LinkedIn has been an incredible tool for me to meet new people and enhance legacy relationships. One thing that I do differently than 99.9% of the people I’ve met on LinkedIn is to send an introductory note so you can get a flavor on who I am, what I am all about, and if I can help your career in any way. This is LinkedIn after all and we are here to advance our careers, right?
LinkedIn has been a wonderful way to connect with like-minded folks all around the world interested in expanding their business network. The purpose of this note is to provide a deeper dive on my background, my goals, and my motivation and share what I am focusing on for the next 12 months to see if any alignments can be found. My goal is to find out quickly if we have any common ground and a path to creating mutually beneficial business opportunities.
Professional background and capabilities…
  • Lifelong entrepreneur, voracious reader, deep thinker and code cracker always looking for opportunities, overlooked patterns, and future trends
  • Began a lifelong obsession with commercial real estate (CRE) investment, development, and finance in 1985 when I purchased my first distressed apartment complex in my hometown of Buffalo, NY
  • Focused on the “money side” of CRE dealmaking since 1997
  • Builder of strong, meaningful, long-term relationships with traditional sources of capital including banks, LifeCos, Fannie, Freddie, FHA, CMBS as well as alternative investors such as hedge funds, private equity funds, ultra high net worth investors, EB-5 Regional Centers and Crowdfunding platforms
  • Track record of funding debt and equity on multifamily, office, retail, industrial, hotels, single tenant net leased properties, and land development projects
I moved to Tampa Bay, Florida in 1991 from Buffalo, NY. In 1994 I co-founded Bison Financial Group with my brother, Jared. Bison has participated in $1+ billion in CRE transactions as a principal or advisor. Bison’s CRE practice is concentrated in the following categories:
  • As an advisor/fee-based consultant we deliver debt and equity capital on income producing CRE projects. Our niche is to focus exclusively on servicing the capital needs of “deal junkie” CRE developers / investors / turn-around artists that need constant, reliable access to the debt and equity capital to execute on their vision. We arrange acquisition, bridge, construction, permanent, mezzanine and promotable preferred equity. Focused on opportunities to arrange $5+ million in debt or equity for clients that have $50+ million in assets under management. Our “target client” is an ambitious real estate entrepreneur requiring logical, dependable delivery of capital. We are proud of our relationships that have resulted in closing 36 transactions with one client and funding 35 loans with one lender. We have numerous proprietary capital relationships including investors that finance up to 90% of the capital stack for new construction projects, up to 97% of cost for value-added projects, and a special program for merchant developers that will fund up to 112% of project cost. While we can deliver debt and equity solutions for just about any type of income producing commercial property, as of this writing our pipeline is primarily composed of:
    • value-added multifamily properties
    • ground-up multifamily properties including student housing, market rate multifamily properties, and senior housing properties across the acuity spectrum (ILF/ALF/ALZ).
    • Read more.
  • As a principal we are seeking compelling investment opportunities for our own account. Bison’s principals are aligned with proprietary capital partners seeking compelling, risk-adjusted CRE investment opportunities. We seek opportunities to create multi-generational wealth through strategically acquiring, renovating or developing income producing assets. What sets us apart from the herd is that we are willing to take development and construction risk. Past projects include: Multifamily Rental Housing, Student Housing, For-Sale Condominiums, Residential Land Development, Senior Housing, Urban Core High-Density Mixed Use projects, Retail, Flex/Office/Warehouse, Municipal Infrastructure Projects and Build-to-Suits on long-term leases with high credit quality tenants. Focused on opportunities to deploy $10+ million per project or credit profile. As of this writing our pipeline is primarily composed of:
    • student housing (nationwide)
    • senior housing (Florida and select markets nationwide)
    • single tenant net leased properties
    • Read More.
When Lehman Brothers fell in 2008 and the CRE market collapsed… I found myself with an abundance of time on my hands. While in hindsight I should have bought that 64-footsailboat I dreamed about and taken my family on a multi-year cruise through the Caribbean (sigh)… I began researching investment opportunities outside my comfort zone of CRE.
My intellectual curiosity was piqued when I discovered opportunities to invest in cleantech (a.k.a. alternative energy / renewable energy / green energy / clean energy / sustainable infrastructure). It may sound crazy at first, but when  you think about it… there are many similarities between CRE build-to-suit projects and infrastructure projects. They both have large, definable, upfront capital cost with high barriers to entry and a logical, predictable income stream paid by an investment grade counter-party for a long period of time created under binding, legally enforceable contractual agreements. The more research I did I discovered that legendary investors like Warren Buffett and Sam Zell were placing multi-billion dollar investments in the space.
I am pursuing projects with experienced development teams in which I concentrate on delivering the debt and equity capital required to build large-scale projects powered by natural gas, wind, solar, and municipal solid waste. I am especially fascinated by opportunities to create energy from waste streams since these projects positively impact the electrical grid as well as keep our environment clean.
Why Waste-to-Energy (WtE)?
Rather than landfilling household garbage, medical waste and industrial waste, a WtE plant gets paid to receive this energy rich resource. The waste is sorted for recyclables (an additional income stream) and the remainder is used as fuel to create heat to make steam. This steam is used to turn a turbine to create baseload electricity. I liked the fact that the concept of using steam to turn a turbine is nothing new… boiling water to make steam to turn a turbine has been used for 100+ years and is the core technology of just about every coal, natural gas or nuclear power plant operating around the world.
The Repka family’s private investment company teamed up with The Hoskinson Group (THG) as our technology partner to develop WtE projects worldwide. THG was chosen because of their track record of creating 3,000+ WtE machines since the 1960s and being able to handle waste with a very high moisture content (up to 60% moisture) that tends to bog down competing, much more expensive technologies. THG’s high heat process thoroughly eviscerates the waste streams eliminating pathogens and toxins that could have leached out of a traditional garbage dump contributing to groundwater pollution and the spread of infectious diseases (yes, THG’s process completely eliminates medical waste including Ebola waste). The THG process reduces the waste by 95% leaving only a sand-like ash which can be used as a landfill cover, road base material or mixed with concrete or asphalt (another income stream).
Our business model is to enter into a long-term contract to sell the renewable electricity we create to the grid or to a direct, investment grade customer seeking a cleaner, greener energy alternative. THG delivers a solution set that includes bankable technology and the construction to permanent funding needed to design, build, own and operate each project. THG’s business development team is currently in pre-development on projects on six continents. – Read more.  We are creating compelling co-investment opportunities that will generate significant, multi-generational cash flows for our financial partners. Let me know if you would like to make money by helping me eliminate the scourge or landfilling and making the world a greener place for the next generation.
Philanthropy:
What started as a lark in 2002 as a “Beer Breakfast” for a handful of friends in a Downtown St. Petersburg dive bar on a rainy Saturday morning has morphed to an event that has raised thousands of dollars for local, Tampa Bay charities. Word has spread to friends, friends-of-friends and with the miracle of social media our little get together is now attended by hundreds of guests each year coming from all over the USA, Canada and Europe to be part of the fun. We put the “fun” in fund raising events combining Indy Cars Racing 180 mph on the streets of St. Pete, beer, and breakfast. To learn more about our tradition of “Revelry ~ Fellowship ~ Sanctuary” visit our website2011-BIG-DAVE
Looking forward to collaborating with you.