Bob Morgan started his DJ business, BME Event Group, from his house in Vineland, New Jersey in 2003. He went full time in 2007 and moved into a 20 x 22 space with storage in a one-car adjoining garage from his house.
In 2013 he moved to a 3,500 square foot office on the main roadway in town. “It was something that was scary but so much better for the company and our neighbors,” he said. “No more staff picking up and dropping off equipment all times of day and night. It was also better for clients — no more weaving through town to find us.”
He entered a 5 year lease with an option to buy. “I wanted the option to buy since we put $40,000 into the new place to make it what we wanted,” he said.
“I was surprised how many people would say ‘oh yeah! I know where you are.’ It was a visible company at that point, the office made it more legit to people.”
After adding photography and cinematography services as well as musicians, Morgan needed more space. “We were either adding on or moving,” he said. “My current landlord was great, but would never commit to a sale price for the building. He waited until my lease was up and then told me he wanted way more than the building was worth.”
Luckily the building two doors down from him was available — a 9,000 square foot space that had been abandoned for 8 years. “It’s huge, but was in bad shape,” said Morgan. He bought it in March. “It happened with the help of the owner who really wanted to move it, a bank which helped through the whole process, the city with financial help, great subcontractors, and my staff holding things down while construction was ongoing,” said Morgan — “and of course my wife, who if she didn’t help this wouldn’t have been possible.”
The building was a popular restaurant and nightspot so renovating instead of demolition was important to Morgan. “It’s fun when people come in and share their memories of the place,” he said.
“We have a 20-year mortgage but I’d rather have something to leave my family when all is said and done. Way better than giving money to someone else and working for their building.”
Besides having way more storage and an actual showcase room, there will be a dance studio on the right side and a photography studio on the left. “We can also add staff since we have the room now. We are growing but not too fast. We’re continually adding the right pieces to make sure we are here for the long haul.”
“I’m proud and relieved it’s almost complete so I can focus on just business again and not construction.”
“We will be paying more, but I will have rent from the dance studio offsetting some cost and we will be doing more showcases there instead of all the bridal shows. We offer a lot so we can do all the main things for a couple, plus we will have more work in house with the photography studio.”
“The parking lot is huge in back. Still figuring out what to do there for income. Maybe storage for limos or something.”
“We’re trying to keep it as open as possible,” said Morgan. “It leaves us options as we grow.”
Cost of 9,000 square-foot building: $750,000
Property taxes: $10,000 before renovation
Plot: 3.2 acres on a very visible bend on the main drag in town.
Details: Applying for an abatement for a couple years. “The city and New Jersey state want small companies to grow and abandoned buildings filled. They’ve been very helpful.”
“It’s still scary,” said Morgan. “It’s a lot more debt and expenses but it just seems like a natural progression for the company.”>