Origin Bank’s Women Leaders of Today: Susan Gruppi & Jessica Worman of M2G Ventures
Susan Gruppi and Jessica Worman are the Co-Presidents of M2G Ventures LLC (“M2G”), a company based in Fort Worth, TX that specializes in adaptive reuse and historic conversions. This dynamic duo, originally from Longview, TX, are the youngest of 5 kids with 3 older brothers. They are a self-described “family of chiefs” who maintain close familial ties. In fact, when asked what other businesswomen they admire, both said, “my sister” with Jessica adding a nod to, “my mother, who accomplished the ultimate balance.”
From a very young age, Jessica and Susan were exposed to the world of real estate and business through their parent’s owning a commercial real estate company. “…every decision was made around the kitchen table,” states Jessica. This, coupled with going along with their parents to look at properties and calling on signs, made studying business at TCU and founding M2G a no brainer. “We made that decision when we first started walking, basically, so I don’t know that it was conscious, but it was always understood,” recalls Susan. Jessica adds, “Susan and I always knew that our definition of success was to have our own company together.”
M2G was started in October 2014 by Susan, and Jessica joined three months later. The two balance each other nicely with Jessica calling out Susan’s “discipline” as her greatest strength and Susan stating Jessica’s greatest strength is “strategy.” “We make the perfect team,” says Jessica. When looking at growing the team, Jessica states that they look for “people who are not afraid to work hard in an intense environment […]. You may not always be the smartest person in the room, but you can work the hardest and that does get you pretty far. We also look for team players, people who go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the ship stays on course. Lastly, we focus on the ‘Soldier On’ mentality, meaning don’t get caught up in the small stuff and let it bring you down; keep going with your head held high.”
Both sisters are vested in ensuring M2G is a success, as demonstrated by the $60M in closed value-add projects. Jessica’s favorite quote, “Success is the combination of hard work and luck” is evident in the success of the company. However, their passion and definition of success also heavily revolve around their daughters; each have one. “I want to be able to provide for my family on the generational level. I want my children to be able to do whatever they want and be a success in how they define it,” says Susan. “Having a new little life has its way of reminding you of mortality. I want everyone to be able to look at me at my funeral and say, ‘man, she really went for it.’ If I can embody that in all areas of my life – friends, family, travel, business. I will be a success.” Jessica finds her, “2 and half year old [daughter, Vivian] is by far the best thing about my life.” Additionally, she loves to travel and finds she gets “a lot of my inspiration for our real estate projects when I am traveling around the world.”
One of M2G recent projects was the rehabilitation and repurposing of the OB Macaroni factory located on the Southwest corner of the I-35W and I-30 exchange. The building, originally built around 1860 as a stagecoach hotel, is one of the oldest building in Fort Worth and until 2015, housed the oldest privately held pasta factory in the US. Jessica says, “Like many of our projects, we had driven by it and knew it had so much potential and so much of a story to tell. When it initially came up for sale, we made a run at it, but the price was too much for the work that we knew we were going to have to put in, so we had to drop the contract and we were disappointed. Several months later, the owner came back to us and accepted our terms.” The sisters’ realized that the building was practically useless as a true industrial building, but with some creative reimagination they transformed it into a successful multiple tenant building capitalizing on its unique configuration and interesting architectural features. The first floor of this building is now home to Melt Ice Creams HQ, Craftwork Roasting Company, W Durable Goods, and Texas Malt, with one more space available on the ground floor and a plan to renovate the second and third floors into creative office space during Phase II.
The future of M2G isn’t written yet, and while the future can sometimes be fraught with fear, with these two at the helm, guided by Susan’s favorite quote, “Fear is a liar,” I think it’s safe to assume it’s onward and upward from here. Jessica dreams that 5 years from now, M2G “will be a better version of itself. It has turned into its own thing now, but what it does best is navigate parties through this period of disruption real estate is going through now. Susan and I have plans to continue breaking down barriers in other parts of real estate we see immense opportunities in, not only financially, but from the end user’s perspective. We will be in other cities and our team will likely be larger. We plan to stay below 15 full time employees at all times, so we can stay nimble and maintain the entrepreneurial spirit that makes us so great.”
Listen to our interview with Susan and Jessica: Super Human Sisters Are Overcoming Stereotypes in Real Estate