For most people, playing sports is just another way to have fun with friends, let off steam, or get some exercise. But for entrepreneurs, sometimes it means something more. Meet Derrick McNeil. Growing up in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Derrick loved playing sports and even attended college with plans to pursue basketball. His competitive nature and training sparked the energy he needed to found his own real estate company in 2020. DMPA Investment Group assists banks, credit unions, and other institutions on relinquishing properties and other liabilities while maximizing their returns. By purchasing those liabilities, DMPA is then able to place those deals in front of other investors. In a highly competitive market, Derrick’s story proves that in order to get ahead you need to have the right charge, but above all, you have to put people’s needs first.
Derrick McNeil comes from a family of founders. His mother, Abigail Gordon, is the author of Purposeful Healing who also ran her own organization called Forgiving Gifts, helping people overcome personal trauma. Meanwhile, his father owned his own real estate business in Maryland, which ultimately sparked Derrick’s interest in the industry. However, Derrick’s biggest influence comes from his uncle, Mark McNeil, who owns the Forbes-featured luxury travel agency VOMOS. Mark’s motto of putting his customer’s needs before his own is what inspired Derrick to choose the direction where to steer his business.
You come from a whole family of entrepreneurs. What kind of impact did your parents have on you today?
Without my dad being in real estate here in Coatesville and giving me advice about the industry, I couldn’t say that I would be in it today. Just seeing him and the freedom that he had, how he could be around a lot more, and seeing how we were in a good position financially. That had an impact on me and played a big part in me getting into real estate.
What my mom does through her organization is help anyone struggling with personal problems to overcome them, such as divorce or childhood trauma. Anything in life people don’t understand why they go through and don’t know how to defeat, she helps them break it down by drawing from her own past experiences. What she does is amazing and very inspiring. She has always been my biggest supporter, no matter what I set out to do.
I understand your uncle also has his own travel agency business. How did that inspire you?
The way he structured his business opened my eyes. It’s never “me, me, me.” If people want to go somewhere, take a jet ride, or rent a luxurious car, normally you have to have money to live that kind of lifestyle, but he doesn’t have a problem providing it to them in a nice way. If they’re on vacation and they need a chef, he does it. So just seeing him offer a service is kind of aligned with what I do. He can step in and give people what they want or what they need at a certain time. It’s definitely something I look up to.
How did playing basketball influence how you view entrepreneurship today?
Playing basketball or any type of sport is a mental battle. Back when I was playing I had to dedicate a certain amount of time to the gym, a certain amount of time studying, a certain amount of time just getting my body right to be able to endure a basketball season. So that also applies to business. You have to dedicate time to the office and time to the people you’re working with. I get the same feeling I did before a game as I do before I get on a call with someone. I feel that way because of all the work ethic that I put in and I know I’m about to reap the results.
Your first step into entrepreneurship was when you started a clothing line with your cousin in high school. I know it didn’t really take off the way you hoped, but what would you say was an important lesson that you learned from that time?
Just knowing your market and knowing what is trendy because there are a lot of things out there that sell that you might think are ridiculous, but other people love. So you have to know how to produce that and how to present that to your market.
Is that something that you would ever pursue again?
Yes, because I do like design and I do like clothing. I’m not the biggest fashion guy, but it’s definitely something like it. So if there comes a day that I could talk about it with somebody or my cousin and I want to pursue it again, we would probably go for it.
What was the number one problem you set out to solve when you started DMPA?
Banks have to report what’s on their books—whether they’re in good shape or losing money. Sometimes those banks get bought or have to go under another institution. I saw it happen, personally, so I knew I could step in and help make sure those banks are in good positions so they can sell.
In any business, you see the good, the bad, and the ugly. There’s people out there that like to take advantage—a lot of greedy people who don’t go by any code. I can speak for myself personally and say that I’ve never been a greedy person. I will never try to get over on anybody. I can’t speak for anybody else’s business, but I know that if anybody is working with me, they’ll really appreciate the service.
So what would you say was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your own business?
Being able to get in contact with people. This time last year, I had the idea just sitting in my head, but I didn’t know who to contact. I didn’t know where to get the information other than calling people. So that was a big challenge.
If you’re calling homeowners to inform them you want to buy their house or sell it for them, they get those calls all the time and that’s another challenge in itself. In order to get through those barriers, you have to have a good way of speaking. You have to grab their attention in the first couple of sentences because I know when I get phone calls, that person only has a couple of seconds before I lose interest. All we have is time and nobody wants their time to be wasted.
What has been your most successful moment in recent years?
Being in the position I am right now is probably my most successful moment. I have a few companies that I spoke to these past two months that are interested in working with us and there may be more in these coming months. I plan to sit down and talk about how we can assist them and and hopefully help them reach their goals, restart deadlines, and then move forward. So I would say my most successful moment is yet to come in the future.
What do you look forward to most in in 2021?
I look forward to being busy. I want my phone to be ringing out of control and my email inbox to be so full I need somebody to help me go through it. I’ll be where I wanna be when I don’t have enough time to do certain things and where I have to set up appointments weeks down the line. That kind of goes back to sports. It gives me a a jittery feeling and energizes me. That’s what I look forward to in 2021.
Do you feel like the energy and excitement that you get gives you an edge over your competitors?
Yes. If you’re not energized about your business, then why are you doing it? If an email pops up on my phone right now, I’ll be grinning ear to ear. If a call were to come through and somebody wants to work with me or somebody wants to talk to me about real estate, we could do it and I’ll be very happy in that moment.
If you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
To stick it through. I mean, I’m only 21 right now. So speaking to my younger self in high school, this is a hungry kid. I would say be more patient, make decisions quickly and effectively, and make your changes slowly. See if something works and see if it you like it. If you don’t, then make a change. Relax, really think about it, and then go get it.
Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
I’ll still be doing real estate and making bigger deals. Hopefully, I will have enough capital to buy my own properties or hotels and be well enough to tackle other things I want to do. I want to open my own restaurant. I want to open my own gym as well. However long it takes, I want to have a couple of franchises open that I can put my name on. Hopefully in five to ten years I will have my own family and I can pass on my success to future generations.
To learn more about Derrick’s story, visit DMPA Investment Group.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.