James Royo

President of Shoreline Foundation

James Anthony Royo was born in Miami, Florida, and is known by everyone as Tony. Born into a lower to middle class family, his parents and grandparents worked hard to ensure that he and his siblings had what they needed. Along with his two brothers, Tony enjoyed a typical childhood with lots of sports, mischief, and good times. In his youth, his family moved quite a few times, which made it difficult to keep in touch with childhood friends. Looking back, Tony realizes that living in multiple locations taught him early on to be independent and self-reliant.

Tony met the love of his life, Linda, during his senior year in high school and they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this September. Their son, James Michael, and daughter, Kristen Taylor, complete their family.

At the age of 18, Tony pursued a variety of jobs in order to save for college and moved into his own apartment. That same year, while walking with Linda along the road, he was hit by a speeding car. Lucky to be alive, Tony endured three surgeries and spent a month in the hospital. In a full-length leg cast for nine months, with no health insurance, no car, no way to work, and no money, Tony lost his apartment and moved in with his older brother. During his recovery, he taught himself to play the guitar, and learned the value of having a few close friends, who helped him through that difficult time…..friends he remains close to this day.

Over the next several years Tony worked with his uncle in marine construction. During this time he developed a network of contacts in the marine construction industry, which included his friends, John McGee and Barry Reed. The three had been friends since high school and ended up working on and off together in marine construction for the next 10 years.

As fate would have it, Tony suffered a back injury that caused him to get out of construction and seek employment elsewhere. These new endeavors were not professionally fulfilling, and then by chance, Tony ran into John McGee at a Cuban coffee shop in Miami. As they reminisced about their time working together in marine construction, John said, “Tony, let’s start our own marine construction business.” Barry Reed was quick to join the venture and Tony took on the challenge of studying and taking the tests necessary to become a licensed contractor in the state of Florida.

In just a few months after their chance encounter, Shoreline Foundation was incorporated in June of 1986. For the last 35 years, Tony has been the President of Shoreline Foundation and the three founding partners have worked together providing their clientele with the best in specialty marine construction services throughout Florida, the Bahamas and beyond.

Where did the idea for Shoreline Foundation come from?

We knew we could provide marine construction services at a lower price than the older well-established companies and that we could complete projects in less time. When we decided to form our partnership and create Shoreline Foundation Inc, John, Barry and I already had over 30 years of marine construction experience under our belts. We were young and ambitious and perhaps a bit naïve of what was involved in establishing a marine construction company from scratch. We forged ahead in those early years and put in the long hours and hard work necessary to be successful.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day starts as always with a kiss to my wife, a prayer to the Almighty, and a good strong cup of coffee. We strive every day to ensure we provide the best value for our clients by providing accurate and timely proposals, high quality workmanship, getting jobs done in an expeditious and professional manner. For our employees, many of whom have been part of our company for over 25 years, we provide a safe work environment and a family feel of inclusion.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Shoreline is unique in that we have three owners that are not family, and we are all quite different from each other. For all of us to agree on something, it must be a really good idea, and then all three of us will work together to bring the idea to life.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Efforts are underway globally to fortify coastal cities and make them more resilient to sea level rise. As south Florida’s premier specialty marine construction company, we are very much involved in that effort, providing our government, commercial and residential clientele with shoreline fortification. New and higher seawalls, jetty reconstruction, stabilizing shorelines with rip-rap boulders, are now more than ever of utmost importance. Shoreline Foundation is meeting the demands of this trend and building the required infrastructure to help insure the future of Florida’s coastal municipalities.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Being diligent in my work makes me more productive. I maintain a comprehensive written “To Do” list and work to complete as many of the tasks on that list as possible each day. Of course, each day requires that I prioritize and add additional tasks to the list. It is a great feeling to look back at your list at end of the work week and see the results of your productivity.

What advice would you give your younger self?

You do not need to be the biggest company to be the best company.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

That I could have been a rock star.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Always doing what is right to get the job done safely and properly for your clients and your employees.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

We are very responsive when a client needs something. We will work on certain projects even when we are not under contract and provide clients with construction budgets years before the project can be built. Even though there is often no guarantee that we will get the job, we still stay committed to the project and help the owner, the general contractor, or the client get to the finish line. This strategy of providing a significant amount of front-end work for our clients helps them get what they need so that their project can progress and become a reality.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Despite my best intentions of pursuing a formal higher education, I ended up pursuing work instead. Looking back, I think it is safe to say that I have definitely earned the equivalent of a graduate degree from the experiences gained by learning through hard work.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A great idea would be a mobile barbeque and bar that you can pull with a golf cart to take with you when camping or going to music festivals. You can cruise around with it, and you are the life of the party.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Going to the Sebring Racetrack and watching professional race cars going by while sitting on the patio restaurant with my wife was a wonderful night out!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

YouTube has a lot of great videos for just about everything imaginable.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recommend Learn to Play Guitar for Dummies. I have always been glad that I learned to play the guitar.

What is your favorite quote?

“When the going gets tough the tough get going.”

Key Learnings:

• Not having a formal education did not hold me back from business success.
• Be sure you have worked in an industry for at least five years before you start your own business in that area.
• Be prepared for Murphy’s law because challenges will come.
• Try to keep a balance between your business and your family and yourself. Do not prioritize making money over the importance of your family. Nothing is more important than family.