I’ll just cut to the chase here: I may not be the lawyer for you.
If you’re looking for the typical attorney who says not to pursue an opportunity because of what might go wrong, then move on to the next lawyer. I help my clients handicap the situation. Some risks you don’t take. Others you do.
I approach life differently than many other lawyers–I don’t run away from risk. In fact, I embrace it. That doesn’t mean I always take the risk – but if you run away from it without considering it, you never know what opportunity you might have missed.
As an example, I want to tell you about the day I bought 8 pairs of skis and 2 snowboards, and decided to buy a $58,422 ski-tuning machine.
I consider Mt. Hood my second home. I met my wife working at a summer camp there, spent two winters as a ski instructor, and now as a family we spend nearly every winter weekend skiing. My son started when he was just 18 months old, and now at age 7 he can do tricks I can’t imagine trying. We are a skiing family, and it’s worthwhile for us to invest in the equipment.
Which is how I ended up at our neighborhood Sports Authority in July, taking advantage of a liquidation sale. The brand-new store had just opened in October, but by July the parent company had gone bankrupt and the location was closing. All the equipment, including skis, were going cheap. Really cheap. A complete set of skis, bindings, boots, and poles was selling for $64.97 – which is a little more than the cost of renting that setup for a single day. And the same setup for kids was only $39.97. Between my own kids and extended family, I knew we would make good use of these. I bought 5 sets of skis and 1 snowboard setup on my first visit. Then I came back later in the day for another 3 sets of skis and 1 more snowboard setup.
I noticed that everything in the store was for sale, from the merchandise to the shelves and back-room equipment. So out of curiosity, I asked the price for the large ski-tuning machine.
Steven, the customer service rep who was seeing more and more of me, told me the ski-tuning machine was $2,500. That seemed really low, but I’ve never been in the market for a professional ski tuner before. So I took a picture of it and did a Google search to see what I could find about the machine, a Wintersteiger Omega SBI.
After a lot of time researching online, I determined that the retail rate for a new machine like this is $58,422. If the Sports Authority machine was in good condition, then $2,500 would be a steep discount indeed!
Granted, the Wintersteiger would also be a bit more powerful than we would ever need. My family skis a lot, and it’s possible that on a day when the entire family was visiting, we might need to tune 12 sets of skis. By contrast, this machine could tune 400 sets in a day.
But I realized that if I could find a buyer for it, I might be able to make a nice profit that would cover all the costs of the equipment I’d just purchased, and more.
I went back to the store and checked out the machine. It was like-new. Since the store had closed so soon after opening, the machine had only been used for 50 minutes–so it was essentially brand new. I worked out the numbers, estimating that it might cost me $1,000 to get the machine to my house and put it in the garage, and up to $10,000 to ship it to a professional ski tuner somewhere in the US. Even if I sold it for just half of the retail price, I would come out well ahead.
I was ready to buy, and so I asked Steven to confirm the $2,500 price.
He looked at me, surprised, and admitted that he didn’t think I was really in the market for it. Steven had just made up the number. He was going to have to check with his supervisors.
Over the next few days, I called the store multiple times to find out the price. I worked out different price scenarios, to determine where I’d say no and where I’d go for it. My wife prepared her mind and patience to have a huge machine taking up half our garage.
Ultimately, the store manager told me the manufacturer was purchasing it back from the bankrupt company. No doubt they bought it back for more than $2,500.
So what’s the point of this story?
One, I have a patient and loving wife who is willing to indulge my calculated risks.
And two, I approach life differently from many other attorneys. I know that sometimes the idea that seems crazy is actually great. You shouldn’t just jump in without thinking about it. But if you do take the time to think about it and work it out, you might come up with something incredible.
While I didn’t end up with a Wintersteiger Omega SBI that day, I was ready for the possibility and I’m glad I went through the process to decide whether the $2,500 purchase was worth the risk to our family.
I think like an entrepreneur and I enjoy helping individuals and families who embrace opportunities, which means they might have left a comfortable job to start a business or would move to another country to raise their family for the adventure of travel – or buy a $58,422 ski-tuning machine.
Degrees and training aside, this it is what makes me the business and estate planning lawyer you want as the advisor for your business and family. Life isn’t cookie-cutter.