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Catskills - Sullivan County - Ulster County Real Estate -- Catskill Farms Journal

Old School Real estate blog in the Catskills. Journeys, trial, tribulations, observations and projects of Catskill Farms Founder Chuck Petersheim. Since 2002, Catskill Farms has designed, built, and sold over 250 homes in the Hills, investing over $100m and introducing thousands to the areas we serve. Farms, Barns, Moderns, Cottages and Minis - a design portfolio which has something for everyone.

December 1, 2022

2nd Generation, and we sold another

Barn 47 sold last week, the day before the Thanksgiving break. It's another one down at the Crest project in North Branch / Fremont NY, just a few miles north of the outpost named Callicoon. Brokered by Erik Freeland, the nearly 3000 sq ft home (because of a finished ground floor) sports 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths, has views, is partially wooded and partially pasture.

Barn 47 pictures

A lot of times I look around and wonder why it looks easier for some people, and feels so hard to me - or used to. It's still a bitch day to day operationally, but the systems and people and relationships are in place to help fix any problem. To some degree, I think it's a pretty simple explanation, and that's the burden of the startup, rather than the 2nd generation - the burden of the startup vs buying or leading a business that has been around a bit.

It's hard to overstate the complexities of a startup, especially one like Catskill Farms that happens from scratch, is basically a new idea - and is hatched where I knew no one, inherited no relationships, found no quarter in growing up with the people now in charge. I really didn't know a whole a lot about real estate, construction or development. So the lift is pretty heavy, just getting things up and running, and maintaining that momentum. Took a decade a half really.

I think about these things as my son grows up - Lucas Petersheim is now 14, and I wonder if he will have interest in this business of mine, and whether I will encourage him or aspire for him any part in Catskill Farms. It's a tough business, so I'm not overly concerned about passing it along - if it ends up winding down as I wind down, that might be fine. I gave birth to it, and oversaw its orderly unwinding. We will see. I like to use his name in the posts cause then when he and his friends google him he shows up through the years in various disguises and destinations.

But that's not my point - my point is if he did want to join and take this cash-flow flush, hardly leveraged, somewhat large company and do what he wants with it, grow it in some new direction, he would have a lot of advantages that would allow him to hit the ground running and accelerate through the curve, unlike me, who as soon as I picked up any speed, there was some new hurdle that needed to be jumped. Not that he - or any 2nd generational owner - wouldn't have issues, he would just have the tools and vehicles to navigate them - unlike me, who first had to figure out wtf was going on, then go find someone - a lawyer, an accountant, engineer, surveyor, project manager, interior designer - to help solve the problem. So all the momentum stops while I would go figure out how to fix a problem I wasn't expected and identified very late, and there was little money to deal with it

It's hard to overstate the value of having relationships in place - for instance, even now, I'm subdividing a piece of land and I don't do that much so I really didn't have an engineer in hand to handle the onerous process of the state and municipality process. So 9 months later, after 2 false starts and a lot of wasted time, I finally have the engineering company in place to help me to the finish line. The next time will be much easier.

Take Donald Trump. He was able to leverage all his father's hard lessons and relationships to go after much bigger fish than his father ever did because he wasn't spending his time in these exercises of learning, relearning, defeats before going for the big game. I literally 'lost' 15 years just putting the systems in place that anyone - my son, a purchaser, my employees - could use and leverage to not only grow the business, but not have to worry about putting the basic guardrails in place to keep the business safe - be that from the vantage of book-keeping, accounting, legal, insurance, benefits, payroll, - you name it.

It's hard to overestimate the value of go-to relationships in each of my fields of risk - at this point, I got a problem, I know who to call, and I have the funds to solve it. Back in the day, it was like ground hog day, each waking up to a new set of problems that looked a lot like the old set of problems that threatened the viability of my business without any real clue how to rectify it, so a lot of time was spent each week figuring stuff out that anyone running this business would benefit from.

A great example, and I use this example because I love watching his business kick ass and he's a good friend of mine, is what Eric Goldstein and his wife (and team) are building with 5G Insurance. He certainly is doing an impressive job with his 5 year old business, expanding across the country with his agency's work, and that growth is impressive - and it's a great example of what I'm talking about - he had a ton of experience, know-who-to-turn-to relationships, how to solve this and that problem since he worked at his family's firm for a long time and was bred into the business - this advantage allowed him to accelerate and lean right into the opportunities he saw, the opportunities he saw that motivated his jump into his own business, and is actually a safe guard insurance policy in many ways. When you are stuck on a problem - doesn't matter what the problem is - you aren't growing your business, and if you aren't growing your business, you are a sitting duck for hunters, be it competition, cash flow or the myriad of other problems. Business building is still hard, regardless of where you start or join, but if you aren't spending a lot of time solving remedial problems because you lack the basic knowledge of how to achieve what you've dreamt up, if you aren't spinning your wheels, you can just make a lot more progress more quickly. Truth of the matter is that Eric's knowledge of his business, even if his business is new, was a much safer bet than Catskill Farms when we were starting out, since he just knows more about what he is selling.

Lucas Petersheim killing Time over Thanksgiving Break.

We have a small theater in Milford that shows classic movies on Sundays that are introduced by a film expert who gives all sorts of context and other related information about the film, the era, etc... Last week was Casablanca.

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