Real transformations: Jason Coalter talks about his foray into real estate

Monday, August 16, 2010
Jason Coalter stands in front of a house he is renovating on South Ellis in Cape Girardeau Friday, August 6, 2010. (Laura Simon)

You wear many hats -- tell us a little about your various jobs and roles.

During the day, you are most likely to find me at Cape Girardeau Printing Co. surrounded by a fun and hardworking team. My daily tasks include serving clients, developing marketing ideas and recruiting new business. With regard to real estate, my tasks are much the same. I stay busy with acquisitions, financing, leasing and management.

How did you get into the real estate business? What do you enjoy about it?

I have my father, Ted Coalter, to thank for the opportunity to get into real estate. When I was 18 years old, our printing company was located on Sprigg Street. Every day I drove home via Good Hope, passing distressed property along the way. I began to envision some of the houses brand new, with original architecture. Dad helped me acquire our first property with a goal of establishing some extra income. This backfired, as I ended up $20,000 over budget and moved in. My dad was less than impressed!

The fulfillment for me is taking a condemned house and transforming it into the nicest house on the street. I learn something new every day and each day is different. I have the opportunity to partner with outstanding people. I work with my dad and Roy Felty. I also partner with John & Jerrie Heisserer for C&H Group and Dustin Richardson with Centurion Development. My partners keep me motivated and inspired. I owe them more than they know.

What is it about downtown and South Cape that speaks to you?

I always root for the underdog. Downtown and South Cape is the oldest part of our community. It was developed first and is therefore the root. Unfortunately, it has become the most neglected area of our community. I encounter many naysayers, but I like a challenge. I want downtown and South Cape to be a better place. We have an obligation to care about all of our city and citizens, not just pieces and parts. Ordinances should apply and be enforced south of William Street.

What does this work mean to you personally and to the people of South Cape?

I hope by the changes that we have made and will continue to make we have inspired others to take pride in their home and street. Financial status aside, all people deserve the opportunity to reside in safe, sanitary housing.

How has the economy affected your real estate ventures? What keeps you going?

Lending has definitely tightened. You must dot your i's and cross your t's more than ever. A solid plan is essential to getting a lender on board. From an occupancy standpoint, we have been fortunate. Most of our tenants are with us long-term and take pride in their residence.

You're so young, but you've already accomplished so much! Have you ever had trouble getting people to take you seriously?

I am 31 and I have worked with some great individuals. A vision is nothing without the right people to make it happen. Some people think I'm too aggressive, impulsive and optimistic. They might tell you I am fighting a losing battle. I'm optimistic -- they are wrong!

What is the key to being successful at such a young age?

I don't really know how you measure success. But, I can say I am having a great time working with people that I love. My advice … don't focus on money; there is never enough. Look for passive income, be a team player and say please and thank you.

What's next for you?

More of the same with more appreciation for those I'm around. I'm always looking for new opportunities. Stay tuned.

What do you do when you're not working?

I've got the greatest family on Earth: a wife, Lesley, who thinks I work too much but loves me anyway; my 4-year-old son, Jake, who thinks I am a superhero because I can drive a tractor and fix his toys; and my 4-month-old, Tate, whose first words, I just know, will be "da da." I love spending time with my family. A few of my favorite things…boating, grilling, driving anything with a motor, and hanging out with great friends.

My community involvement is currently focused on helping support low-income families. I also serve on the Friends Board at Saint Francis Medical Center and volunteer for the American Cancer Society. I support the Shriner's Club for crippled children, Notre Dame Regional High School, Cape Central and Prodigy Leadership Academy.

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