David Marom is a real estate entrepreneur with nearly 40 years of experience in the industry. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, he emigrated to New York in his early 20s after serving in the Israeli army. David Marom is the founder of The Horizon Group, a real estate development and construction firm who focuses on residential development throughout New York City and Miami. David Marom is a passionate philanthropist who focuses on historically underrepresented groups, including individuals with disabilities and terminal illnesses and children from low-income communities. David Marom lives in New York City with his wife and has two daughters and two grandchildren.
Where did the idea for The Horizon Group come from?
My wife actually came up with our name, The Horizon Group. I believe it was on one of our many trips to Tel Aviv.
I learned about construction from my father-in-law. He was a developer in the 1960s who primarily focused on developing apartment buildings in Brooklyn and single-family homes on Long Island. When I met him, I had just arrived in the US for the first time and started dating his daughter. He immediately accepted me into his family and taught me all about construction. I eventually supplemented his teachings with classes at NYU. But almost everything I have learned over the past several decades has been from hands-on experience while working in the field. The Horizon Group started as a small construction company based on Long Island and today, we are a real estate development and construction firm throughout NYC and Miami.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m an early riser. I wake up around 4am (without an alarm clock!), make some coffee, catch up on the US and Israeli news and then begin checking my email. I probably work about 18 hours a day, 365 days a year. I love what I do and it’s my passion, so I have no issue working even when I’m on vacation. We are a small, family run business and we all wear a lot of different hats, including me. I’m still involved in everything, even some of the “smallest” administrative matters because every facet of the company is so important to me.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m constantly evaluating the market by reading the trades, connecting with my network and checking in with my team. Real estate development and construction are dependent on the state of today’s market as well as what’s going to happen in 5 years, so it’s important to always keep a pulse on the industry.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Unique architectural design. There’s so much to look at in New York City so I love developing buildings that will quite literally stop design enthusiasts in their tracks. I also always strive to build something that people can continue to talk about and celebrate for many decades to come. Examples of this trend include two of my projects on the Lower East Side: 100 Norfolk—the building was designed with a narrow base and ascends to an expansive top using a dramatic series of cantilevers and glass curtainwall and 61 Rivington Street aka “The Library”—we preserved the building’s structure from 1905 when it was a New York Public Library and added 3 new glass stories on top.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m a creative thinker and believe in taking risks. We are often posed with “issues” and my team will come to me to brainstorm solutions. I’ve been in this industry a long time and I’ve seen a lot.
I’m also very passionate about my projects whether it’s in real estate or the non-profit work I’m involved with. My passion is real and can be emotional; I believe this is a positive trait because I’m always 100% invested and so proud of everything I put my name on.
This passion and emotion are what drove me to get involved with the Israeli non-profit, The Unifying Line and why I became a sponsor of the Little Haiti Supreme Football Club team. Most recently, I launched Pawsability Dog Club with my daughter and other co-founders. Pawsability is a dog daycare and grooming facility in Bushwick, Brooklyn that provides vocational training and employment opportunities for autistic adults. My non-profit work largely focuses on historically underrepresented groups, including individuals with disabilities and terminal illnesses and children from low-income communities.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If you want to work in real estate, start by studying engineering in school so you can learn about the construction side of the business. This will allow you to understand real estate from the inside out.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The American dream is attainable. I’m so grateful for the opportunities this country has given me.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
When evaluating a new property, I always assess its value based on a 5-year timeline. It takes time to develop buildings. There are always hurdles and setbacks so you can’t just base an evaluation on the current market. Banks use the term “fire sale” to evaluate projects—i.e., how would the property perform if it needed to sell at distressed prices? I always keep “fire sale” in mind when developing new projects by designing residential buildings that can easily pivot to a condo or rental. This is achieved in the early design process; we develop layouts and amenity spaces that can serve as condo or rental and make a final decision as we get closer to launch. It’s a lot to consider but you must always think ahead as the market is constantly fluctuating.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
When it’s the right time, expand into new markets.
Miami is the perfect example. Miami was the hot ticket item during the pandemic because everyone wanted to move south. I decided to jump on the trend, but I had to be smart about it. I chose to develop in areas of Miami where there will always be a high demand, regardless of the pandemic. We also strategically decided to focus on mid-sized residential buildings that are always desirable. Follow the trend but be smart and strategic.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The real estate market can be volatile and with that comes recessions. As a result, every entrepreneur has experienced turbulence in some capacity. I don’t consider anything to be a “failure” but in this industry you must take risks and you aren’t always successful.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Open up an indoor pickleball club in NYC. The sport became immensely popular this year and there aren’t enough places for New Yorkers to play, especially during the colder months. Make it a social spot where people can meet, drink, play, and have fun. Then sell branded merchandise everyone will want to live in.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was certainly more than $100 but I’m so proud of the non-profit we built, Pawsability Dog Club.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
A few years ago, my team started using Procore for all our projects. Procore is a construction management software that manages our projects, resources, and financials from project planning to closeout. Everyone involved in our projects (architect, project managers, MEP, contractors, etc.) uses Procore so it really helps us in terms of productivity. It was a game changer for us.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I really admire Mike Bloomberg and his impressive career. I would read anything on his list.
What is your favorite quote?
“You can have anything you want if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.” – Abraham Lincoln
- Persuade family and friends to get involved in your business; there’s nothing more rewarding than sharing success with those closest to you.
- Take risks and be prepared to make mistakes
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.