Since I realize that people like to do business with people that they like, trust and feel are competent, I'd like to introduce you to how I ended up on the Gulf Coast of Southern Florida...
I'm a Northeasterner by birth having grown up about 25 miles Northwest of Philadelphia (The City of Brotherly Love and the Eagles.) We lived in a small town (actually a Village) and had the opportunity to roam hundreds of acres of farmland and woods with not very many people in sight! It was hard to believe we were less than 1 hour from one of the major cities in the US and a hop, skip, and a jump from the Mainline and its fabulous estates built by some of the country's most historic and wealthy figures.
My father was an avid sportsman and at a very young age introduced me to the game of golf. A life long love affair was born! I played every chance I could. For my birthday one year I received a one year Junior membership with unlimited play to the local public course for the grand sum of $85.00. My how times have changed! The course owner actually tried to renege claiming that I was taking unfair advantage of the low rate. My Dad calmly explained that he had paid the man per his desired fee schedule and that it was now time to meet his own comittment. I learned early on to exceed my own obligations and expect and require others to at least meet theirs. That has been my approach to business to this day.
During summer break from college in the Northeast one year I worked at Yellowstone National Park enjoying backpacking and mountain climbing. I know I had a job also but don't recall much other than that it paid for more equipment and a camera. After the season ended, we traveled around the West for about 3-4 weeks and ended up in Phoenix with the intention of visiting a friend and then returning for the next school year. Well, I never knew that places existed that were actually temperate throughout the year. To make a long story short I finished up my degree in Business at Arizona State University while trying to fit in as much golf as possible. Upon graduation, I landed a postion in the Purchasing Department with NCR-San Diego.
Now I really had the opportunity to live in Paradise. What a city! It was still relatively small in 1984 when I got there and the golf was not only spectacular, but it was cheap. We played Torrey Pines every weekend for $8.50! Unheard of! During this period of time I had the opportunity to meet a co-worker who was a real-estate investor and my second love was born. I learned the value of passive income, increasing equity and capital appreciation.
During the following years we bought investment property together in LaJolla with the intention of renovating them and reselling for a profit. Well, of course the market immediately went into the tank! The neat thing was that we could always lease the property out and still hold onto it and increase our equity though paying down the note. All was not lost!
This was in the late 1980's. In the meantime my parents had started a family business named Sportmen's Closet. Dad was the driving force and star salesman and Mom made sure that the books were accurate and that the product actually went out the door. The business was a wholesale distributorship of flyfishing books and videos.
One day they asked me if I would consider relocating back to Philly to join the business as they needed help and wanted to retire in a few years. I said yes, left paradise behind and joined the business. I kept my ownership in the California Real Estate and relearned the unsung joys of a less than temperate climate. Fortunately within a few years we were the largest and most profitable business of our kind in the country! Business was great and I had time to enjoy the fabulous golf courses of the Philadelphia vicinity.
Unfortunately, one fateful evening we lost the entire business and inventory due to an electrical fire. We elected not to restart for numerous reasons and I