Thrasher’s family moved from Birmingham, Ala., to east Cobb when he was 7 years old. After high school, he moved around to several colleges while doing missionary work in China and the Philippines.
“I spent some time smuggling Bibles into China,” he said. “I kind of went out and saw the world.”
His last collegiate stop was Columbia International University, a Bible college in Columbia, S.C.
“I wanted a Biblical world-view that I could then apply to business,” said Thrasher.
In 1999, a plane crash took the life of a close family friend and owner of Leader Enterprises, an Orlando-based sports management agency, as well as professional golfer Payne Stewart, among four others. Thrasher’s life took a drastic turn when he was asked to leave college and work for the company as it rebuilt from the tragedy. Shortly after, Thrasher’s father purchased the company and moved it to Atlanta.
Thrasher stayed with the company three years, managing the endorsements division. During this period, he developed a friendship with well-known Atlanta developer Tom Cousins, whom he now calls his mentor.
“He is the one that stoked the passion of real estate in me,” he said.
In 2004, Thrasher came across a valuable piece of property in east Cobb and took Presley Property Development Company to see the site. He was hired on the spot to do land acquisitions for the company that was developing 300 residential lots a year in metro Atlanta at the time.
In October of 2008, when the real estate market collapsed, the company shut its doors.
“We had just had our first child (Brooks Chadwick), and we had three months’ worth of severance and no prospects,” Thrasher said.
“I had the idea that it would be great to put together a fund to go out and buy some of these distressed properties — but how I was going to get there, I didn’t really know,” he recalls.
In December, with money running out, he found a subdivision property in east Cobb. Along with former Presley partner Dave Clapper, the two convinced a bank to give them 70 percent of the loan needed to purchase the property.
Raising the remaining 30 percent from friends, on Dec. 31, 2008, they closed the deal. Thrasher made $70,000 at closing, and Brooks Chadwick was founded.
“It was not the best of times. … When your back is against the wall, you have no choices.”
The risk paid off — they quickly sold the subdivision to Lennar, the third largest builder in the country, which was starting an Atlanta division.
“That deal turned out to be very successful.”
In February 2009, Steve Edison Builders joined the company. In 2010, they started developing and building homes in east Cobb.
“We were the first to start developing in the horrific environment we were in,” he said. “We were able to flip the deals so quickly, our reputation spread to investors,” he said.
Today the company uses mostly high-wealth investors and almost no institutional financing.
“We’ve grown substantially every year,” he said. Recently, Roy Jones, a fourth partner joined as general counsel.
Since 2008, the company has purchased 25 properties and owns five properties. It had revenues of $30 million last year. The company has branched into Alpharetta, Dunwoody and is looking at acquisitions in Johns Creek, Roswell, Forsyth and Buckhead.
Lennar Homes has remained a client since the first subdivision.
Todd Jones, Lennar’s division president, considers himself fortunate to have forged the relationship with Thrasher.
“Todd’s ingenuity and integrity in the industry, combined with his knowledge and vast network of contacts, allows them to create value on projects that most people may shy away from,” said Jones.
Barry M. Major, president of Atlanta-based Major & Arroll commercial real estate company, calls Thrasher “trustworthy.”
“He and his partners are extremely smart,” he said. “They figured out how to buy and develop property in middle of a horrible recession while many others were forced to be on the sidelines.”
As for what is next in the roller-coaster ride called real estate, Thrasher says it is a seller’s market.
“We still don’t have a lot of job creation,” he said. “But for the next year or two we will continue to see growth.”