The Memphis News - Digital Edition

10032014-Vol7-No41-UF

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24 October 3-9, 2014 w w w.thememphisnews.com A d v E R t i S i n g & P R A nniversaries are a time of reflecting on past successes, and the Memphis-based advertising, marketing, design and PR firm inferno is at just such a moment. Except the 15-year anniversary it's now celebrating is as much about where it's going as where it's been. In tandem with the celebration of its tenure in Memphis, the agency is also celebrating its employees – specifically, their collective service to the community and to area nonprofits. Through its Fuelanthropic program, which en- courages employees to use up to a week of paid time off for community service and civic time, inferno and its staff have contributed more than 10,000 hours since its founding in 1999. All that time has been directed toward local charitable, civic and nonprofit groups, in addi- tion to the city at large. And inferno estimates that time and service has been worth more than $1 million the agency gave away as part of its cause. The agency hosted an event celebrating its Fuelanthropic initiative Sept. 25, calling it "A Million for the Mid-South." Inferno partners and civic leaders joined the firm Downtown at the Robinson Gallery to toast what's become a deeply embedded part of the inferno culture. "We have our clients to thank for equipping us with the resources to make this work," said inferno partner Tim Sellers. "It's a unique and powerful way to celebrate the successful rela- tionships we have with our clients." Fellow inferno partner Dan O'Brien stressed that Fuelanthropic is not a one-time event or something the agency marks on a calendar. It's part of what the agency is, he said. Leading up to the celebration, inferno held two half-days of service that included a July 25 event at Hope House. Inferno employees gath- ered there to help clean the facility, entertain the children and perform some lawn mainte- nance and gardening. And on Aug. 22, inferno employees helped the Humane Society of Mem- phis and Shelby County set up for its Paw Prints Party at Woodland Hills. Organizations that have benefited from inferno's Fuelanthropic work over the years in- clude Hope House, The Exchange Club Family Center, BRIDGES, Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes, Shelby Farms Park and others. Incorporating such efforts into its core is not unique to inferno. Many of its peer firms in Memphis, in an effort to cultivate a strong com- pany culture and a shared sense of purpose and direction, enlist their employees in deciding on some kind of mission that's bigger than the firm and often involves community service. At Sullivan Branding, for example, CEO Bri- an Sullivan said his firm has a culture-focused committee where participants are in charge of things such as planning what the firm will get involved with, from a nonprofit perspective. At inferno, the firm has been pointing to its Fuelanthropic initiative as a way of saying its work for nonprofits and other clients has helped the firm be successful over the past 15 years. And the investment by its employees into the community has given the firm something meaningful beyond itself to pursue, as well. Inferno serves clients in sectors like health care, logistics, retail, banking and entertain- ment, to name a few. Inferno Celebrates 15 Years, Charitable Milestone Andy Meek ameek@memphisdailynews.com R E A L E S tAt E & d E v E L o P m E n t T his week, Lafayette's Music Room reopened in its old loca- tion at Overton Square, bring- ing live music back to the rejuvenated district. The famed club, which hosted a wide range of local and nation acts in its original incarnation, was named after the late Lafayette Draper, a Memphis bartender who earned a reputation as one of the best in the business. Draper died in September at the age of 77. Lafayette's grandson, Lance Draper, is trying to build a similar reputation in the real estate business. At the young age of 24, Draper has already acquired six rental homes and a 16-unit apartment complex near the Uptown neighborhood. A self-described penny pincher, Lance Draper hoarded his money and after the housing market crashed was in position to acquire his first prop- erty at a tax sale. "I wasn't into the clothes or shoes or going out, and I saved every single penny," Draper said. "I ended up getting the house for the taxes that were owed on it, and when I got that first month's rent I knew that's what I wanted to do." Now bitten by the real estate bug, Draper kept scouring the web and other publications for foreclosures or tax sales in good locations, building his real estate empire step by step. "I worked and saved and kept working my way up," he said. "I was getting them for less than what they were listed for because there was nobody else wanting them and there were so many to choose from." After Draper snapped up five more homes, large out-of-state investors – including hedge funds and real estate investment trusts – poured into the Memphis market, driving up prices for foreclosed or tax sale properties. "About a year ago there was a big boom with out-of-state investors buying in Memphis, and it drove that market up to where it didn't make sense to do that anymore," Draper said. "I started to look for an apart- ment complex." He found what he was looking for at 267 Greenlaw Ave., a 16-unit complex near Uptown and the Pinch District that had gone into fore- closure. Seeing that the apartment complex had recently been remodeled and betting on the continued growth of Downtown and the transformation of the nearby Pyramid into a Bass Pro Shops attraction, Draper pounced, acquiring the property for $330,000. "Just like the first house I got, it was a blessing," he said. "When you see something and want it, you better hurry up and get it." Wiliam Tayloe, president of Fi- nancial Federal, said working with the young entrepreneur on the apartment purchase was a revelation. "Lance has deep Memphis roots, an impressive entrepreneurial vision, and a clear commitment to building and managing a strong portfolio of local properties," said Tayloe. "He's been terrific to work with, and we are all eager to continue our relationship on his future projects." Draper exudes the confidence of a much older real estate investor and said he wasn't intimidated by enter- ing the multifamily market or working with a bank to arrange financing. "I knew I had done enough and achieved enough and my credit is extremely high so I wasn't nervous at all," he said. Draper also said he isn't worried about investors remaining interested in the home rental market or turning their attention toward the multifamily sector because he believes being a lo- cal gives him a distinct advantage. "By me living here, I'm able to go out and look at the properties my- self and decide on the spot whether they're worth buying, whereas they have to send someone out," he said. "It's easier to figure things out and get things done because I live here, and it's better for the tenants because I can do things a lot faster than they can." BUILDING A REPUTATION Amos Maki amos@memphisdailynews.com Young real estate investor making his mark Lance Draper, grandson of Lafayette Draper, at a multifamily property he owns in Uptown. (Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)

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