on the side, and they said, all right, so long as it’s not of institutional size under 10 Marin or whatever, just don’t let again in the way of our word and we’ll, you’re fine. We’ll support you. I didn’t want them to find out down the road thinking that I wasn’t committed, so I was transparent and upfront with them.

[00:38:55] William Rojas: My portfolio on the side started to snowball instead of paying ourselves. And we did create value and refinance it just rolled into the next property. Rolled into the next property, right? And we started to grow slowly, organically. And around 2019 is when I was going to Texas quite a bit, probably every other week, every week.

[00:39:15] William Rojas: And I was starting to miss meetings for deals that I was personally guaranteeing or that my house was on the line for. And I said, it’s not fair to my employer. I’m thinking about this other stuff. And it’s also not fair to me, my family, while we’re doing not being all in on this business, I gave notice January, 2020.

[00:39:34] William Rojas: I stayed on for a few months and we all know what happened on March 12th when the NBA shut down and the pandemic started. Had some serious conversations with my employers about, transitioning out. And they said, are you sure you want to do this? We’re not sure what’s going to happen. You can still work from home.

[00:39:50] William Rojas: I consulted for them for a few months, managed relationships, managed my the people that were working under me or with me. And in June, 2020 said, you know what? It’s time to cut the cord, sign the separation agreement. I still talk and do a lot of networking with those guys and our mentors of mine and, look at deals together.

[00:40:10] William Rojas: But it was time to, what I said was, never waste a good pandemic. And when you have an opportunity to jump out on a moment in time where the market might be resetting, go and don’t look back and hi hindsight, that mo, that moment might be now, but at least I have the back of house and the foundation for my platform established so that we can capitalize it now.

[00:40:31] Patrick Donley: So for somebody kind of thinking about doing a similar move, did you have cash flow in place that you felt pretty comfortable leaving that salaried position? Like you had enough income coming in to, support your family, your, you’ve got two kids, a wife, talk to us about the financial piece of it.

[00:40:48] William Rojas: I will preface it with everybody’s situation is personal to them. You know what everybody has going on behind the scenes. I would advise anybody who’s trying to make the decision do the best decision for you, right? Don’t try to compare yourself to other people. I would do that early on and I would say, well, then I’d find out somebody had a very wealthy uncle that was backing them, and then I say, you know what?

[00:41:12] William Rojas: I’m done comparing myself. I did set up the first few deals to get a small cash flow coming in to pay my monthly reserves over time. Bought in to the construction company and took a small salary. By no means was I making what I was making previously, but it was enough that I could pay my mortgage, have dinner on the table, and then I could really focus on, my own business.

[00:41:35] William Rojas: In growing our platform, what I didn’t want to do was I didn’t want to be in a position where I had to do a bad deal to take an acquisition fee. To keep the lights on, and that’s the luxurious position that we’re in today. We don’t have to do a deal just to do a deal to get feast coming in. We can be disciplined to do only the deals we want to do.

[00:41:55] William Rojas: That’s what I would advise other people trying to jump out, do what’s best for you. Some people might jump cold Turkey. I did a little bit more thoughtfully and over time.

[00:42:05] Patrick Donley: I think the point you made about we’re all kind of prone to comparing ourselves to others, and that can be dangerous. I, there’s a quote, comparison is the thief of joy.

[00:42:13] Patrick Donley: Like you said, you have no idea, like the backstory or the advantages that maybe someone else has had that, and you may not. I think that’s a good point. Just kind of stay true to your own path. And it sounds like you, you have, I want to hear more about how you ended up structuring the company. It’s TRG Investments.

[00:42:32] Patrick Donley: Talk to us about just how you guys are structuring it. There’s like two divisions basically from my understanding. Correct me if I’m wrong, but go into a little bit about the partnership with your dad and brothers, how you guys divide out duties. Just go into a little bit about more into what it’s like working with family as well, your thoughts on that.

