Rich O’Neill | Overcoming Adversities, Working in a Family Business, and Building a Real Estate Company
Smart Business Revolution

Rich O’Neill is the Founder of Fleming Project Management, a real estate firm based in Philadelphia that serves the surrounding counties. He helps investors create wealth by managing their investment projects so they can focus on the most crucial activities in their business. Rich is also the Owner of Fleming Properties where he buys, renovates, and rents single-family and small multi-family properties.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran is joined by Rich O’Neill, the Founder of Fleming Project Management, to talk about the lessons Rich learned from his father and his father-in-law. Rich also explains how he overcame various adversities, his gateway into the real estate industry, and how the 2008 economic crisis affected his father’s business.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Rich O’Neill talks about his family and how his father started a home building company
  • Lessons learned from his father and father-in-law’s businesses
  • How Rich was dropped from his high school lacrosse team
  • Rich’s experience transitioning to the real estate industry
  • How the collapse of his father’s business impacted his life
  • What Rich learned from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
  • The peers Rich acknowledges for their support

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. And for those of you who are new and haven’t heard this podcast before, we’ve got about 12 years of great interviews with founders and with CEOs and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies. You can check out my past episodes with the CEO of Quicken, founder of Netflix, Kinkos’, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, and many more. And I personally am also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And my guest here today, his name is Rich O’Neill. He runs a company in the construction, not in the construction space in the property management space grew up in the construction space and had a number of mentors that he learned from and kind of learned about entrepreneurship from that, including his father-in-law, who he knew at a very young age, we’ll get into what that means because it sounds a little weird. And looking forward to that. And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses get clients, referrals and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. And you can go to our website at to learn all about what we do. All right, Rich, great to have you here. And I kind of joked about it, but you knew your father in law from the age of about three years old? Not because you got married at a really young age, but you knew your now wife from a very young age. Why don’t we clear up that whole mess? Because I kind of botched the show? Sure. No, you met your wife at a young age.

Rich O’Neill 2:15

Yeah, so my wife was my best, or my sister’s best friend growing up. So, you know, started out is a very different relationship than what we have now. But it’s still great both ways. And yeah, you know, her family has been really a close part of our family for a very long time, too. 

John Corcoran 2:36

We could dive into the whole personal side in some other episode. That’s for a different podcast. Yeah. On the business side. So from age three. So Barrett is your father-in-law? He started in the business of the service side of lawn care, correct?

Rich O’Neill 2:54

Correct. Yeah, making one screen and getting rid of weeds.

John Corcoran 2:58

He moved into the product side and developed a number of different products around keeping lawns green. Yep. Yep. Yeah. And what are your memories from working or from, you know, as a kid, because he actually had a big impact on your father, actually, in your words, shamed your father, to go from working for big developers wish he didn’t enjoy to starting his own business? residential home building company?

Rich O’Neill 3:25

Yeah. So that’s, I say it that way. Because it’s a little bit more dramatic, it, it probably wasn’t that bad. But, you know, we were so close. For so long. My parents, both my dad and Barrett, my dad, Steve and Barrett, my mother and Latina, and my mom, Michelle. They were all really close friends growing up. And Barrett kind of grew up in entrepreneurship. Right. He, started his first business when I think he was 16 or so. So that was kind of all he ever knew. And my dad was kind of the opposite of that, where, you know, my grandfather worked more or less for the same company, all of his life and only more recently got another job somewhere else. And so he was very much in that, you know, work for someone get the paycheck all of that for a very long time, which there’s nothing wrong with but Barrett was able to expose him to maybe a different way of thinking, which was, you really don’t like what you’re doing. Right? You like some aspects you’d like the industry, and you like some things, but working for someone else doesn’t seem to be working for you. So why couldn’t you go do that yourself and make more money, be, have more freedom to spend time with your family, all of these things that can not always but often do come along with being an entrepreneur? So after years of that conversation, my dad finally took the bait and started a homebuilding company where they would build small to medium subdivisions, your more or less the polti model, just a smaller company where they would Yeah, yeah. So they would, they would buy lots from developers, and they would build one of four models that have a couple of options, but they just crank them out. So, you know, when I was about eight is when he started that company. And that really made a big impact on me, because I kind of got to see it a little bit of both ways, right? My dad still had a lot of those tendencies of like, I need to be really conservative, I need to do these things. And my father-in-law, Barrett is an absolute nutcase and in the best possible way, right, like he, he takes risks, and he does a lot of things that a lot of people wouldn’t do, because they’d be too afraid. So I got to see both sides of that from a really young age. And that had a big impact on me, I use the analogy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, right? My dad was in no way poor. But, you know, if you ever go read that book from Robert Kiyosaki, the dichotomy of both of those perspectives, really had a big impact on

John Corcoran 6:09

  1. Yeah, as like your own personal experience with that is that that book really is about kind of mindsets, and how you approach life, right? diversify risk, and that sort of thing. Your father, do you recall from that age when you were eight, 9-10 years old? Do you recall him working late, long hours? Do you was it you know, many businesses when they’re getting started? You know, it kind of is a struggle before they gain traction? What was that? Like?

Rich O’Neill 6:39

Yeah, absolutely. So that’s one of the biggest things I’ve ever learned from my dad to work hard. He worked, he worked, and still works really hard. So sometimes that meant long hours. Sometimes that meant, you know, getting in and doing things you didn’t want to do at all of that. And yeah, so that did sometimes mean later nights, you know, wasn’t able to make a soccer, lacrosse game, whatever. But what, and that was really in the early stages, and I don’t, I don’t remember that quite as much. But after a couple of years, and you know, being around people like Barrett and people in that run their own businesses, he learned a lot and was able to bring in the right people to get things done without him there all the time. And, you know, when I was 1012 13, really formative years, he was home every summer, he was home, and we had a boat on the Chesapeake Bay. And sometimes one of the bigger things that stuck out for me was that it wasn’t terribly difficult for him to leave Thursday night and go home Tuesday morning. Or, you know, maybe we take a long week or something. And he had that ability sometimes,, which was really cool. And I didn’t like being exposed to that, which a lot of people aren’t being exposed to I was like, why would I ever want to be locked into this 40-hour week where I have to be at work? Nine to five every day, or to five, or whatever it is? So to answer the question, yes. There were late nights, there were a lot of their late nights, and early mornings. Sometimes there were stuff on the weekends and stuff came up, whatever. But there was also the flip side of that which was really awesome, too.

John Corcoran 8:29

Yeah. You saw both sides of it. Really? Yeah. And then what point do you recall becoming conscious of, you know, kind of Berets? His approach to entrepreneurship? We know, do you recall him? Like, you know, taking you aside at age eight, 910 11. And it kind of teaching lessons, or did you observe him also, you know, being able to have the flexibility to take time off? And I know, we’ll get into it, you later went to go work for Barrett, but at a younger age, you will call those

Rich O’Neill 9:01

things. Not a lot. Just being around him. And understanding what his business did some of the things that he was doing. I was that annoying kid that wanted to ask a lot of questions. So it wasn’t so much of a hey, let me come teach you something. It was a lot of me. How does this work? Or what do you do here? And he was always way more than willing to share as soon as I opened the door. It was a floodgate. So yeah, that was that definitely happened maybe a little bit different than you described, but he was definitely around and had that impact early.

John Corcoran 9:38

Yeah. Now you had kind of a pivotal experience in your life. So you were a lacrosse player. And we’re headed to go play lacrosse in college you recruited to play Penn State’s All you ever wanted. You’re ready to do it. And it didn’t work out at the last minute. Tell us the story.