Harrison Rogers has a large picture in his office of him shaking hands at center court with Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe.
Rogers is a huge fan of the team and leases a suite at the arena. He intends to buy the team by the time he’s 35, which gives him seven years.
There isn’t a trace of arrogance in that goal, only confidence, and anyone who knows this Mesa native, former MMA competitor and multimillionaire wouldn’t bet against him.
Not bad for a guy who dropped out of high school at 17 to start his first business.
“I love learning and obtaining knowledge, but formal education didn’t do that for me,” Rogers said. “I love start-ups, and I love growing businesses.”
Rogers fortuitously sold his successful carpet-cleaning business in 2007—his biggest client was a homebuilder—and he parlayed his profit into a much bigger stack of chips by trading currencies on the foreign exchange market.
In 2009, Rogers invested his earnings to start up Lexington Life Academy, which provides in-home and classroom learning services for autistic and other special-needs students. Lexington has six K-12 schools in the state. Rogers, whose sister Jackie is autistic, plans to open 10 more before 2018 and 100 nationwide before 2020.
He’s considering applying Lexington’s data-driven, results-oriented model to a new kind of charter school.
“I want to revolutionize formal education,” he said.
Because Lexington’s expansion plans require finding suitable commercial space, Rogers formed LCI Realty to acquire neighborhood shopping centers. The company is also busy procuring homes that will allow autistic adults to live independently.
Earlier this year, Rogers launched Hybryd Systems, a home and office security and automation service. For offices, Hybryd provides state-of-the-art CCTV and access control, as well as network and Wi-Fi solutions. The company’s residential security packages can be augmented with touchscreen control over music, lighting, ceiling fans and energy management.
Like LCI Realty, Hybryd Systems would be profitable if its only client was Lexington Life Academy, Rogers said. He describes it as creating a “self-economy,” but he’s not exactly surprised either that the two companies are attracting new clients and scaling rapidly. Because Lexington and his other businesses require “ridiculous” amounts of liability insurance, Rogers aims to launch an insurance company for the same reason.
Next year, Rogers will be opening an entertainment venue called Cinema Lanes in Taylor, Arizona. His wife Mikenna is from the neighboring town of Snowflake. Mom, Dad and the four Rogers children—6,4,2 and 6 months—really enjoy the FatCats theater experience in Gilbert.
He’ll also open a waffle-themed restaurant, called FullAfflle, in the Santa Fe Square shopping center at Gilbert Road and Southern Avenue in Mesa.
These new businesses have two added benefits. They’ll provide employment opportunities for autistic and special-needs individuals. And they give Rogers the unusual ability to fill vacancies in and drive traffic to his own shopping centers.
Rogers steals a glance at the picture of him and Bledsoe again, and the conversation drifts back toward the Suns.
The team isn’t for sale, of course, but Rogers figures that owner Robert Sarver, being a shrewd banker and real estate investor, might sell if the price is right. Sarver bought the Suns in 2004 for $401 million.
“I don’t care if I take a bath on it,” Rogers said. “It’s been my goal forever.”
Not surprisingly, Rogers’ idol is Mark Cuban, the flamboyant Shark, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. When asked if he would bring the Suns to the East Valley, Rogers smiled.
“I wouldn’t want them to be too far from me,” he said. “Fiesta Mall would be perfect.”
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