[00:42:52] William Rojas: Sure. So yeah, TRG Investments right now, the organization is myself and my father. The two managing partners. We own a majority share of the company, but our other brothers are owners in the company and have the ability to gain more ownership over time. The initial seed capital is from the two of us and also the two of us were putting our assets and our houses on the line, signing guarantees and backstopping loans.

[00:43:18] William Rojas: So there was a little bit more fictitious portion ownership upfront. But over time we have mechanisms to change the ownership structures as we grow. Myself, my father, who’s been a GC for 35 years, I’ve been in real estate, institutional real estate the last 13 years. I have two younger brothers. One is about two years younger than me, and he has followed my dad to the construction side.

[00:43:40] William Rojas: So he has over a decade of construction experience project management. He’s now recently taking over our property management arm and our property management division. So he’s helping with our assets locally and dealing with maintenance updates and our portfolio upkeep. And then our younger, my youngest brother, he’s about four years younger than me, and he followed my path in college.

[00:44:04] William Rojas: He saw what I was doing and I always told him, I don’t want you to follow me and not be happy about your career choice. Do what you want to do, right? If you want to do accounting or investment banking or anything else, tech, go for it. Don’t follow me. I don’t want to get the blame. Down the road and he took an interest in it.

[00:44:21] William Rojas: And he’s worked at some very reputable institutional firms. He still secured a large brokerage shop, national Firm, CBRE national Firm. And he was part of the land sale division and multi-family division where he was a wizard with land use and understanding a gas station on this corner. Three different options of how you can develop that property.

[00:44:44] William Rojas: And then they would package it and then they would sell it or take it to the market to sell to developers. So he got very great experience on land use and development in LA and then worked at a developer before joining us about a year ago. So right now it’s one company and then our construction company is a separate corporation.

[00:45:03] William Rojas: We use almost exclusively our construction company on all our projects, but there’s still paperwork to keep everything separate. One’s a corporation. This is an L C. There’s a holding company and subsidiary LLCs. Myself, my dad makes are talking about the directions of the company. My younger, youngest brother, Steven, him and I are running and trying to grow our portfolio and the financials and acquisitions and development.

[00:45:32] William Rojas: And then our other brother, he’s, on the construction jobs as well as property management. 

[00:45:38] Patrick Donley: So talk to us about some of the current projects in particular. I wanted to hear about the restaurant that your grandfather helped your dad buy. That was what, early nineties. It sounded like your grandfather then maybe had the landscaping business at that property.

[00:45:52] Patrick Donley: But it’s super interesting to me to hear what’s happened to the property now and what you guys are up to with it at the moment. Can you go into that? 

[00:45:59] William Rojas: Yeah, absolutely. So the restaurant that we alluded to earlier in the conversation, my father left the restaurant business, and leased it to a few other Rerate tours.

[00:46:09] William Rojas: They stayed for a few years and then they moved on. My grandfather had a commercial landscaping company. Which he then leased the property. He had, his office there, he had park nursery there and plans for a lot of different projects and he stayed with them through about 2018. And my grandfather and my dad came to me one day and said, all right, I want to be bought out.

[00:46:32] William Rojas: My dad said, I’m going to buy out. They looked at me and said, what can we do on the property? And I said, I don’t know. Let me figure it out. I called an architect friend of mine who just started his own architecture firm. Him and I worked on some very large institutional deals together, and here we are doing our own little side deal together.

[00:46:52] William Rojas: He just started his firm and we started the process. We met with the county of la. It was near the flight path of LAX. It was also commercial zoning, meaning retail and office was the designated use or intended use. And they said, yeah, this isn’t going to be very difficult to develop here. I’m sure you don’t want to do an office building or retail.

[00:47:13] William Rojas: And we said, no, we want to do housing. There was a way to do housing, but it was going to be small lot, couple small units, four units I believe is what we could do on it, and there was going to have to be some type of commercial component to it. We submitted the process and started the process. Then a new senate bill was passed January 1st, 2020 in the state of California, which streamlined affordable and workforce housing in certain commercial corridors.

