Chad Cassiday: Founder and Owner of LaCati Group
Growing up, I never dreamed of building custom houses or developing apartment complexes. All I wanted to do was play sports and race motorcycles. My Dad was a pipefitter, and as he was building our house growing up, I remember looking at all the pipes in the mechanical room and cleaning copper fittings wondering how it all worked.
My parents always put my brothers and me to work. I hand dug graves at a local cemetery, mowed lawns, delivered newspapers, cleaned construction offices, and worked construction sites. After graduating from high school, I went to Michigan State University and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. My parents paid for my first two years of school, and I paid for my last two by working my summers and school breaks. I graduated with no debt and a few thousand dollars to my name. As a reward for finishing school, on my drive home from college I bought a new motorcycle. I will never forget loading up the bike in my brother’s truck thinking about what was next.
I got a job at Dow Chemical as a production engineer and bought my first house to fix up at 22 years old. I eventually ran two production plants, fixed up the house, and realized that I needed to get some additional business skills. I got into The University of Michigan, transferred to Ann Arbor, and completed my MBA while working full time in sales for Dow. While in school, I took a real estate class with an adjunct professor who was one of the larger developers in the Ann Arbor area. His plan was brilliant…. have dozens of MBA students evaluate real estate projects for free, then develop the ones that looked profitable. What a program!! So I ended up buying my own building with a classmate. We worked nights and weekends putting in “sweat equity” and redeveloped the building into loft style apartments and office space. We had tax credits for 25% of our construction cost, I had my money back in 6 months, and we still owned the building. I figured why not try that again?
After graduating, I started buying small apartment buildings. I remember working my day job while figuring out how I was going to improve the properties. I got a few more units under my belt and I was having more fun working on apartment buildings than working in my “real job.” I knew that I had to try it on my own, so I handed in my company laptop and started buying more apartment buildings and fixing up houses. The houses got bigger and the apartment buildings got larger. One thing stayed the same – integrity, honesty, faith, and hard work. After all the projects though one thing became very clear. I realized that I wasn’t driving the bus alone. It was my faith and God. That is very clear to me now.