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Entrepreneur Profile , Trenton Riley

What began as a hobby developed into a booming career for Trenton Riley, broker and president of San Diego City Homes Inc.

A native of Austin, Texas, Riley began investing in real estate on the side while working in technology sales in the Bay Area. Moving to San Diego combined with a shift of focus inspired the 2001 founding of San Diego City Homes.

With 2006 revenue upward of $1 million, the company continues to grow and is optimistic about expansion.

Currently San Diego City Homes is handling the sales and marketing of a 124-unit project in Orange County.

Riley attributes much of his success to a flexible, positive attitude, and positive business ethics that he said local developer Willy Ayyad, with United Development Group, has demonstrated admirably.


VITALS

Name: Trenton Riley.

Titles: President, broker.

Company: San Diego City Homes Inc.

Company address: 3180 University Ave., San Diego.

Company phone: (619) 491-9400.

Year founded: 2001.

Prior business experience: High-tech sales to Fortune 500 clients.

Average hours worked weekly: Fifty-plus.

Source of startup capital: Real estate investments.

2006 revenue: $1.1 million on $49 million in property sales.

2005 revenue: $950,000 on $45 million in property sales.

Number of employees: Ten.


BACKGROUND

Birthplace: Dallas, Texas.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science, University of Texas, Austin.

Age: 38.

Current residence: North Park.

Hobbies: Hiking, traveling, real estate investment.


JUDGMENT CALLS

Reason for getting into business: To be my own boss.

How I plan to grow the business: Referrals from happy clients!

Biggest plus of business ownership: Your business success feels like a personal success.

Biggest drawback: Always on 24/7.

Biggest business strength: Flexibility, ability to tailor our services to fit our clients’ needs.

Biggest business weakness: Size of company when competing with corporate behemoths (our size is also a strength , it allows agility).

Biggest risk: Expanding into providing services for clients in Orange County , it has paid off.

Smartest business decision: Hiring professional a marketing company to help build our brand. Also, purchasing our property management division from Vistal Realty in 2006.

Biggest business mistake: Taking on too much business in 2005 and having to let some clients go.

Toughest career decision: Whether or not to sell the company when I had the chance.

Biggest ongoing challenge: Managing cash flow in a slow real estate market.

The most important part of my business: My co-workers. They are amazing!

My business works best when: Everyone in my company shares the same goals and we are working as a team.

Best way to stay competitive: Be open to change in all areas.

How I measure success: If my co-workers are happy with their work and my clients are pleased with the results we provide, it’s a good day.


GOALS

Goal yet to be achieved: Reaching $100 million in sales in one calendar year.

My five-year business plan: Grow by 10 percent to 15 percent a year by referrals from current clients, and offer new services to our current client base (e.g., provide management services to our developer and investor clients).

I will sell my business only if: It provided me with the capital to grow the business exponentially into other markets.

Guiding principles I will continue to follow: Our people come first, we respect each other, our clients and industry professionals. We make choices of integrity, we create clients for life, work with people we like, exceed clients’ expectations, and we have fun.

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