James Khuri is a well-respected entrepreneur. He has been building successful businesses for over 20 years. Currently residing as CEO of nine companies, James proves he is a tenacious leader in multiple industries. His companies range from real estate to manufacturing and distribution, brick and mortar retail stores, and e-commerce websites. James was born and raised in Rochester, New York. In 1983, his family moved to Lebanon in an attempt to re-establish residence there. However, after just six months they returned to New York due to the hostile and unsafe living conditions caused by the ongoing war. James went on to attend the University of Rochester where he obtained his MBA from the Simon School of Business.
At 32, he moved from New York to California where he currently resides. James began his career in commercial real estate in 2001. Currently, he owns multiple apartment buildings in the city of Los Angeles, as well as medical buildings in New York. James has been considering refrigerated warehouses as an investment opportunity sometime in the near future. He has wisely stayed away from other forms of real estate buildings because he does not believe anything else is viable in the current market. Aside from real estate, James bigger passion and larger area of success is e-commerce. He developed a love of trading cards, which started from fond memories as a child, into a burgeoning distribution business. He has become Amazon’s main distributor for trading cards and Hasbro & Mattel merchandise for over 136 countries. With diverse products, adapting fulfillment and distribution plans, the entrepreneur is expected to exceed his previous growth in the coming years. With growth also comes exciting achievements like Amazon assigning an employee to work exclusively with one of James’ companies to assist on his sales in the 136 countries they are selling to. Another accomplishment is a new fulfillment system created in partnership with Walmart called “Fulfilled by Walmart”.
When he can find free time, James is usually spending it with his teenage son. They love to explore new restaurants together and find new movies to watch. James is also devoted to keeping his mind and body in peak condition, so he stays active by engaging in activities like lifting weights, hiking, and boxing. James’ mother has been a core person in his life as well, one he has relied on in good times and bad alike. James also has a philanthropic side, and he has shown this in various ways many times. He has organized activities like donating toys and trading cards to children in need in the Los Angeles area around Christmas time. His bigger passion project has been co-founding the charity beautifullminds.com, a non-profit that provides facilities and programs with educational assistance to help those in the community needing assistance getting mental and spiritual support, rehab support, and physical education/therapy. James Khuri is undoubtedly dedicated to being a loving father and son, as well as a formidable CEO. He will always work thoughtfully to bring the needs and desires to those around the world and at the same time enrich his community along the way.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
During my studies in college, I was very focused on attending medical school, but halfway through, I realized that my true passion was to be an entrepreneur. As soon as I graduated, I began working for a company and built myself up from there by gaining some experience. Then I went on and started forming my own companies after that. In 1986, I started opening baseball cards when my dad would buy them for me for my birthday and that is what got me hooked. Later I developed this love into the concept of buying and selling, which motivated me to start my business. With real estate, I started buying medical office buildings in 2001, and now I am primarily confined to medical office buildings and apartment buildings because I do not believe that anything else would be worth the time or investment in the current market.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up and work on the computer all day because my work is around the world. So, I have many computers, managing pricing and checking each country to which we sell to see their needs for products. I own multiple building, so I am also on the phone with brokers about units. After that, I work out to get energy my out and wind down from the busy day. I spend some quality time with my son and when I can, I go out to eat to enjoy the food and relax. For productivity, I make sure to stay focused which is easy to do because there is typically much work to be done.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It’s all about the inspiration. I find inspiration in many places. From memories of my past, from envisioning the future, from looking at the world around me. The I take my inspiration and turn it into an idea that can make people’s lives better. Then I pour my focus into bringing that idea to life in the form of a working product or service that I can deliver to people.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Consumers are buying online now more than ever, and that trend will continue to grow. This has, of course, been great for the e-commerce business. I plan to invest in large, refrigerated warehouses in the near future because supermarkets and larger e-commerce companies will need more storage as demand for products continue to grow at exponential rates. As someone with vast experience in both e-commerce and real estate it is really the perfect investment opportunity for me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am consistent and I work hard. You always know what you will get with me. Clients want to do business with someone that is reliable. Being consistent in your work habits will also help your productivity because you become more efficient.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be humble, because no matter how successful you are and no matter how well you do, remember that there is always someone behind you who is ready to take over and take it all away from you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I like cold showers; I find them invigorating. Not many people agree with me on that.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Learn. Never stop learning, even if you think you know everything about a subject, keep taking in knowledge.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Diversifying. I never settled for just one category. I started with real estate, but I didn’t put myself in a box and say, “I’m only doing real estate now”. I kept starting new businesses when something piqued my interest and kept diversifying.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had taken out too much debt about 10 years ago for my companies and the way I overcame that was to work hard to get rid of the debt and I did! If you find yourself in a situation that feels overwhelming like that, just keep calm and stay focused on making the right moves that will make the biggest impact at the present time. If you make enough right moves, eventually you will get back to a good place.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Vertical farming. It is already being done to a certain extent, but I think it is something that needs to be invested in and expanded. It saves hundreds of acres, can be done indoors, and is better for the environment.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I sent my mother a gift. She has always been my biggest supporter and I wanted to remind her just how grateful I am of everything she has done for me over the years.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use different software in the form of automated systems that do a lot of the work for us with selecting the right products for different countries that we sell to. It helps us to streamline distribution productivity and efficiencies.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Built not Born by Tom Golisano and 12 Months to $1 Million: How to Pick a Winning Product, Build a Real Business because it is a book that helps you to learn how thinking differently is a great strategy for finding new business opportunities, and why it can be a good idea to question conventional wisdom.
What is your favorite quote?
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
– Peter Drucker
• Find inspiration to help you bring your ideas to life.
• Being consistent in your work habits will up your productivity.
• Never stop learning.
• Diversify your businesses.
• Make sure you show your gratitude to your supporters.
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.