Emmanuel Mengesha is a 39 year old who immigrated to Canada in 1983, eventually settling in the prairie city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is an entrepreneur in the cleaning and real estate industries. Currently, Emmanuel and his business partner own and operate a real estate investment company which they founded approximately one year ago. Their main focuses include buying and flipping homes, as well as acquiring empty lots in order to build new structures on top of them. In his spare time, Emmanuel Mengesha enjoys physical activity, the outdoors, and travel.

Why did you decide to create your own business?

I think that the short answer would be autonomy. The idea of being an entrepreneur is incredibly appealing for people like me who dislike the idea of working for someone else, taking orders, and spending eight hours each day forwarding the goals of another person or company. When someone creates their own business, they own everything; the successes, the failures, the surpluses, the overages, the victories, and the losses. In my mind, although it does matter if I succeed or fail, it matters even more that I did it on my terms—although with the help of others, make no mistake.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

What I love most about the real estate industry is how each day is a little different. Depending on the house we’re working on, I could be spending the day renovating a bathroom, knocking out a wall, or fixing a plumbing issue. It may be hard work flipping houses, but it’s never dull.

Regarding the other side of the business, when it comes to purchasing vacant lots and developing them, I suppose the most rewarding part of the job is creating something where there once was nothing. It gives me a tremendous feeling of accomplishment to see a new, fully-formed house or commercial property where only a few months before there was only asphalt and weeds.

What keeps you motivated?

I love all manner of physical and outdoor activities. The thought of taking a long hike at dusk to cap off a workday gives me something to look forward to on a daily basis. Sometimes I think ahead to a pickup game of basketball, or an afternoon on the links, or a weekend appointment to play tennis with one of my friends. These thoughts take some of the edge off while, for instance, I am installing a new ceiling fan in the living room of a house that we’re flipping. Then there’s travelling. The thought of planning my next vacation to some tropical island or culturally significant locale provides me with ample motivation to keep plugging away every day.

How do you motivate others?

I think it’s important to pay people well and to give them compliments when they’re earned. Every once in a while, our company subcontracts work out to local handymen and independent contractors. In order to ensure they do their level best to perform whatever we job we need them to do, we make sure to pay them a fair price for their services. Afterward, if they’ve done a good job, my business partner and I make it a point to tell them so. Recognition of quality work is never an unwelcome thing. And I think when and if we ever use that handyman or contractor again, they might give us a little extra effort.

How has your company grown from its early days to now?

To be honest, because we started the company just a little over a year ago, it is still early days. Things have changed in some ways already, though. For example, when we started, we only had one house to flip. After we did so successfully and sold it, we bought another, and then another, and then another until the profits mounted to the point where we bought two houses and had them on the go simultaneously. At this point, we always have multiple properties undergoing construction, while we have even more on the market attracting the interest of potential buyers. The company has grown substantially in a single year.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I derive a lot of inspiration from my adopted country. Even though I immigrated here almost forty years ago, I still stand in awe of Canada, its geographic beauty, its reputation amongst the world’s other nations, and all the wonderful people that live here. There is no place I would rather live.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

I have a great respect for Sir John A. MacDonald, one of the principal founders and early statesmen of Canada. He was the very first Prime Minister of this country, and he was an immigrant, too. He was born in Scotland. I know the man had his faults, but what he accomplished by confederating the provinces was nothing short of miraculous. The lives of a great many people would be very different had he not accomplished the things he did.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

I have to call back to one of my earlier answers and say with physical and outdoor activities. Call me crazy, but I think staying in shape while having fun is good for both the body and the disposition. It makes me genuinely happy, and what better balance is there than that?

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?

I would say that I’m tenacious; once I get an idea into my head, I focus on it intently until it’s executed properly. That being said, I’m not rigid. I will always adapt the strategies I use for achieving my goals based on how any given situation unfolds. So, I guess I would say that I’m tenacious, yet adaptable. That combination of characteristics seems to be working for me.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

As someone who only very recently began to flip houses, I would tell someone just starting out on the house flipping path not to skimp on materials. Pay the cost for quality stuff. You will not regret it, and it may come back to pay dividends sooner than you think in the form of buyers paying slightly more to acquire the property. Far more often than not, it’s worth it.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

A wiser property developer than I once related this tidbit: “You can fix everything about a house but its location.” Truer words were never spoken. A house’s location and its surrounding neighbourhood is the single most determinative factor for the amount of money someone will pay for it. So, it’s with this thought in mind that my business partner and I scout real estate prospects. 

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I think creating the company and making it profitable is my biggest accomplishment so far. But I also think I have bigger accomplishments to come.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?

When renovating a bathroom, or just working with plumbing in general, it is extremely wise to remove any rings, watches, or other expensive and irreplaceable items from your hands and forearms. I’m sure that’s obvious advice to most people, but just in case it isn’t, I thought I might reiterate it here. I don’t know how many wedding bands end up in the sewer every year, but I’m sure it’s more than a few.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

Autonomy, both financial and otherwise, is the truest essence of freedom.

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

If the current rate of expansion holds, the company ought to be five times larger by the time 5 years rolls around. As for me, even though I’ll be five years older, I hope I’ll also be five years wiser, and with a lot more world travel under my belt, as well.