WESTBROOK — At 26, Tyler Hall has made decisions that have successfully catapulted him into the world of real estate development. But he also decided seven years ago to drive recklessly after a college party – a decision that cost the life of a friend and landed Hall in prison on a 16-month sentence.

Today, he shares that experience with other young people and uses it to frame his life. He started a motivational speaking practice so that others, particularly high school-age students, can learn from his story.

“Life isn’t going to go exactly where you want it to go,” Hall said he tells those he speaks to. “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happened. It’s your response to what happens.”

Hall said he was a designated driver for three fellow students at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish in April 2012. Hall and the driver of another car were speeding and “leapfrogging” past each other along Route 114 in Standish when Hall lost control of the car, he said.

The car went off the road and flipped several times, killing 20-year-old Clark Noonan of Bangor. Hall and the other two passengers in his car had minor injuries.

Hall said he pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon to spare Noonan’s family a trial and didn’t contest their desire to see him jailed. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

“I just said listen, if me going to jail is going to make that family feel better, anything they want me to do, I will do. I wanted to do what was best for them,” he said.

Ed Noonan, Clark Noonan’s father, said the Bangor family bears no lasting animosity toward Hall.

“The fact that Tyler has been able to put his life together and make something of himself speaks highly of him,” Noonan said.

Noonan said the family felt it was appropriate for Hall to serve time in jail, although they were aware that nothing could erase his family’s loss.

“His doing jail time does not bring my son back and it does not necessarily right the wrong,” Noonan said. “There’s no restoration that happens because Tyler goes to jail … but we were satisfied” with the resolution.

BUILDING A CAREER

Once in prison, Hall said, he worked to make sure he could graduate with his classmates at Saint Joseph’s. He was released after eight months to an unusual “home confinement” on campus and doubled up on his classes to catch up.

After graduating, Hall said he was offered one job – as an insurance claims adjuster – that he couldn’t take because his driver’s license had been suspended for three years.

“It definitely put me in a position where my back was against the wall. I was at the lowest point anybody could ever be,” he said. “I told myself, no one’s going to help you, but I never sat there and felt sorry for myself. I needed to create things for myself.”

Hall had been raised in a working-class family in Gardiner – his mother is a security guard and his father drives a forklift in a factory – where money was in short supply.

But Hall had some cash from a moving company, College Movers, he had founded early on at St. Joe’s, so he decided to set out on his own to build a career. And he thought that the cash he had made gave him an opportunity to do that.

“The way I grew up, I was inclined to hoard my money,” Hall said, but he wanted his cash to do more than sit in an account for a long-off retirement. “It’s one thing to have money, but what’s the true use of it?”

Hall researched the backgrounds of the richest people in the world and saw a common denominator for most – real estate.

“I knew that all the richest people in the world, that’s what they were doing,” he said, and decided to follow that path. He contacted several prominent developers in Portland – Hall declined to name them – to see if they could mentor him in the field, but all said they were too busy.

So Hall plunged in on his own, bought three apartment buildings in Westbrook, fixed them up, raised the rent and leased them out. He also owns a four-unit building in Augusta, all bought in the first half of 2017.

Recently he branched out into commercial real estate property. One day in early January, he sat in the parking lot of a former credit union building in Westbrook, pondering whether to buy it.

Just then, the broker who was marketing the building pulled into the same parking lot to show the structure to another potential buyer. That gave Hall the push he needed to make a decision.

“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Hall said. He put in an offer that night and got the building – on the market for $449,000 – for $405,000 because he said he could close quickly. Two weeks later, he was the owner and now he is planning to open a “real estate marketplace” in the building to showcase some of his other real estate holdings and provide office space for lenders, insurers and others that home buyers would need to contact.

Hall credits his quick success – he now owns 14 apartment units in addition to the Westbrook commercial building – to hard work and a willingness to spend money that runs counter to a modest upbringing in which money was tight.

Westbrook is an up-and-coming city, Hall believes, and he wants to make investments now to be able to capitalize on its growth. Hall said he even got a real estate broker’s license in part to handle his own transactions without having to pay commissions.

He also carries with him the lessons learned from his college tragedy. To that end, he mentors others.

One is Andrew Maley, 19, who is working with Hall on real estate ventures, including a company that buys homes that are in foreclosure, pays off the bank and then makes repairs and resells the property. The process is known as a “short sale,” with the bank that holds the mortgage agreeing to take less than what is owed in order to resolve the debt.

Maley, of Windham, said he first learned of Hall through Tai Lopez, who runs an online site that encourages entrepreneurship. Hall went to California and was interviewed by Lopez about his business for a video that was posted on Lopez’s site.

Maley said he and Hall have been working together for four months on a handful of transactions.

“He’s teaching me as we go along,” Maley said. Hall helps Maley develop the deals and backs the transactions financially, Maley said.

He said he decided to go into business out of high school rather than go to college, opting to learn on the job.

Hall “is like a big brother to me and now he’s my business partner,” Maley said. “He’s like my best friend and a brother.”

NEXT STEPS

Tom Rainey, executive director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, said Hall is to be commended for navigating the tricky phase of moving from an idea to an actual business.

Many entrepreneurs, he said, “have a lot more passion than they have business sense.”

Now, he said, Hall will have to move from running a startup to an ongoing enterprise, which involves things like budgeting, long-term projections, addressing capital needs and setting realistic expectations.

“Those are the kinds of skills you need to take a company to the next level,” Rainey said.

Hall is currently marketing his first venture in commercial real estate, the credit union building, on Cumberland Street next to the Sappi Paper Mill. He researched the area and found that the city and state are planning traffic improvements that will make it more walkable, raising the value of the site and making it attractive to potential tenants.


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