February 28, 2012

Dreams Come True – Winning Story by Andrew Fleming

In the January Story Theater Newsletter, I shared three of my Dreams Come True stories, and I announced a contest to submit your Dreams Come True story for the chance to win 3 hours of private coaching with me.  Two winners were chosen: Andrew Fleming and Laverne Bisskey. Below is Andrew’s winning story.

Dreams Can Come True Despite Adversity!
by Andrew Fleming

As a young apprentice electrician driving around our small New Zealand town of Hawera in the early 90’s I started to dream about how I could own rental properties. I wasn’t earning much money and needed the thrill I got from barefoot water skiing, which I had dreamed about since I was 8 years old. My beloved sport took most of my money and focus through my twenties. 

In 1996 I married the girl of my dreams.  We bought a rental property in Hawera together. I was now a landlord. She was from a farming family and I had the opportunity to go sheep farming. Something else I had dreamed about growing up in a rural area. All my energy, focus and time now went into working on the farm and learning all the new skills I needed. We lived off her income and I worked for very little money to make the farm work for our future together.

One day I was riding around the farm on my quad bike when it flipped going up a hill. I found myself lying in a paddock for 6 hours with a broken back until someone found me. The accident left me paralyzed from the waist down and wheelchair dependant. I spent 10 weeks in hospital thinking about how I was going to go back farming, what sports I would be able to do and how I would manage life in general.  Although I was dealing with the consequences of a tragedy I was very positive about the future. I had a loving wife and I felt we could deal with whatever life threw at us.

Just a week home from hospital my wife said, “I need to talk to you Andrew, don’t worry it’s nothing bad. I’m going to leave you.” I was devastated. On top of this ACC our national accident insurer assessed my income on the worst year in 10 years of self employment. I ended up with an income of $265 per week.

I retained the rental property from the matrimonial settlement. I still had part of my dream. Working wasn’t easy for me so I decided to use the equity I had to buy another property. It was 2001 and property in our area was cheap. I bought a property in the nearby town of Stratford for $32,000.The timing was perfect. It was right before the biggest property boom in years.

A tenant trashed the Hawera property. I had no money and had to somehow get this property renovated and earning money again. My sister lent me some money and I was able to pay a builder to renovate the bathroom and kitchen. With no money for decorating I worked out I could paint from my wheelchair with a roller on a pole. A wheelchair that stands me up allowed me to sand and paint the wooden window frames. I got out of my wheelchair and dragged myself around the floor to do low things like the skirting boards. I went there every day for six months for as long as I could handle. Once completed, I was able to increase the rent by 50%. As the equity in the properties increased I was able to purchase another property in Hawera and I renovated this one as well.

Within 4 years the Stratford property had tripled in value. I sold it for a $70,000 profit, paid my sister back and started investing in myself attending property investment seminars. This exposed me to the world of personal development.

By 2006 the property boom meant it was hard to find properties locally that the figures would for. So I bought a property in Invercargill, right at the bottom of our South Island. I loaded all my stuff onto a trailer. Three days drive, a ferry crossing and six weeks work later I had another property renovated and was on my way home for Christmas. In 2007 I bought another property in another nearby town called Patea. I have renovated it between tenants over the last few years.

Property investment has been a lot more challenging over the last few years since the Global Financial Crisis. At the moment it is about keeping what I have going. Despite the challenges I have four properties in good condition. I just have to wait for the next property cycle for them to increase in value again. I managed all this from a wheelchair with very little income. Just being brave enough to buy property and invest in myself. I was then asked to speak to community groups about how I overcame the adversity in my life. I am now working on developing a career as an inspirational speaker.

Dreams do come true. Just keep dreaming and find a way around the challenges.

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