ST. PETERSBURG — Three months after stepping down as chief executive of electronic powerhouse Jabil Circuit, Tim Main is trying out a much more low-tech vocation: landlord.
This month, Main and his wife, Donna, have spent more than $4 million buying seven high-end homes and condos in or near St. Petersburg's Old Northeast neighborhood, all in the hopes of renting them out for thousands of dollars a month.
Main, 55, called his "little family business" a "distraction" after 12 years as head honcho of the St. Petersburg-based tech manufacturer, which earned $17 billion last year worldwide.
"Something for the college kids to work on in the summertime," said Main, a father of seven children and former boss of 121,000 employees.
But Main's new venture, Main Real Estate Holdings, is far from a lemonade stand. In one day this month, the Mains spent nearly $900,000 buying two downtown condos, including a $595,000 "city home" at 400 Beach Drive. In the next week, they bought five more homes in the Old Northeast for nearly $3.5 million.
Among them: a $615,000 Craftsman-style home with a wrap-around porch, a sky blue Folk Victorian with four bathrooms bought for $650,000, and a palatial pink estate built in the 1920s and bought for $775,000. In the coming weeks, he plans to buy a few more.
Renting them won't come cheap. The least expensive, a Walker Whitney Plaza condo, will cost tenants $2,500 a month. Most others, all unfurnished, will hew closer to $5,000 a month.
Main's new project sounds a lot like the business model of massive Wall Street outfits like the Blackstone Group, which have invested billions of dollars nationwide on buying, fixing and renting out homes.
But while those firms have catered to renters turned off by homeownership or turned out by foreclosure, Main is focusing on executives, physicians and professionals looking for a nice neighborhood for their families — and willing to spend a pretty penny to get it.
Main won't say how he's funding his investment. But company reports show he earned $29.3 million over the last three years, including $9.2 million last year.
The Mains live nearby in a 9,000-square-foot Mediterranean mansion on Snell Isle's Brightwaters Boulevard, which they bought in 2006, near the peak of the market, for $5.3 million. Last year, the late $65,000 tax bill for that home was the second biggest in Pinellas County; Main called it an oversight and quickly paid it off.
Earlier this year, Main told the Tampa Bay Times he planned to spend retirement playing guitar and golf, relaxing at the family's summer home in Michigan, and dodging the kinds of bad investments he had seen burn retired executives before.
But while he believed real estate now was a good bet, he said he underestimated just how much work there was in fixing up and managing homes.
"If I could unwind some of it, I would, to be honest with you," Main said. "I'm hoping the frenetic pace of renting these things out will get back to a low noise level soon, so I can get back to my retirement."
Times staff writer Jeff Harrington contributed to this report. Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or [email protected]