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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
D--Interview with Edward Pacelli in his home on Biltmore Drive in Ft. Myers,
Florida. The date is December 14, 1987. The interviewer is David Dodrill.
Mr. Pacelli, would you tell me a little bit about your background, before
you came to Gulf American, where you born...?
E-I was born in New Haven, Connecticut. For my formal education, I went
through high school, graduated and went right to the service. During
) 3 my tenure in the service I was stationed here in Buckingham,---
instructor. I married a local girl and after the war, I came back and
settled here. WEnt into the restaurant business out at Ft. Myers Beach,
spent about ten years in that and then went into general real estate, and
then Gulf American.
D-What, even before you went to work for Gulf American, did you have, or
were you associated with Gulf American before you went to work for them,
were they already involved down here?
E--I worked for the William I. Reynolds Company, sold them the original tract
of land. And of course being in the office, I got involved with them and
knew them from the office.
D--Were you in on helping them purchase that land, originally?
E--Well, we all chipped in. I didn't make the sale, if that's what you're
D-What prompted you to go to work for Gulf then?
E--It was a very exciting program that they started to unfold in our office.
They used our office as headquarters, sort of. And at first I didn't take
much stock in the original sale because we had sold a lot of acreage to
people who had said that they were going to develop, but never did deve-
lop. They were merely speculators, and we kind of put these people in the
same category. They bought the land and were going to hang on to it and
triple their money, and that would be the last of them. But then, that
wasn't the case. They started bringing in engineers and started to really
unfold the plan which was exciting. And I kind of got swept up into it.
D-When did you come to work for them?
E-I guess it was '58.
D-That original piece of land, was that the original 2200 acres down towards
the southern part or was that the 17000?
E-No, the original piece, I guess it was about 1200 acres, I'm not sure.
But it was everything south what is now Cape Coral Parkway, over to...
I can't remember that street.
D-Over to Coronado?
E--Oh, further. It goes down to the yacht basin, and then it went west to
D-So, they hadn't purchased much land north of Cape Coral Parkway when you
went to work for them? Tell me a little bit about your job when you went
to work for them, were you a salesman.'..'?
F--Originally, that's how it started out. It started selling just anybody
who came to the property, and then they wanted to go into the brokerage
program throughout the country.
D--Tell me a little bit about that brokerage program.
E-Well, it started....Kind of a trial and error thing. I don't think any-
body really knew the true format. We tried to develop a format program as we
went along, really. On what should be done with handling brokers through-
out the country, we knew that we wanted to go national. We knew that we
needed the exposure and it was real estate, and we had to go to brokers.
We didn't know how the brokers would accept or would they accept us. And
so we put out ads into the various areas that we wanted to go into, so
then New England States
we started in New York, and went to the Midwest states, and interviewed
brokers. We formulated a plan where they would develop in their own of-
fice a Florida theme, palm trees, etc. Whenever they were interviewing
people to buy property they had that Florida setting. It made it a
little more realistic. And the broker had to come and inspect the pro-
perty. There wasn't much to inspect at that time. It was just some
bulldozers running around, some drag lines, a couple roads and that was
about it. And a big plan for what was to come. And we started that and
went on with various other states, and the original brokerage started in
New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, to be precise.
Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, that was the original area that we hit and
brought in brokers. And from there we built.
D-Approximately what year was that?
E-It was about '58, '59.
D--Right at the very beginning.
E--It was about 30 years ago and things are kind of hazy for me.
D--I understand, but that was right at the very beginning. Now this was some-
thing new that Gulf AMerican did that other corporations didn't have?
E--We didn't know about it if they did. Of course, there weren't that many
corporations out there. There was one other corporation, General Develop-
ment. They were on a national scale and Lehigh Acres, and I don't know
what they were doing nationally. But General Development was more or less
the same. The plan that we had pretty much ran parallel with them and
their ideas and concepts. I don't know who took from whom. At that time
General Development had the 'Mackle brothers. Outside of that, that's the
only three corporations that I knew were anywhere out there. And of
course, later on others came up.
D-Well, as that brokerage system kind of developed and everything, would
you in charge of kind of overseeing all that, making sure that people
were doing the right thing?
D-How big of a job was that? Were you just on the road constantly?
E--Pretty much so. I was gone three weeks and then part of the fourth,
and, it ran well for a while, but we had masterplans that called for
bigger expansions. And the brokers couldn't afford to keep up with us.
And so we had to go to our owned and operated offices, in addition to
brokers so that we could test new sales and do the things that you couldn't
ask a broker to take money out of his pocket, to test the sales program.
And of course, brokers are a little slower than what you would like.
Some of them were aggressive and some were not. Most of them were not.
And so we had to go into what we called owned and operated offeces.
