In the early days, we didn’t value virtue over talent.
Avesta started in 2010, but we got into real estate in 2005 and started buying three- and four-unit buildings in the Northeast. And in 2007, we initially took the approach of “get someone who’s going to get the job done at the right price.”
We learned over time that that’s not the way to go. You have to go with virtue over talent. I remember hiring a gentleman who ran our maintenance. Now he had a tough background. That was clear. It was not clear [whether] he had gotten past his background. He knew how to fix things, and he knew enough people that could jump on the job with him and assist him to get vacant apartment homes ready to rent.
When [my brother and I] were there that summer, he was reliable. He got there on time and got the job done. But at the end of the summer, we had to leave. And after we left, we would come back on weekends. [It turned out that] he probably spent five days figuring out how to steal from us, and he did so successfully and cleverly.
By the time we discovered it, he had stolen a lot of money. And it was just devastating. We just couldn’t believe it.