[00:47:41] William Rojas: This property fell under that designation and the county planner called us and said, Hey, new opportunity to pursue this project. Why don’t you explore this new SV 35? We explored it, we were able to entitle it for 11 units. Ground floor parking, two levels of framing above it. We are the contractor, we are the developer on it, no outside capital, just our own internal capital, and we all are pouring the foundations tomorrow.

[00:48:12] William Rojas: And going to be starting framing here in about four weeks. 

[00:48:16] Patrick Donley: So was the original restaurant, the original structure there? Did you have to take that down? What? Was there some demolition involved with all of this? 

[00:48:24] William Rojas: Yeah, we demoed the building, the restaurant building on Black Friday, day after Thanksgiving last year.

[00:48:32] William Rojas: So we were all there and it was an emotional moment. My dad was telling me about the memories he had at that property that he did the roof shingles himself, and he was on the roof when he heard the radio that Magic Johnson got sick with. I think it was h I v. And there was a couple of other stories that he told me about that him and his father shared at the property.

[00:48:54] William Rojas: He was okay with New beginnings at that property. But yeah, it was demoed, fully demolished in November of last year. And then we had our groundbreaking right before Christmas, groundbreaking ceremony. 

[00:49:06] Patrick Donley: So what’s been the hardest part with that project? What’s been the most challenging thing you guys have run into so far?

[00:49:12] William Rojas: Honestly, it’s LA has been mimicking Seattle for the last, two months. So there’s been a lot of rain, more than usual. So just managing stop and starts with weather issues. As far as the rest of the build, it’s pretty seamless for us. Again, we have a deep bench of subcontractors in the Los Angeles area.

[00:49:32] William Rojas: We’re using some of our subs that do the 25 million homes and then we’re using some of the subs that do, student and workforce housing, smaller projects, and we’re overseeing everything. And then we have our own internal labor and team on payroll that are doing jack of all trade type work as well.

[00:49:51] Patrick Donley: Aside from that project, you’ve also ventured into Texas, it sounds like. What are some of the deals that you guys are doing there? 

[00:49:58] William Rojas: Texas is a new growth market for us. I have experience, my brother has experience on executing investments in Texas in the past at previous firms, and right now we’re working on value add multi-family projects in Austin and in San Antonio and in select submarkets within Dallas Fort Worth.

[00:50:18] William Rojas: So we’re, right now we’re working on a 400 unit project. We’re trying to get under contract. We don’t currently own anything there, but we do have experience and a lot of relationships with brokers and property managers. So I think that’s going to be a big growth market for us. Very complimentary to diversify our investor base and investments California Pro their team where taxes are locked in.

[00:50:42] William Rojas: Texas. You have the largest population growth and huge corporate relocations happening there. Between the two submarkets and two states, you have the fourth largest economy in the world in California, and the ninth largest economy in the world in Texas. So we get, we think it’s a great focus of us to diversify over the future and for our investors that want a little bit of both.

[00:51:04] William Rojas: Someone ground up, someone value add, someone California, someone Texas, and we’re going to keep working hard, sourcing those opportunities and let our investors pick which ones they want to be part of. 

[00:51:15] Patrick Donley: I wanted to hear how you decide whether or not to take on outside capital. It sounded to me that the, where the restaurant was, that 11 unit project that’s all funded by you guys internally.

[00:51:26] Patrick Donley: How do you decide whether or not to take in outside investors? What, I mean, talk us through that. 

[00:51:31] William Rojas: Aside from checking our bank accounts at a home impact, right. The first few deals, A handful of deals. We really wanted to prove the concept to ourselves first with our own money. We really wanted to make sure that we had couple cycles of taxes done reporting in place, managing property management and tenants, and really wanted to do a test run with our own capital, be before we took anyone else’s money and had that responsibility as a fiduciary.

