AUGUST 15, 2018
Meet Ali Jamal of Stablegold Hospitality
Today we’d like to introduce you to Ali Jamal.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 1972 Idi Amin, a dictator who staged a coup in Uganda, forced all Asian minorities in the country to leave within 48 days. There was a major upheaval, many Asians left homes, businesses and all of their worldly possessions back in Uganda while they arrived in countries such as England and Canada as refugees. My family including my parents, Uncles and Grandparents were a part of this wave or refugees.
My parents ended up in Vancouver, Canada. Starting from scratch, my Mothers teachers certificate was not recognized in Canada, so she accepted a job as a typist for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Regardless of her current situation, she was an entrepreneur at heart. She started to make roti’s (an Indian form or chapati’s or naan) and started selling it door to door in the apartment complex she lived in at the time to earn extra money for the family.
My Father, at the same time, worked odd jobs, trying to make ends meet such as janitorial or basic construction work. As time went on, my Mother started to save the little money she could and would save enough until she had the funds for a down payment for investment properties.
By the time I was 19 I was ready to purchase my first sports car. For the past two years, I had been saving money in jobs such as cashier and courier and I now had about $10 K to put towards a new Honda Civic SI!! When I went to my Mom asking her to co-sign on my new soon to be auto loan she looked me dead in the eye and said “You are not going to buy that stupid car,” she told me. And when I tried to venture off to the car dealership anyway, she forced me to spend my savings on a down payment for a condo in Downtown, Vancouver.
At 19, and against my wishes, my mom had turned me into an investor. She told me, “God can only manufacture one thing: Land. And I hear he’s not making any more of it, so buy now!” Fast forward to 9 years later and the condo I had purchased for $170 K at the time was now worth a whopping $600 K!! Over the years seeing the growth in my first real estate investment I started to diversify my portfolio and started acquiring more real estate investment assets utilizing equity gains and financial investments from family members willing to help me expand my portfolio.
It was around this time, that my accountant mentioned to me that due to the depressed real estate market in the USA, there was real estate deals to be found south of the border.
He sent me the information on a 127 room Hotel located in a City called Atlanta, Georgia. It seemed too good to be true. I booked a flight to Atlanta, and within 24 hours I was walking the halls of a large Hotel in Roswell that had been shut down for close to 2 years. The asking price for the Hotel was equivalent to what I would purchase a 600 sq ft condo in Downtown, Vancouver.
I first pinched myself and then called my Uncle in London. After being expelled from Uganda he and his two brothers had established a chain of pharmacies and then sold that business to invest in Hotels in the 1980’s. I spoke to my Uncle at length on why I saw this project as a viable business opportunity. What I needed most was his financial investment and mentorship. I was lucky enough to receive both. Within a 72 hour span, I had quit my corporate job working for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association, purchased this Hotel venture and was meeting my Uncle in Atlanta to get the operation up and running.
One week after purchasing a business I had never run before, myself, my 70 year Uncle at the time, 2 housekeepers, and 1 maintenance man opened the Economy Hotel, Roswell.
We had no idea how to run such a big hotel but through trial and error, we learned over time. To cut down on operating costs, I ran the front desk operations 14 hours a day and slept in a room at the Hotel while my Uncle monitored operations. The first couple of years living and working in our first Atlanta based hotel was tough, to say the least, but as we learned and grew we started to propel the business forward.
Seven and a half years later and Stable gold Hospitality has put together a portfolio of seven extended stay hotels, $9 million in sales and close to 100 employees Georgia wide.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road. We purchase distressed assets from banks or from investors looking to sell their businesses quickly, so once we acquire the business there is a lot of work to be done. From putting in place a team to renovating the property, to turning a profit—this business has to be one of the most challenging out there. Because we are involved in the affordable housing segment many of our customers arrive with life/social and economic challenges. That can create an environment on our properties that are not always easy to manage. Developing the right team and mindset to deal with our challenges has been key.
Personally, starting from scratch in a Country we did not know and in a business model we did not fully know has at times taken its toll. Going through feelings of loneliness and anxiety on what tomorrow might bring was definitely there in our early days. As the business stabilized and we continued to learn, life became easier from a business perspective. Also, personally I started to develop relationships and social bonds which anchored me to the City–the most important one being my wife whom I met in Atlanta.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Stablegold Hospitality story. Tell us more about the business.
Stablegold Hospitality is a real estate investment company that specializes in affordable accommodations for low/no income individuals and families. We decided to do something out-of-the-box for the hotel industry and took a page from Wal-Mart, placing focus on volume vs. room rates. This ingenuity has developed a unique business model that allows us to profitably serve a demographic most businesses shy away from and in doing so we perform a service for the entire community by saving and re-purposing buildings that might otherwise remain vacant.
What started in 2011 as one rundown and shutdown hotel is now a thriving business, which includes approximately 1500 Metro Atlanta rental units – consisting of seven independently operated extended stay hotels and single family residential housing – and employs more than 100 people directly and indirectly in the local Atlanta area.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I do not believe in “luck” per se. I do believe in manifesting your vision. Believe it or not, years ago when I was first starting off investing in Real Estate I envisioned myself exactly where I am today. Owning a real estate investment company, is an expert in my field, being in the Hotel business etc, etc.
I spend time visualizing every morning and I have learned that active visualization + massive action= things going the way you want it to over time (with a few bumps in the road of course—-how else can you learn?)
Address: 9995 Old Dogwood Road, Roswell, GA, 30076
Email: [email protected]