Recently, at The Top 100 Magazine, we had the pleasure of meeting with Bo Fontana, chief executive officer of The Fontana Organization, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. Bo spoke with us about his journey from the construction industry into the real estate profession, his current business focus, and his aspirations for the future.
What is The Fontana Organization?
The Fontana Organization is a real estate company, but it’s only one of the companies I own. For example, there’s also Fontana Holdings and The Fontana Evolution. The purpose of having multiple companies is so that we can purchase pieces of real estate under different names. This allows us to keep the apartment units and multifamily properties separate but still under the same business umbrella.
Why did you decide to keep them all under the Fontana name?
The most important reason for including the Fontana name is because I want everyone who does business with me to know that I stand behind these companies because they all have my name on them. Then, there’s The Fontana Evolution, which I named after my two sons, Tristan and Easton. The letters TFE in The Fontana Evolution are from the letters in the names Tristan, Fontana, Easton.
What are your primary responsibilities as the CEO of the Fontana companies?
People are always asking my wife what it is that I do, and she always says, “A lot of things!” I definitely agree with her answer, but simply put, I have a bunch of companies, and they all, more or less, revolve around apartment complexes. I use the construction company, the management company, and the acquisition company to acquire apartments.
As far as my daily involvement goes, I call management companies each day to check in with the people who manage all my assets. I think of them as my right hand and the legal staff as my left hand, so I make sure they are all performing properly. After I finish that task, I work on apartment acquisition, or I build my own projects. Right now, I am in the process of building a new house for my own family. I enjoy building and doing things that I don’t get to do when buying apartments.
How much success have you had since you have been in apartment acquisition?
Over the past six years, we have acquired over 5000 units. Our biggest sale to date is $81.5 million for 1,810 units all at once.
When did you get your start in the work force?
Although this may be hard to believe, I started working in multifamily real estate when I was only seven years old. I may have even been younger. My mom was a single parent, and she managed an apartment for over 35 years. Since I was an only child, and there was no one else at home to look after me, she took me to work with her. So, as Mom took me around the complexes she managed for different owners, I met a lot of people and learned a lot about buying, selling, and everything in between.
I also learned about working to earn the things I wanted at an early age. I remember when I was nine years old, I wanted a jacket, and Mom told me that I could have it if I worked for it, so I started taking care of the grounds. By age 12, I was painting and putting apartments together, and by age 13, I was doing maintenance calls. I learned a lot from my mom throughout those years, and I still keep in touch with a lot of those people.
How did you start your own company?
After I graduated from high school, I tried college, but that only lasted about a year. Still, I was always ambitious, so I started my own construction company at age 19. I was doing large jobs at the time, and I learned from the bottom up. I didn’t come from anything and never expected anything. At that time, my current partner asked me why I was still doing construction if I was so smart. So, we went out and did our first deal, a tiny house. Then, we did another, and another, and it blew up from there. I still own the company 20 years later.
How did you expand into all the companies you have now?
At first, I thought I could use my own money, and I would take any extra money from construction and reinvest it into real estate. I was learning I could do it on my own, but it wasn’t enough. I started to branch out and talk to people about buying apartments and rehabbing them. Then, about two years ago, I decided I was tired of doing construction and was ready to start doing real estate only. Since then, I’ve devoted 100% to real estate and now I’m building an empire.
Tell us about your family.
First, there was my mom who was the one who taught me everything that I know and always pushed me to finished what I started. Then, when I was 30 years old, I met my wife, Jessica, and we had our first baby soon afterward. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. She is my rock. Today, we have two boys, Tristan and Easton, and we are currently expecting a baby girl, Gracelynn. They are my reason for going forward.
What do envision for the future?
We are looking forward to the arrival of our new daughter, and we will soon be completing our new home. Of course, we hope to continue growing our real estate empire, and after that, who knows? Maybe I will run for office and try to change the world on my own. I could possibly start out as the next mayor of Fort Worth.
Chief Executive Officer
The Fontana Organization, Inc.
420 Throckmorton Street, Suite 270
Fort Worth, Texas 76102