[00:51:59] William Rojas: The way we see it is when you get an investment and when you get someone to sign and invest in your deal, you’re signing up for an obligation to perform for those individuals. Like these people’s savings are at stake, college funds are at stake, and we take that very seriously. Last few deals, we started working through partnerships, some joint ventures, and started taking friends and family capital, and I think we’re going to continue to grow that, we’re going to do some joint ventures with institutions going forward.

[00:52:29] William Rojas: My brother and I have a lot of comfort presenting and the way you structure those deals and due diligence for the institutional deals. So we might use that to grow our platform, but we will also be doing smaller deals where we can bring in friends family offices, and that might be a different business plan.

[00:52:46] William Rojas: That might be a hold forever business plan versus a institutional deal where they’re in a fund and there’s a five year hole where they’re focused on IRR, the family office, and our syndications might be more focused on wealth preservation and cash on cash and other things like that. Yeah, that makes sense.

[00:53:06] Patrick Donley: I wanted to take a step back a little bit, actually to my very first question. I don’t think we touched on why you think both college and NFL players end up doing really well. You made the point to me on the telephone yesterday about why football players or athletes in general end up doing well in real estate.

[00:53:23] Patrick Donley: Can you talk about that real quick? 

[00:53:25] William Rojas: Yeah, that’s, bring it full circle. So the first thing I would say is any collegiate or professional athlete is very competitive. To get to where they’re at, they have to be very competitive. And there’s a certain skillset set with having a task at hand and working through it and figuring it out.

[00:53:40] William Rojas: Whether that’s the playbook or executing on the field. So first and foremost, it’s the competitiveness, right? It’s the type of person you are. Second, you think about where a lot of people go to college towns or where they’re playing in the n l, they’re traveling a lot, right? And they’re exploring the city and maybe they’re spending their off season in la, San Francisco, New York, Miami, and then they’re getting ideas of what’s happening in those markets.

[00:54:04] William Rojas: Then they’re going back to Indianapolis, or then they’re going back to another city within the US that doesn’t have the same growth that LA or some of these other cities have seen over the years. So there are starting to implement strategies that you see on the coast or other areas.

[00:54:21] William Rojas: Implemented in a smaller town and less competition, more opportunity to create value and you can kind of set the market. So I think the ability to have all those exposures to all those markets help real estate or NFL players and college players become very well-versed in real estate investing.

[00:54:42] Patrick Donley: Yeah, I think DKs first investment, I want to say it was either in Indianapolis or it was Indiana or Ohio, one of the two. And there’s an old adage that if something like on the coast, like if something is killing it, like in, in terms of a business concept in New York or Miami or la, bring it to Columbus, Ohio.

[00:55:00] Patrick Donley: And it like, if it works here, it’ll work anywhere. It applies to real estate too. I wanted to just kind of wrap up here with a fire rounder. Are you up for that right now? 

[00:55:09] William Rojas: Absolutely. 

[00:55:11] Patrick Donley: All right. Cool. I wanted to, this is a question that I got from a guy named John Marsh who has done some really interesting work in Opelika, Alabama.

[00:55:20] Patrick Donley: If you’ve never heard of the guy, I really recommend you checking him out. I think you’d like him a lot. But he’s got a podcast and one of his questions that I liked was like, it’s What have you read recently that you think I should be reading? 

[00:55:34] William Rojas: That’s a great question. I read a lot of real estate books. I am a real estate fanatic, I think a very interesting book I read over the years, but I continued to read is Powerhouse Principles by George Perez.

[00:55:46] William Rojas: Yeah, he leads related Miami, the huge development company, and it talks about his background working in the public sector, working in affordable housing, working for the cities and the municipalities, and then gravitating towards the private sector and then his partnerships with public and private. He talks about his condo projects in la, the ones that work that didn’t work, his inter international business and how he got comfortable doing business outside of the US.

