They’re not lenders, but they know a few |

They’re not lenders, but they know a few

Samantha Simon, left, Frank McKinney, and Jolene Aubel in Florida this January. Photo: Courtesy Samantha Simon and Jolene Aubel.

For close to a decade, hungry Summit County residents flocked to Samantha Simon’s Samak Smokehouse in Kamas for homemade beef-jerky and lemonade, but since she sold the business, many folks have been wondering, what "Jerky Sam" is up to these days.

Nearly a year and half ago, Simon traded the restaurant business for a unique side of the now booming real estate industry. Simon and her partner, Jolene Aubel, are real estate investors, however, instead of purchasing properties, they help others, on the brink of foreclosure, to make payments on their homes.

Simon and Aubel don’t lend money, but help people find solutions to decrease debt by using their network of banks and realtors.

Sometimes the two make money from lenders after a client has been helped, but never from the clients themselves, according to Simon. And it is typical for the two to offer a consultation for free.

"A lot of times, people will just call us and we say, ‘well have you thought of this?’ and that’s all they need, and it doesn’t cost them anything," Simon explains. "Meetings are confidential and free."

Simon is the first to admit the explanation of exactly what she does for a living is complicated.

But here’s a good example: a Mexican family in Heber City was behind in mortgage payments and did not know where to turn. Simon, who happens to be completing her bachelor’s degree in Spanish, got in touch with them and helped them save their house, she says.

"Essentially, we work with people who are in debt and cannot pay for their home because of a challenging situation or because of health reasons or family issues like divorce," Simon explained. "What we really do is connect people and direct people to the answers."

"It happens to the best of us," she observes, noting that she helps seemingly wealthy homeowners as well homeowners who sometimes own multiple properties who have over-extended their budget. "You would be surprised: everyone has problems Life gets hard sometimes."

Simon looks at her new profession as a way of continuing the same kind of community involvement she had when she owned the Smokehouse.

"I really believe that if you take care of your community, your community will take care of you," she says.

It’s a motto she says she shares with one of her mentors in the real estate investment industry, Frank McKinney, a man she also considers as part of her company’s network.

McKinney is the author of a top-selling book called "Make It Big! 49 Secrets for Building a Life of Extreme Success," and has been called "the real estate rock czar" by the "Wall Street Journal." He sells homes in Palm Beach for millions of dollars (and some for a hundred million dollars), but more importantly, according to Simon, he gives back to the community. Through his nonprofit organization, the Caring House Foundation, Simon says he has built thousands of homes for poverty-stricken populations in places like Honduras and Haiti.

On the cover of his latest book, "Frank McKinney’s Maverick Approach to Real Estate Success: How You Can Go from a $50,000 Fixer-Upper to a $100 Million Mansion" McKinney says he donates all of his book profits and appearance fees to the foundation.

Simon and Aubel had the opportunity to attend an unveiling of a $100 million luxury oceanfront mansion project in Manalapan, Florida by McKinney.

"If you read any of Frank’s books, he talks about people, not business. He’s a very spiritual person," Simon explained, noting that McKinney recently donated his time to help her company with a client over the phone.

Simon says she knows first-hand how tough life, and personal finance can be.

"Growing up, my mom and step father went through financial troubles and they really didn’t know how to find solutions," she remembers. "There are answers out there and often, the people we work with find a light at the end of the tunnel."

Samantha Simon can be reached at (801) 891-7997 and Jolene Aubel can be reached at (435) 640-1616.

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