Be an asset to everyone, always look where you can add value.
Anthony Galeotafiore grew up in Bethpage, Long Island, New York. He attended Fordham University from 1991-95. He studied Political Science. After graduation, he landed his first job at a New York stock exchange investment firm. The firm taught him how to assess risk and reward in business.
By 1997 Anthony Galeotafiore had gained enough experience and confidence to strike out on his own. He founded AJG Capital, a Long Island-based real estate investment firm seeking out value-added opportunities in the local real estate market. Over the years he gained experience from all sides of the deal, as a lender, developer, principal, and consultant.
The culmination of experience allowed him to find opportunities, in a wide variety of asset classes. Some of those opportunities are in distressed real estate, commercial mortgages. Industrial properties, offices and mixed-use properties and on occasion, residential homes. AJG Capital has a proven track record of acquiring land and designing and building residential properties from the ground up.
Anthony Galeotafiore’s most recent projects include the Harborview State Condominiums which is a 40 unit waterfront property. It is a community for residents 55 and over. It is located on the south shore of Long Island. The Parkview Salsbury is a 30 unit 55 and over community that was completed in Westbury, Long Island. He also developed a small condominium project in the heart of Westbury. It is a four-story townhouse condominium project which was built and very quickly sold out.
Where did the idea for AJG Capital come from?
I was in the lending business. People would come to me with opportunities whether they were looking for money or had a project where they needed funding. It always kept me in the deal flow. In 1997 I decided to take on some of these deals as a developer and in some cases a lender. That was on the commercial and residential side. Because I was in the deal flow, the opportunities came across my desk.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts at 7 a.m. when I meet with my project managers. We go over the goals for the day, the week, and the month. We go over the inspections that have to be done. We address issues that have come up and plan a solution. By 10 a.m. I am making calls to the brokers that handle the sales to see where we are with prospective buyers. I spend time with my attorneys to see what negotiating may be left on any deals that I may be working on. The rest of the day is spent reaching out to brokers to look at potential deals going forward.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The way I bring ideas to life is by writing down a clear plan and we follow the plan step by step. Each day, we take baby steps towards that plan. I try to keep it simple.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The one trend that excites me in real estate development is the downtown redevelopment plan taking place on Long Island. Over the past decade, many of the downtown areas that were struggling, have a new excitement to revitalize. The towns are on board with it and the communities are on board with it. It is exciting to me because I look to make investments in downtowns that need revitalization. You tend to get a lot of support, a lot more appreciation, and you get a lot more done.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One habit of mine that makes me more productive is time management. Time management is really important. I think a lot of people waste a lot of time. I rarely take meetings unless it is absolutely necessary. I try to make my phone calls and emails very quickly. If a meeting is necessary, I get right to the point so that the other side knows exactly where I’m coming from and exactly what I’m looking for. Time management is critical to being productive as an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger, Anthony Galeotafiore to keep to the basics. Accomplish one thing at a time. Do one thing and become successful. Then complete it, make money on it, and then move on to the next.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
One thing that I know to be true is that real estate is not an easy business. People that see what I do think it is glamorous, and it looks easy and it looks fun, and it is all of that. But it is an extremely difficult business. It is very capital intensive. It is high risk because most of the deals that I go into take from 2-5 years to complete. When projects take that long it increases the market risk. I have this debate with many people. They think what I do is very easy, but it is not.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The one thing that I do first thing in the morning is to make a to-do list. I would recommend that as soon as you get to your desk and to do this every day and every week. As you complete each task on mark it off the list.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One of the business strategies that I always employ is to look where you can add value. It is not just a business strategy, I do this with employees, business contacts, friends, or family. I have always tried to demonstrate how I can be an asset. I don’t go into deals looking at what I can get from everyone else. I try to show how I can be an asset to everyone else. I know that has helped to grow my business over the years.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
During the 2008 financial crisis, I allowed myself to get over-extended. I took-on more deals than I should have. As a result, when the market turned, I lost all of my equity. The way I overcame it was I took every phone call from investors, from lenders, from contractors and paid everybody every dollar they were owed, and I kept them in the loop. I was direct with everybody. I laid all my cards on the table. People continued to work with me until I worked my way back to where I am today.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One idea for a business would be to have a real estate developer’s one-stop-shop of consulting. They would offer construction management with cost analysis, and a bidding process for the developer, AIA Requisition services and payroll services. This consultant should be able to handle all these aspects for a developer.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
On the professional side, I gave one of my employees an unexpected gift card to take his wife out to dinner. I try to do this because it goes a long way. I want my employees to know that they are being recognized and appreciated. In turn, I get a lot more production going forward.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Costar is a real estate listing service. It provides me with properties that are available along with ownership information. It also provides comparable sale listings and expense analysis. I also use google maps. I use it to view properties if a broker calls and asks me to take a look at a property. I use the street view to get a sense of the property. It saves me a lot of time. Sometimes I don’t even have to physically go there.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. It is a great book for anyone who wants to invest
What is your favorite quote?
Some people question and ask why. I question and ask why not.
• Be an asset to everyone, always look where you can add value.
• The most important thing to do first thing in the morning is to make a to-do list.
• Don’t go into deals looking at what I can get from everyone else.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.