[00:56:15] William Rojas: And for me it’s been a great example of just thinking bigger, not getting too comfortable with doing a small project here or there, but thinking bigger than and getting out of your comfort zone. So I would recommend Powerhouse Principles by Jorge Press. 

[00:56:30] Patrick Donley: Is it a biography about his life or is It’s kind of a non-fiction about how? 

[00:56:35] William Rojas: I mean, it goes into his experiences, but it’s not his biography.

[00:56:39] William Rojas: He talks a lot about case studies, a lot of deals that he did, things that worked, how he runs his meetings. Not a biography, but very much influenced by his life experiences. Got it. 

[00:56:50] Patrick Donley: I’ll have to check that out. That’s one I’ve not heard of. So I love getting new recommendations. I wanted to hear about aside from your father, your grandfather, who is your real estate or entrepreneurial hero.

[00:57:03] William Rojas: I would start with LA locally, right? A guy that has become a household name in the city, but you know, we’ve known about him for a long time here. It’s Rick Caruso, he’s the developer here, the king of placemaking. He developed the grove in the Los Angeles. He’s developed other shopping centers, lifestyle centers, really, he’s really took in a big interest in experiential retail, and he’s found properties and areas and communities, and then catered the retail to that demographic.

[00:57:33] William Rojas: But just his attention to detail of the plants the water fountains, the way the aesthetics look, and he’s taken big inspiration from Walt Disney. He said, a lot of my projects resemble how Walt, and Disney created Disneyland and his attention to detail with the sounds and the parking experience and the valet, everything.

[00:57:53] William Rojas: For me, he’s been someone that I follow and one, one thing that I do, And have done over the years. When I work out, I listen to podcast books, but I also listen to commencement speeches from college graduations and hear tidbits of advice from other leaders in different industries. And I think one I heard from him was what was the biggest regret when you developed, the Grove in la And he’s like, I had so much conviction that I was going to create this value here in this area of placemaking.

[00:58:22] William Rojas: I’m kicking myself. I didn’t buy everything around it. I knew it was going to be successful. So that always stuck with me. 

[00:58:28] Patrick Donley: That’s interesting. Eric Weatherholtz calls that the halo effect, like developing an area that’s an amazing place, but then like, because of what you’ve developed, everything around it, those ship rises because of what you’ve done.

[00:58:39] Patrick Donley: So it sounds similar that Rick had a similar kind thought process or wish he had a similar thought process. Yeah. In terms of commencement speeches, I wanted to hear more about that. Do you have any really great ones that come to mind that I should listen to or are listeners should listen to? 

[00:58:53] William Rojas: I don’t have one off the top of my head.

[00:58:55] William Rojas: I listen to a lot of them and I don’t do it as much anymore. But definitely when I was younger, especially firms I wanted to work for, things like that. I was listening to, I’d pick Harvard class of HBS class of 2008 connection speech. Right. And it probably worth digging back into now hearing what advice people were giving in 2008, 2010, because history repeats itself.

[00:59:21] William Rojas: So I’m sure a lot of those messages could be relived today. Yeah, a hundred percent from the younger generation. 

[00:59:26] Patrick Donley: A hundred percent. I agree with that. What about do you have some favorite podcasts that your go-to podcast when you’re working out that you like what are some of those aside from yours and the?

[00:59:36] William Rojas: I Would say Guy RAs and how I built this.

[00:59:39] William Rojas: I love li listening about all different industries, right. I think. Real estate, whether you’re in housing or retail or office, it’s all about what people are up to, what are they doing, what are they interested in? So I like to just understand other businesses and the psychology of their business and how they’re attracting customers and how they’re building their businesses.

[00:59:57] William Rojas: Right. So that one’s very interesting to me. Capital allocators with Ted Seides is an interesting one for me. That’s more macro economy, more, more high finance, but also people investing a lot of money in a lot of different sectors. And then this one has been a great one for me as well. 

[01:00:15] Patrick Donley: Real quick, and you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, but do you have any investments outside of real estate?

