Diverge Part 1.1: The Physical Therapist who Launched a Real Estate Cooperative

Welcome to the first installment of our brand new “Diverge” series, where we share the stories of four Rochester entrepreneurs who left long careers to pursue their passions.

 The first part of this series tells the journey of Kim Gordon of HGR Real Estate Investment Cooperative and Management.

This series was made possible by Rochester Home Infusionthe only in-home infusion provider in Southern Minnesota.

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 “I worked in physical therapy for sixteen years,” explained local entrepreneur Kim Gordon. “It hit that point where I had reached that max and I wasn’t sure what was next. And I didn’t really feel like there was a good next path for me.”

About one year ago, Gordon sat down with a friend who was at the same point in life. The two women both enjoyed their careers, but at times it wasn’t quite enough.

“I just didn’t want to be at my job for the next twenty-five years,” she explained.

The friend suggested they purchase a rental property; together they vetted the idea and thought it might be interesting to, in a sense, crowdfund the property through the community.

In May of this year Gordon, RE/MAX Results Broker Associate Beth Nordaune, and Mayo Clinic Clinical Pharmacy Specialist Erin Nystrom launched HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management.

“HGR stands for ‘Home Girl Rochester,’” Gordon explained. “We’re three women that have decided to branch into the real estate investment world.”

HGR together people in the community who are interested in getting into investment real estate, but just don’t have either the time or the money to do it on their own. The company offers these people a boutique service. HGR can connect them with other partners for the real estate, address questions about financing, locate property, and even manage the rental.

“They can be as hands on or hands off as they want to be through the whole process,” Gordon explained.

The HGR team launched the business without all the pieces being completely in place, Gordon explained.  “But sometimes you just have to sell it before you have it,” she said.

The women had been planning and talking about the concept for so long, Gordon said it was just time to go out and do it.

In March, Gordon completed ninety hours of continuing education to obtain her real estate license while still working full time, which she says was “a little bit crazy.” But the drive was there. This was something that she helped to create and wanted to see come to life.

After becoming licensed, Gordon joined Nordaune’s RE/MAX team to learn from experienced relators.

“By joining the team, working under them, shadowing, watching, having them watch me, practice, role play, all that kind of stuff. It’s been awesome because each one of the people on the team brings a different way of doing this,” she explained.

Gordon said that real estate requires a whole different skill set compared with physical therapy. She’s learning how to find properties, locate buyers, and connect with potential investors. She said it’s all about stepping outside of her comfort zone and just figuring it out little by little.

However, one especially frightening part to making this career shift was money. Gordon knew that she might not get paid for a good bit of time, but she has two kids and a mortgage. Her family had already experienced a year without pay when her husband, Kirk, switched careers to manage Potbelly; the Gordons co-own the sandwich shop with Nystrom and her husband, along with another couple.

Gordon said this time they planned a little better. “But it’s still scary. You still have those scary moments,” she confessed.

She does miss some coworkers and patients from her physical therapy career, but doesn’t miss the job itself.

“I did that job. I did it for sixteen years. I did a great job at it. I feel like I can kind of move on from there,” she explained.

Gordon said she still has doubts that she made the right career shift. She wonders how long the real estate market will be profitable, if she’ll be able to keep finding investors, and if this will be a long-term deal.

“I think we have a good concept. But yeah, there’s doubt all the time,” she explained. “I think too, when you doubt it, then you keep challenging yourself, how can I do it better? How can I make sure that what I’m creating will last?”

For others considering a career shift, Gordon suggested a mantra: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go!

She said for people thinking they might not want to continue in their current positions but are afraid to make a change, sit down and really think about it, plan it, and talk with someone about it. But then it’s time to just go.

“The worst thing that can happen is that you fail. Lots of businesses have failed before. Lots of them will fail again,” she said. “When I’m sixty-five, seventy-five talking to my grandchildren, I would rather tell them I took a huge chance and failed then, oh I wish I had taken that chance and I didn’t do it.”