No one can accuse general contractor Shazman Ali of being lazy. Even his business card suggests there are few tasks he’d be unwilling to tackle.
The card, which the 26-year-old Ali will deliver to any smartphone, contains a long but neatly formatted list of services he offers through his company, 24/7 Construction.
Billing himself as licensed and insured, the industrious Ali will perform asbestos testing and abatement, provide drone photography and import construction products – among other diverse endeavors.
Slipped into the middle of this list is “Real estate agent.” However, this entry serves more as a credential than it does an advertisement. Instead of listing and selling homes and commercial properties for clients, Ali acts as his own agent for his own projects.
That alone has made him a multimillion-dollar producer, says Amy Mullins, his broker at United Real Estate Experts.
Here, the Dalton native and Chattanooga resident talks about the roots of his personal industry and how he applies his ambition during the rare moments when he’s not working.
Your business card is a long read. What’s the one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning more than the others?
“Land. It’s cool to play with and it’s a long-term game. I enjoy seeing what’s out there and I love commercial properties. You can rent them and they’re good for your taxes. I also like the ability to bring new ideas to a property. It’s not just about the money; it’s also about the fun.”
Who or what inspired you to pursue so many different ventures?
“My dad, Amin Ali. He was born in Pakistan. When he was 2 months old, his father died in an accident, so he’s worked and hustled his entire life.
“His mentality has always been, ‘Go, go, go,’ but every few years, he has to do something different. He’s owned a jewelry store, a gas station, hotels, motels and apartments.
“He’s also the kind of person who needs to be involved in the day-to-day operations of his business. He doesn’t want to trust it to someone else because he believes he can manage it better.”
You’re also involved in many different endeavors. In what ways are you different from your dad?
“He’s aggressive in business and doesn’t mind taking risks. I’m more conservative. I like to test the waters. But I do look up to him. When I can’t do something, I go to him and he figures it out in two seconds.”
But you do credit your father with mentoring you in your many ventures.
“My dad is the true jack-of-all-trades. When I went under his wing after I graduated from college, he said, ‘You don’t understand everything now, but give me two or three years and you will.’
”That was too much time for me. I wanted to establish myself faster so I pushed away and tried to do my own thing. But I ended up listening to him and earned my contractor’s license in Georgia and Tennessee in 2018.”
You also become a licensed Realtor in 2018.
“It was a busy year for me. I added real estate because it gave me access to MLS and helped me to understand the process when I’m talking with another agent.”
How are you applying your real estate license to your business?
“Dad and I are working together on several projects and I’ve taken on a few projects of my own. I consult on what we should build and how we should build it. When we buy a property, I look at what we can do with it. What’s the best use? How can we maximize our investment?”
Are you working on any passion projects?
“We recently purchased a marina in Sale Creek. It’s one of those properties where we can add a lot of value. In other words, it needs a lot of work. But my current passion is building houses. I like to innovate and try new things.
“For example, the typical house is an A-frame. That’s good for a builder’s margins and it meets code. But you lose a lot of functionality.
“So, I’m trying to build a flat roof house. Instead of having a traditional attic, the walls will go straight up and provide more space. Plus, you’ll be able to get on your roof and enjoy it. I’m not reinventing anything but I am trying to make what I’m building work better.”
Why did you choose to work with United?
“United is very agent friendly. They give you a lot of support but don’t chase after your commission. So if you know what you’re doing – you know what your strengths are and you don’t need someone to hold your hand – then Amy is there to guide you when you do have a question or issue.”
Is your energy depleted by the end of your workday or do you have a tank of reserves for doing other things?
“I love sports. I like playing tennis, golf and swimming. That was one of the luxuries of growing up in the U.S. Back home in Pakistan, I might not have had the luxury to play sports. I was beyond blessed.”
Your father passed on his work ethic to you. Did he pass on any aspects of your Pakistani heritage?
“I’m an American but there is a part of me that wants to understand the Pakistani culture. We didn’t speak English in our home when I was growing up; we spoke only our native language.
“I also grew up a Shia Ismaili Muslim. Our sect is very modern and progressive. Our faith encourages us to become educated and to make our mark in the world. It also urges us to volunteer in our community. I was better at that when I was younger.”
What else do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
“I like exploring and being involved with other faiths. I attend a Christian men’s retreat called Element 26 every year. Each October, a group of 50 or 60 guys will go to a mountain and worship, hike and break into small groups.”
“I like the transparency. Christians are very open. They’ll tell you about the terrible things they did – they became an alcoholic; they cheated on their wife – and then they will share about how they discovered Jesus and how He impacted them. Even though I’m Muslim, I can relate to that.
“I also like volunteering with those guys. I can do good through someone else’s faith.”
Do you believe you’ll someday make the same impact your father has made through his work?
“I like to equate everything to sports, so my dad is Tom Brady. I’ll never be able to compete against him. He’s set the bar too high.”