Real estate developer: ‘This industry is a playground for self-starters’

Mike Chernine is a principal with Brass Cap Companies which specializes in real estate investment, development and management on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

Mike Chernine assembled what he called an “all-star” team in real estate development to form Brass Cap Cos. In the next 24 months, he says, there is a window for industrial development and ground-up retail development on which he and his team aim to capitalize.

What is the best business advice you’ve received?

“The magic is discovered outside of the comfort zone.”

I enjoy hearing people’s life stories. I get inspiration from their sharing their adversity and resilience while stretching themselves to achieve their goals. Collectively, these people’s stories have guided me along the way.

If you could change one thing about Southern Nevada, what would it be?

I wish there was more economic diversity. This is a recurring conversation over the years. We are seeing an influx of new companies transplanting to our valley. I would love to see the continued expansion of technology and research to create employment alternatives to our hospitality core.

What’s the biggest issue facing Southern Nevada?

Education and crime are the first that come to mind. We have national low-testing results and graduating percentages. ... And the proliferation of home invasions and battery seem to be ever-present in our city, while concealed-weapons permits are at an all-time high.

What has been your most exciting professional project?

Being involved with Aetna Springs in Napa Valley was a highlight. Over the years, I have been fortunate to be involved with spectacular pieces of land in Napa, Boise, Tucson, Phoenix and St. George.

You recently teamed up with three other partners for Brass Cap Cos. Why did you think you all made a good fit?

Diversity. We each represent a different tool for the job. Each of us has a different story, and we approach our craft from different angles. When I first brought everyone together, they were familiar with each other but had not worked together; we became cohesive pretty quickly. We are a unique group in that we are the principals and the employees. If you can keep ego out of the process and focus on communication, we can all be efficient and have some fun along the way. I think I just referred to us as “tools.”

You’ve been working in this industry over two decades. To what do you owe your success?

I would attribute this to an affinity for alchemy. This industry is a playground for self-starters and dreamers. I enjoy looking at a blank canvas and picturing what can be created.

What advice do you have for people wanting to break into the real estate industry?

Find a mentor! The industry is challenging enough without a road map. Having a patient, knowledgeable and scrupulous mentor can cut down your ramp-up time for being self-sustainable.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am reading “Cadillac Desert,” by Marc Reisner. It’s a history of water rights in the U.S., focusing on how Southern California acquired its water from the Central Valley.

I recently read personal-growth manuals “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz, and “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho.

What do you do after work?

I attend hot boot camp and hot yoga at 103 degrees. I also enjoy boxing with a professional trainer; sometimes my 11-year-old son joins me. I have hiked a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe (I can tell you a Bigfoot and mountain lion story) and also hiked rim to rim at the Grand Canyon and Mount Whitney base to summit and back, both in a day.

I have three funny, smart little people who I love to spend time with. They are open to new adventures. Kids are amazing, and you get to relive/rewrite your childhood in a vicarious sort of way.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I have specific financial goals for myself over the next 10 years based on my desire for freedom. I am focused on establishing recurring income to provide myself and my family the resources to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I prefer to do things rather than have things.

Our development schedule is set up to provide the fruits of hard labor over the next few years. We have the opportunity to ramp up our operations quickly and take on multiple development projects. We would like to focus on exclusive developer relationships with national and regional companies.

What is your dream job outside of your current field?

Besides the standard rock star/MLB baseball player daydreams, I would like to be a speaker and writer. I see it as an opportunity to make a difference in people’s quality of life. There are few things that make me feel more purposeful than making a positive ripple. That, to me, is the biggest calling in one’s life.

Whom do you admire and why?

I admire Blake Sartini of Golden Gaming. He’s a man’s man who knows how to enjoy life. A maven of many disciplines, he can go on a hunting trek in search of a state record, put together a mean wardrobe and plan the food and wine for a private dinner. He is an aggressive businessman and a dedicated family man. Pretty good joke teller to top it off.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

People in power who mistreat other people. I recall being in the service industry when I was younger and watched well-healed patrons completely break down the servers. I used some of that to fuel my ambition. I also am irked by people with poor manners and a lack of respect for elders.

What is something that people might not know about you?

I used to own a juvenile Tyrannosaurus bataar (grandfather of the T-Rex). I had the skull showcased in my home saloon. I ended up selling it in 2009 to an oil-sands tycoon from Canada. It was around 60 million years old and was a juvenile when it perished. It stands 8 feet tall and is around 16 feet long. My kids would tell their teachers that we had a real dinosaur at the house. I can imagine the teacher rolling her eyes.