[01:00:21] William Rojas: No I don’t. Other than my 401k, I’m all in on, on my real estate holdings and I always say to my wife and myself, it’s when we feel we’re at a good point to diversify, we’ll diversify. But right now we’re all in on building this business and. Quite frankly, I think I can generate a higher return on my own investments than the stock market or these other markets.

[01:00:42] William Rojas: And there’ll be a time and place for diversification. But right now in growth mode, in business building mode, I’m all in on my real estate home. 

[01:00:51] Patrick Donley: Yeah. I love it. I, there was a gentleman I interviewed James Nelson, who’s a commercial real estate broker in New York, who came out with the book recently and he said the same thing, that you’ve got way more control with real estate, with stock market or o other markets.

[01:01:06] Patrick Donley: It’s very difficult to gain an edge. And you, we didn’t really touch on this, but you do have kind of an un unfair competitive advantage in many ways, just having everything in house and being able to really efficiently do things. Can you talk a little bit about that, just like how that is in some ways an unfair advantage to you compared to like somebody else that doesn’t have what you’ve got going on?

[01:01:28] William Rojas: Yeah, no I think competitive advantages can come in a lot of different ways and shapes and sizes. I think for me, maybe we didn’t have the seed capital or backstop capital that may out someone else might have. But what we did have was we had in-house construction, right? So we can build more efficiently control the con building process a little bit more than other groups and then we can also build for cheaper, right?

[01:01:52] William Rojas: So, some people will ask me, well, what’s your return on cost on this investment? Or what’s your return on it? And I’ll have to, disclose, say, just making it very apparent my numbers are not your numbers and they won’t be right. We can build that cost and not take a profit on construction.

[01:02:07] William Rojas: For anyone else you hire is going to get paid for doing the work on your project. So I think that’s a big competitive advantage. But also just bringing in the white collar experience with the blue collar experience and being able to have a call with a private equity company going through a deal, talking about a waterfall split and a promote, and then I’ll, 30 minutes later I’m in the car talking to a plumber about what sewer cap he used.

[01:02:38] William Rojas: And I think that’s a big infa unfair advantage for me because I feel comfortable in both scenarios. 

[01:02:43] Patrick Donley: That’s a huge skill set actually, to have that, to be able to go back and forth between both worlds. And some people have one or the other, but it’s great to be able to have both like you do. 

[01:02:53] William Rojas: Yeah. And then I’m working on the construction side, but I also have my father and brother to, to take a majority of the role on, on the building side.

[01:03:00] William Rojas: I know enough to be dangerous and I’m learning more, but I’m going to stick to what I know, which is creating value through real estate and generating strong risk adjusted returns. 

[01:03:10] Patrick Donley: Totally makes sense. Will, this has really been a lot of fun. I’ve loved learning about you, loved hearing about football and just your career path and what you guys have been up to with the company.

[01:03:19] Patrick Donley: For our listeners that want to learn more about you or maybe to reach out to you, what’s the best way for them to get in touch? 

[01:03:25] William Rojas: I’m pretty active on Twitter. I’ll go through phases where I’m very active and then a live deal or something will come up. But Twitter’s the best place to find me. My DMs are open.

[01:03:34] William Rojas: My Twitter handle is Rojas. My last name TRG and you guys can find me there. My Instagram’s private with just a lot of kid photos. And then our website is TRG Investments. That’s where you guys can find me. 

[01:03:48] Patrick Donley: Cool. Will, thanks so much. This has been a lot of fun. I appreciate your time today. 

[01:03:52] William Rojas: Thank you, Patrick. Appreciate it. 

[01:03:54] Patrick Donley: Okay folks, that’s all I had for today’s episode. I hope you enjoyed the show, and I’ll see you back here real soon. 

[01:04:00] Outro: Thank you for listening to TIP. Make sure to subscribe to We Study Billionaires by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Every Wednesday, we teach you about Bitcoin, and every Saturday we study billionaires and the financial markets.

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