At the age of 18, when most people are focusing on graduating from high school, going off to college, or getting their first full-time job, Randy Gervais was launching his first business. He started CheckerBox, a high-end men’s accessories company, which he quickly grew into a thriving online company.
Gervais was fortunate to grow up in a business-minded household, which definitely had its benefits. He says, “I was able to watch my parents grow our family business. I saw what they sacrificed, and the countless hours they put into making the business successful.”
Now in his early twenties, Gervais has taken the drive and hustle he learned from his parents and from his first foray in business and launched Gervais Development, a real estate development company in New Orleans. His goal in starting this new business was to take his passion for real estate and create a company that complemented his personal style. Gervais has always been inspired by the idea of “development,” and likens himself to an artist who creates music or a fashion designer who develops his own fabric. It’s the process of orchestrating the entire process of a building going up that he finds exciting.
Gervais’ company designs, builds, and executes new real estate properties—both commercial and residential. It focuses on bringing what Gervais calls a “new, modern millennial perspective” to the marketplace. When asked what that means, practically speaking, he says, “Millennials are a very visual generation. We become loyal to brands and companies when their core values and style align with ours. We document every development from start to finish. Our goal is to show the attention to detail, while innovating a market that will bring excitement and new business opportunities to cities.”
Real estate investing is not without its challenges, according to Gervais. He says the most challenging part is often finding the land on which to develop.
“There are more people every day and less land. Finding the right deals, understanding why a property is on the market, seeing how many times that property has sold in the last few years all take time and lots of effort. To excel in the commercial market, your work ethic needs to be unmatched.”
One thing that makes Gervais unique in the real estate development industry—especially as a newcomer to the industry—is that his company funds all of its own projects, rather than relying on investors. Gervais is constantly reinvesting in his business to help make it a success. He says, “Don’t save money to save. Save money to invest.”
When asked what his advice would be to those interested in entering the real estate development field, Gervais says, “There is no secret to success. It’s just consistent hard work. You have to be mentally prepared 24/7, not just in your business life, but also in your personal life. Everything I do, I do for a reason. I only work out physically to help me mentally. Develop a 5-year plan and stick to it.”
He also contends that you have to forge your own path when it comes to business. He even goes so far as to say that entrepreneurs shouldn’t seek out mentors. In Gervais’ opinion, mentors often keep an entrepreneur from helping himself or herself. Instead, Gervais relies on support from his team of family and friends who help him move forward, and draws inspiration from his late father, whom he lost to cancer this past year.
What’s next for Gervais? For the foreseeable future, his focus will remain on real estate investing. However, he also says, “I’m a developer at heart, but that doesn’t mean I only develop real estate. I will never box myself in.”
You can learn more about Gervais Development and their work here.