Under the Leaf: Wayne Zallen of Grow Condos (OTC: GRWC)
Wayne Zallen, CEO of Grow Condos, spent over 40 years of his life as a self-employed entrepreneur and businessman before starting Grow Condos, his first publicly traded company. Grow Condos specializes in the development of warehouse condominiums for Cannabis related business ventures. Whether you are a grower, extractor, baker or anything along those lines, Grow Condos can find you a property and tailor it to your needs. However, they don’t stop there. They offer one of the only ‘lease to buy’ options in the industry, providing a more affordable way for businesses to own their entire operation. Wayne has loved the Cannabis industry for years and is fueled by his interactions with other professionals in the space. He recently took time out of his hectic schedule to share his passion for the industry and what makes his entrepreneurial mind tick.
What is Grow Condos all about? What is at its core?
At its core, Grow Condos supplies Cannabis entrepreneurs the realistic and affordable chance to build out and own the property where they do business. We are real estate developers specializing in industrial warehouse condominiums for the Cannabis industry. After we acquire land we build it to the exact specifications the industry requires; accounting for water, sewer, ventilation and power needs. Once we finish the shell the entrepreneur can come in and finish building out the space.
What makes us even more excited about what we do is the unmatched opportunity we provide the Cannabis entrepreneur. For example, an aspiring business can come in with $200K and build out the space exactly how they envision it, allowing them to maximize productivity and generate cash flow more quickly. The best part for us is that we provide the entrepreneur the chance to actually BUY the space after three years, giving the business the chance to develop further independence. Not only can they become more self reliant with this method, but they also save money by not having to build out a new location. Under normal circumstances, a business might rent their space and be forced to relocate when their lease expires. We give you the chance to OWN your business entirely.
Why did you start Grow Condos, Inc.? Do you have a personal interest in the cannabis industry or did you just see it as a great business opportunity?
I would say it was a combination of personal interest and business opportunity. Awhile back my partner and I were in the Internet business, importing products from China. We purchased a 12,000Sq/ft warehouse and used it to operate our inventory. We only took up part of the space so we leased it out to other businesses as well. We eventually sold our Internet venture and around the same time a number of the contractors leasing from us folded. This left us with an empty space and a mortgage payment. So we put the warehouse up for rent.
What we figured out was exciting. Not only were Cannabis cultivators looking for a space to lease, but they would also pay higher rent than the average business. We started leasing to the Cannabis industry and realized it was a much more stable industry and we could worry less about our tenants. Soon I found another building just down the road. I built it out and had it fully leased within 4 weeks of completion. All with NO advertising. Right then we saw a niche in the market where we could create a great business that directly helped the Cannabis industry. We dove in headfirst.
Grow Condos is located in Eagle Point Oregon, now that Oregon has voted to legalize marijuana how has that impacted Oregon’s real estate market and Grow Condos?
I would say that legalization has certainly had a positive impact on the real estate market. Southern Oregon is part of the emerald triangle, which makes it a great spot for outdoor gardens. Rural properties, in places where land and water access is abundant, are getting sold almost as soon as they hit the market. Commercially speaking, the demand for industrial warehouses cultivators can use for indoor operations far outreaches the supply. That is perfect for Grow Condos because, not only do we want to supply that demand, we also want to set businesses up for long term success but creating a warehouse that fits their exact needs and one they can eventually buy.
Wayne, from your perspective, what is most important to running a successful public company?
I think it’s important to keep your investors happy. At Grow Condos we constantly focus on getting cash flow positive on our new real estate properties. Once we acquire a property, we plan it, build it and list it. The demand for type of service in the Cannabis market is so high, especially when you talk about warehouses custom built for the industry. It simply affords entrepreneurs the chance to get the most out of their money. That’s why we love this business. We can make our consumers happy while providing investors the return they had hoped for. That’s been our key to success.
From a personal standpoint, what is the most rewarding aspect about being CEO of Grow Condos?
The two things I find most rewarding are satisfying the people of the industry and the shareholders of our company. I love working with the businesses that occupy our buildings because there are some great people in the Cannabis industry. It also makes me very proud that I can provide investors with a great opportunity and then deliver them results. I take that mission personally and I invest a lot of myself towards that goal.
Where do you want to see Grow Condos in the next 12 months?
Grow Condos has a number of projects in the works and we’re hopeful to be generating much more cash flow over the next year. We have a 45,000Sq/ft project in Eugene that should be completed, as well as developing projects in Nevada and Portland. Overall our goal is to get as many projects finished as possible, allowing us to fulfill as much of the current demand as possible and purchase more real estate to develop.
What do you personally see will be the tipping point for the Federal Government to change marijuana from its current Schedule 1 status?
I think California is the key. California is the most populated state in America by over 10 million people, so whenever they make the move to recreational legalization I think the federal government will have no choice but to take notice. Personally this whole movement amazes me. I’m in my 60’s now and I never thought any sort of legalization would happen in my lifetime. However, now I live in Oregon, a state where it is both medically and recreationally legal. These are very exciting times. The cow has left the barn and it’s never going back in.
Tell us about a normal day for you. What does it look like?
I would say it is hard to use the word normal. Everyday presents its own unique challenges. In general though, I spend a good amount of time coordinating with all of our vendors(realtors, builders, engineers) to keep our projects moving along at high speeds. I will also spend time creating plans and projections for our properties or talking with investors to raise capital for future or current projects. Basically my normal day consists of me doing all I can to constantly be moving Grow Condos forward at all times.
While at your office, what is the one thing we will never find you without?
Unfortunately it would have to be my cell phone. Real estate is such a social business I find myself living on my phone more often than I would like to admit.
How do you end your day? What is the last thing you do before you leave to set yourself up for future success?
I always establish my plan for the following day before I leave the office. That prevents me from spending too much time in the morning deciding which direction to go. I can show up and hit the ground running. It is a tactic I learned over the years that has certainly contributed to my success.
How do you set yourself up for daily success? What’s the one thing you always have to have in your office? Join the conversation by commenting below!