mark as a boy with his mom and dad

All Roads Led me Here

All Roads Led Me Here

Asset-based Lending / By Mark Abbruzzese

I get asked about my background quite a bit. People seem to be curious about the path that led me to where I am today, running Next Bridge Funding, an asset-based lending company. First, I want to say this; everyone is different, and there is no right or wrong way to get started. The biggest takeaway for me is always to be open to learning from others and, most importantly, your mistakes. 

I’m originally from Boston. My Dad passed away when I was three, and my Mom and I moved from the city to Cape Cod just after his passing to start a new life away from Boston. I’m an only child; my Mom was a school teacher, super-bright, and a very hard worker. I learned more from her than anyone else in my life, and I’ve been very fortunate to have many great mentors and friends. As a family, we were always broke. My Mom sent me to Catholic school, and money was always an issue. We didn’t go without eating, but we had to budget everything, and there was never extra money. I started working at 11 with a daily paper route, talk about a job that doesn’t exist anymore. I caddied at a local country club and then went to work in restaurants and construction when I was 13. I started washing dishes, bussing tables, and picking up trash at construction sites. At an early age, these jobs taught me two important things.

  1. You had to work hard and save money to get ahead.
  2. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life at a job I didn’t like. 

Hardly A Model Student

I was a horrible student. I graduated 82nd out of 84 kids in my high school. School didn’t come easy for me, I have ADHD and Dyslexia, but at that time, no one diagnosed things like that. I knew I wasn’t stupid, but school was a grind for me. I always excelled at work and enjoyed having money to buy things I wanted. I always felt less than at school. Like I wasn’t good enough, while I got praise, money, and acknowledgment at work.

I had zero plans to go to college. I figured I would open a restaurant or a construction company, live in Falmouth, and be fine. However, as a teacher, my Mom knew education would open or close doors for the rest of my life. In my high school senior year, I went to a college fair, and I talked to someone about the University of Dayton in Ohio. The guy said you should apply. One of my best friend’s older brothers attended, so I figured why not. I don’t know how I got in, they just took a chance on me, but somehow, they let me in temporarily with a few caveats. I had to take two summer classes before my freshman year started. If I got B’s or better, I could attend in the Fall, and if not, I was out. So I went to Ohio for the first time, started these two classes, and that was a life-changing event.

Still, I was not too fond of school, but I realized the other people here weren’t that much more intelligent than I am, and if they could pass these classes, I could too. So I gained a lot of confidence from these years and graduated four years later.

I went to work in sales at a building materials supply company after college for two years. I had a lot of success there but realized it was too small and not what I wanted.

Ford Motor Company

I got a book from the library (this was before the internet) and started mailing resumes to every fortune 500 company. I started at one and went to 500. Finally, Ford Motor company replied to one of the letters and asked me to come interview. So I did; I got the job and started two weeks later moving to Detroit.

This was another big break that would influence the rest of my life. Whenever I spoke to someone, I didn’t have to explain the company I worked for or what they did. I had instant credibility. I learned a lot from my five years at Ford. I still have friends to this day, after leaving over 20 years ago. One introduction that stands out is a man who became a mentor and one of my best friends. Today, he is part of my family. I met many intelligent people who took the time to answer my questions and explain how business worked. So I went back to get my MBA at the University of Detroit. Which was a shock to my mother because no one, I mean no one, thought I would make it thru college. 

I learned two things from Ford that changed my life again.

1. I didn’t want to work at a big company after all.

2. Time was limited, but the ability to make money wasn’t. 

I Did the Math

I remember sitting with a car dealer when I was 25, going thru his financial statement at the time, and he had just made $500,000 for a particular month. As we spoke, I kept thinking, that’s $125K a week, $25K a day, $3000 an hour. Then I ran my income numbers in my head. $5K a month, $1250 a week, $30 an hour. I knew this wasn’t even correct because I worked way more than 40 hours a week, and he didn’t even come close to working 40 hours. I remember sitting in that meeting, thinking there is no chance this guy is 100 times smarter than I am, yet he’s making 100 times what I earn an hour. That’s when I knew Corporate America wasn’t for me.

I finished my MBA and started an Automotive Consulting Business with the plans to buy a car dealership.

It took me a long time to figure out what is important to me. Not to my Mom, Not to my social group, not to society, what’s important to me. Here is what I came up with.

1. I need to love what I do

2. I need to be in control of my destiny

3. I need the ability to make unlimited money

Now I don’t always love what I do every day. I but I realized I like action, I enjoy helping people, and I like adding value. 

I know no matter what, money is always limited. However, I didn’t want someone else to decide what I made or didn’t make. I work hard, I’m smart, and I wanted to be compensated on what I earned, not on what some manager thought my scale should be based solely on my years of service. That is when I decided I wanted to control what I did every day and how much money I made going forward.

Real Estate Happened by Chance

I didn’t end up buying a dealership. Things didn’t work out. But I did end up helping a friend of mine who was getting into the flipping business back in 2005.

I started by evaluating homes for him. I looked at ten houses a day, 6 or 7 days a week. I learned the business from the ground up. I had zero knowledge about real estate, but eventually, I realized I had a real “knack” for it.

In 2008 he, like a lot of investors, went out of business. They were just over-leveraged. I was fortunate that I wasn’t. I had a mentor from my time at Ford that helped me get started investing. He got us a line of credit with a bank, and we began buying rentals and flipping houses. Those were crazy times. There was little to no money available. No one wanted to invest in real estate, and every day, homes kept going down in value. You would buy a house on Monday, thinking you got a great deal, by Wednesday, a property two doors down sold for 15% less than what you just bought that house for on Monday. Banks tightened their lending guidelines, so it was challenging to get someone to qualify for a mortgage and even harder to find a home to appraise.

Those were trying times, but I continued to learn.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. But I’ve tried to learn from them all and not repeat them. I think people get paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. But we all make them. If you don’t, it means you aren’t trying hard enough. 

I’ve probably evaluated 10,000 properties in my career. I’ve owned hundreds of rentals, lent millions of dollars, flipped over 1000 homes, and I still learn new things every day. That’s what I love about this business.

I’ve been in asset-based lending for the last three years. I don’t flip many homes anymore and only have a hand full of rentals. But there is nothing better than getting a call from someone who wants a pay-off on their loan; they tell you how you’ve helped them out of a jam or how much money they made on their flip.

That never gets old.

The road to success isn’t easy. It’s pretty damn hard—plan on making mistakes. Be prepared for the ups and downs that come along with success. A few things I think are critical:

  1. Find out what moves you.
  2. Make a plan to achieve your goals.
  3. Surround yourself with great people, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
  4. Keep revising your plan.
  5. Treat everyone with respect.
  6. Be true to yourself. The most important thing is your reputation, and you earn it every day.

If I can ever be of help, please let me know by clicking here or calling 248-385-3750.