What was the first step for you in becoming your own boss?
I was working for another company and I realized that this was not going to work. I wasn’t going to make someone else $1 million a year so they could hand me a $50,000 W2 form. That wasn’t going to happen and at that moment, I took charge and decided even though I didn’t have my own money, at that moment, I built some clientele who backed me up. That was purely built on trust. I didn’t have nothing but my word and that’s how I started to be honest. That was the birth of Emilia Motors.
How did you come up with the name Emilia Motors?
I left home when I was 19 years old when I first lived in England. From England, I moved to Italy because I knew some people. I went to work at a supermarket there unplanned. Although I do not believe in destiny, I ended up in Emilia Romagna, which is the region where all the cars came from, the city called Modena, anybody knows Ferrari would know this and that name stuck to me, Emilia Romagna. When I decided to open my company, I had to have a catchy name so I put the name Emilia Motors. I thought it was easy and that name stuck to me ever since I left Italy when I was about 21 years old and I wanted to keep that name as a reminder of where I’m coming from.
How did you establish trust and build credibility when you started?
I have a few clients that I can call my family that I’ve worked closely with over a decade. They stuck with me and at the beginning, they were actually asking me why I didn’t do anything on my own. I said I was thinking about it but even as a brokerage firm, you need space to build something. You’ve got to have money. We’re not talking about a $1. A couple of my clients from Monte Carlo told me, “Don’t worry about it. You do what you can and we’ll back you up and you’re going to be successful.” That was scary to be honest. It’s easy to spend somebody else’s money and I don’t particularly like that.
Then I blew up very quickly because my clientele is on Forbes Magazine top list. When I go to the events in Monte Carlo I meet these people. Networking is important to business. They all stuck to me. Next thing I know, within a year, my telephone was ringing off the hook and nobody asked any questions. I want this, I want that, from Moscow, Istanbul, Geneva.
I’ve developed dealers from Paris and especially Southern France. Switzerland is my forte and one of my dealers over there, Carugati Motors, brought me a lot of customers, and that’s what this last decade is all about.
You’re now actively involved in real estate. Tell us about that.
Because real estate is where the real big money is. If you look at anybody who are in the business, unless you are Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, the land and ownership of a house is an ultimate dream. They never ask. People want to better themselves and one day, you buy $2-million apartment, the next day you want the $4-million apartment. A house is a good way to invest as well.
If you buy it right, in a couple of years, you can sell it and profit and you’re not going to say that about any other business because your money is literally sitting there and you’re making your money or whether you actually live in it or rent it. The opportunities are endless but like they said in the Superman movie, “The land is the only one you cannot make.”
Tell us about your new firm Ocean Avenue Realty.
Ocean Avenue Realty is catering high end clientele mostly. We do work with lower end if we have to but time is valuable and small deals take more time than the big deals.
My partner Joe Cimino and I decided that Ocean Avenue Realty will cater to $1,000,000+ homes and lend deals and some commercial but not much because I have to deal with Emilia Motors. I don’t want to let it go. I love cars. I love my cars with clienteles and my dealer friends all over the world. I did that myself, I built that myself and that’s dear to my heart still.
Was the birth of Ocean Avenue Realty due to your car clientele requesting homes and other luxury goods?
Yeah because I’ve been asked. I get interesting offers. I mean, a few years back, a Russian client asked me if I can get him dolphins. Actual animals to put in his giant pool and I was shocked. It’s just like “You’re really good at getting everything for us. He said, “Can you get it?” I said “Yes, actually I can get it but you need a very special permit for this.”
The requests are like “I need this, I need that.” One client from Geneva told me he knew that this guy in Paris who owns a 1939 Alfa Romeo which is worth roughly about $15 million and he asked me, he said, “I will pay for it and I want it in my collection. Can you get it?” He even knew exactly where it is but those kind of people, they don’t want to dial anybody. They just want people to do it for them. I did it, I put a deal together, never lied my customers. If it’s $1 million deal, if it’s $100,000 deal, or $5,000 deal, it doesn’t matter. I tell them exactly and I tell them what’s fair. They always pay me more than fair.
How to you manage to run this business when it seems like you’re always on call?
The technology helps me a lot. That’s number one. I wake up early but after all, we do have wholesalers literally in Europe, Middle East, and pretty much all over the United States. We have connections and all we have to do is just, “We are looking for this” and next thing you know, it spreads like a web.
All you have to do is just literally just say you’re looking for 1-year-old Aventador to five people, the next thing you know, they are calling you for this, this, and this. The process goes very fast and you connections to four different wholesalers but mostly it’s a few people that actually work for us and then the rest comes easy.