Lee Fondiller is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Syracuse, New York, and then later to Baltimore, Maryland, where he graduated from high school. Before completing his four year degree in Agribusiness at the University of Maryland, Lee purchased a franchise in a commercial cleaning business. He ran that business until he graduated from UM, which enabled him to earn the money required for graduate school. He enrolled in Johns Hopkins University, eventually earning a Master of Science degree in Environmental Sciences.
Upon leaving college, Lee created a document imaging company that provided business-to-business (B2B) services for document storage and indexing for fast retrieval. After some time had passed, he sold that business to a company that would keep him on the payroll for the next two decades as their product manager. All through this time period, Lee busied himself by developing new businesses, the most notable of which was Global Tracking Group, a company that outfitted personal and fleet vehicles with tracking devices. He still serves as the chief operations officer (COO) of Global Tracking Group to this day.
In 2017, Lee Fondiller decided to try his hand at the real estate market. He founded a new company in order to manage multiple house flips and the purchase of several rental properties. Currently, Lee owns and operates this company while simultaneously performing his role at Global Tracking Group.
Lee enjoys woodworking and having fun with his family during his personal time. As of 2021, he has been married for nearly 18 years, and has one child who is about to begin college in the fall.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
I’ve always felt a strong need to create something of my own. I’ve started many businesses, some more successful than others, and, regardless of the result, I have always come away knowing that this is what I was meant to do. Working one job for many years is an important part of a person’s self-worth. It fosters commitment and drive. But there are also opportunities to explore business ideas that benefit myself and those around me. I’ve done both though, and the excitement is in being my own boss.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I take great pride in not cutting corners. It gives me confidence and self-respect to know for certain that when a family moves into a house that I have fixed up, they will have a quality home to live in and be proud of for years to come.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My biggest role model is my father. I developed my work ethic and knack for entrepreneurialism from his example. He worked in manufacturing, ran an ice cream store and lunch counter, and at almost 80 years old, he still works a full-time job. He wouldn’t have it any other way. He works for the Palm Beach County Police Department as an administrator, still getting up early in the morning to work. He told me that when a good opportunity presents itself, you need to jump on it because you never know when that opportunity will go away. I enjoy my work as he does, and hope to be working for that long should that be what I want for myself at that stage in life.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
In the past, I didn’t always maintain a solid work life balance, but I realized very quickly after the birth of my son that I wanted to make sure not to miss any of the important milestones in his life. I wanted to slow down time as much as possible so I wouldn’t ever hear myself say that it all went by too fast or that I missed too much time with my family.
What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?
I try to be fair but firm. Work needs to get done, period. One way or another, things need to be finished, so I try to give people—be they co-workers, subordinates, or contractors—enough space to get what I need done in a way that best suits my needs, but also helps them develop their own skills.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
One of the best things I can suggest is to be patient. With the real estate and housing industry the way it is at the moment, there is not a lot of inventory and prices have been and continue to be on the rise. Wait for a good, solid deal, and there are many of them out there even if it doesn’t appear so, right now. You just have to be willing to be patient. Once that deal comes through, however, you have to be ready to pounce on it, and to have everything you need to complete the job ready and waiting.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
Learning to work with different types of personalities and people in general has been an obstacle that I’ve worked hard to master. Realizing that not everyone is as motivated as I am, or thinks the same way about business that I do, has made me sharpen my people skills. I do much more listening than I have in the past so I can better relate to people and react more appropriately to what they say.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I would say that I’m defined most by my relationships outside of work. I am close with family and friends and try to spend time enjoying life with them whenever possible.
What trends in your industry excite you?
With the unfortunate events of the past 18 months or so concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, I know that there will be many opportunities in the real estate sector due to the massive increase in buying, selling, and renovating. And that’s not even taking into account the untold consequences from market upheaval that have yet to materialize. The sad reality is that there will be many foreclosures that present buying opportunities. Meanwhile, the nature of commercial real estate is changing, with many offices closing and people working from home more. Some of this is bad news, but it does provide the ability for entrepreneurs to innovate. It will help create a new crop of ideas developed by people based on their own experiences with COVID-19.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
The proudest day of my professional life was when I sold my first property after laboring to rehabilitate it for nine long months. It was an amazing learning experience which I have carried with me ever since. Sitting across from the family buying that house as they signed the papers and knowing that they would be raising their kids there made me proud to have done such a quality job for them.