After high school, John Catsimatidis wanted to spend the summer of 1966 like a teenage boy. Watching TV, Upper He was lounging on his parents’ couch in Manhattan.
But fate had other plans for Greek immigrants who arrived in the United States as infants in 1949.
Catsimatidis’ mother, Despina, couldn’t stand idly by as her son, an outstanding student at the Brooklyn Institute of Technology with an average IQ of about 140, became a couch potato.
So she dragged John to the neighborhood grocery store and put him to work building shelves for shelves, doing everything under the sun to earn an honest paycheck.
His mother’s insistence on getting a job that summer was vital for Katsimatidis to become a self-made billionaire business mogul, he writes in his new memoir. “How far do you want to go?: Lessons from a common-sense billionaire” (Matt Holt), coming out on Tuesday.
“Life would have been very different if my mother hadn’t pushed me off the couch,” Katsimatidis said.
After that summer, Katsimatidis enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at New York University, majoring in engineering, but he wasn’t sure what he really wanted to do with his life. By the time he graduated, he had six credits left, so he did the unthinkable, dropped out of a prestigious school, and turned to the man who once hired him to work at a grocery store: “Cousin he’s Tony.” and teamed up. Tony, a fellow Greek immigrant who may or may not be related, was looking to sell shares in a store he owned with his uncle Nick.
He gave Catsimatidis half without any upfront payment, but instead paid him $1,000 a month in the future. Catsimatidis agreed to the deal, horrifying his parents.
“We sent you to college, Humari? ‘ said his dad, who is a chef and waiter, using the slang of his crate career.
His mother, on the other hand, thought he was “throwing away not just my education, but my family’s entire life-changing trip to America.” “Why work for other people when you can have your own business? Isn’t that the essence of the American Dream?”
In 1969, just nine months into their business venture, Catsimatidis and Nick were making $1,000 a week — back then, electrical engineers were only making $129 a week — and things took a turn for the better. was Then the “neighborhood tough guy” tried swinging the clerk around. Nick tells him not to make any noise, but the rogue is back.
So Kachimatidis brought a handgun to work and pulled it out when Hustler returned.
“I did not hesitate for a moment. “From this store again he’s within three blocks,” I said calmly but bluntly. He said nothing more. “
By 1974, Catsimatidis and Nick’s grocery business (then called Red Apple) had expanded to several locations in New York City. Catsimatidis was only 24 years old.
“I was making a million dollars a year and still living at home with my family,” he said. “That’s how I wanted to do it.”
As his interests grew, so did his yearning to pursue his adolescent passion.
Shortly before his 30th birthday, he received his pilot’s license and purchased a jet from Walt Disney’s brother Roy.
“I came to this because I wanted to attend the Air Force Academy when I was younger,” Katsimatidis said. “I loved flying, especially on Tuesday afternoons.”
He eventually got into the air travel business, transporting people to Atlantic City on 20 planes in the early 1980s.
In 1986, he sold the plane company to an associate of Warren Buffett, who later used it to launch the NetJets.
That same year, Red Apple acquired Gristedes, making it the largest supermarket chain in New York City.
As the decades passed, Katsimatidis dabbled in politics. In 2013, he ran for mayor of New York City in the Republican primary, but was ultimately defeated by former deputy mayor Joe Rota and Bill de Blasio.
Catsimatidis now oversees Gristedes Foods, a grocery empire with over 30 stores in New York City.he also manages some 2 million square feet of real estate It operates United Refining Company, an oil refinery in Pennsylvania, in New York, Florida, and elsewhere in the United States.
2020, he bought WABChe shows off his gift to Gab every weekday at 5 p.m. on his “Cats and Cosby” radio show with Rita Cosby. Not bad for a college dropout.
“You cannot win if you are too afraid to lose,” he wrote.
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