D--Explain about those. Those were just company offices
E--Yes. And we appointed our own sales managers. We picked up the full tab,
and they brought in their own salespeople. In most cases, it was right
along side a broker in that area, and it didn't bother the broker in
the area, because.... Well, we had a pretty fair advertising campaign
"/^ and we were inundated with leads, just inundated. The Garroway Show, there was
no way a broker could cover all the leads we were getting from them. I
can't even think of it. Bill Cullums's program. It produced a tremen-
dous amount of leads. It seemed like any of the programs that we bought
up time on, they were just blasting with leads. And then we did our own
/4( local commercials and we had Bill jterrr as our spokesman. And we would
do five minutes, three minutes, six minute segments with Bill Sternlocal-
ly to help brokers get leads. And that was very successful. So here we
had all these leads and not enough people to cover them, which again, not
being redundant, but that created that urgency to get them while they were
still alive and hot.
D--Sure. In a city like Detroit, how big would the office be, the owned and
E--The size of the office wasn't really that important. The Detroit office
we had broken down into three areas. We had a broker, as a matter of fact,
we had two brokers. And we had our own operation in Detroit. And so,
you are looking at maybe total personnel of 'thirty to fifty people.
D--It was a big operation.
D--How much did the brokers and then again the owned and operated, how much
did those count for the total sales? Were the brokers a small part of it?
E--Well, at the outset, yes. The brokers contributed possibly--these numbers
escape me-maybe fifty per cent. We had mail order, I can't remember the
percentage of mail order, and then walk-in on the property.
D--Did the walk-ins begin to contribute?
E--Oh, yes. Heavily.
D--When did the corporation begin to aggressively bring people down on planes?
E-I guess it's almost the same time. We opened the brokers on the national
scale and did it locally. Locally, we did that in the state of Florida.
we had brokers to represent us and found that it was pretty easy for them.
to take their prospects and just drive them to the property. And once
they got to the property, we had sales people there to handle their
prospects. OUr closing percentage was extremely high. The brokers
liked the idea and they would hire drivers who more or less were P.R.
people. Paint a picture for them, without any high pressure kind of sell-
ing. And turn them over to the land salesmen when they got them to Cape
Coral and let them handle it. So it was almost simultaneous. Because
we felt we should work out of state, why not in state? And we dealt in-
to in state, well you are so close and they have a six month inspection
privaledge where they could come down any time within a period of six months
and if they didn't like the property, they could get rid of it. So this
way it was a double edged sword really because when they brought people
there,-they saw what they were buying and they knew what they were buying,
and it was definitely a sale there was nothing pending. because it was very tempting.
D--So it worked to the advantage of the corporation. Before we go any further,
is there a certain time that you have to be finished by?
E--I have to make a call pretty soon.
D--O.K. Whenever you do, just let me know. So, sales basically revolved
around sales people on site here in Cape Coral, owned and operated off-
ices throughout the country, plus broker throughout the country. Were
there any other ways of sales?
D-People would set a deposit down by Mail? Were they followed up then?
Did somebody come and visit them? Was it all by mail?
E--Well, it depends. We had local representation, we would turn it over to
the broker. He would take over. If not, we tried to handle it by mail,
or through the phone.
D--Was there.'.'.. It seems like an organization like this lived or died by
the sales volume. Was there always pressure to sell more and more and
more, or was it kind of just run on its own?
E--There was a tremendous amount of pressure at all times because you were
either pushing for sales or you were pushing for inventory, and we just
had so many problems in keeping up with the inventory, our sales were
exceeding what we could produce which forced the Rosen brothers to keep
buying and buying more property. Because as this machine began to roll,
it really rolled and whereas I can hear people saying, "Well, they are
going to fall flat on their face. Just give them time, they are going to fall
flat on their face." When that never happened they were disappointed
because insteadof falling flat on our face, we were just consuming so much
land. And trying to get it out on the marketplace. That was the kind of
pressure that we had. It was to keep up with the amount of buying that
we were getting. And I'd say that like any successful organization, you
are working under the gun and you do have quotas to meet and you do have
quotas to beat. And if that's pressure, so be it. But you're selling
land or you're selling cosmetics, you have certain goals that they set
and you have to achieve those goals. It depends on how much pressure
you are putting on yourself.
D-How long were you then the head of the nationwide Brokers?
E-About 12 years.
D-Until what year?
E--Well, I resigned in 1970.
D-After GAC had taken over.
D--Tell me a little bit about Leonard and Jack Rosen. What kind of people
were they, what motivated them?
E--They are pretty easy people to describe really. And they are difficult
to describe. Because if you worked with them, as I did, you became part
of their family. And being part of their family, just like big brothers,
or what have you, you got along, you didn't get along. You scrapped
with them. You were allowed to speak your peace with them. If they
didn't agree with you, they didn't agree. They never held anything
against you. If you didn't agree with them. But if you looked at
it from the outside, I gathered that they looked like two-headed monsters
that would just devour people. There is really no balance, because you either
knew them and you didn't know them. If you knew, them, you worked for
them, you did your job, you were part of the family. And their agina, put
on your pressures as part of the family. You are trying to move together.
Looking at it from the outside, they were not very popular people, because
they were not known.
D--How were they different from each other?
E--Well Jack was the... Well, I hate to call him a genius because it is not
a good word, but his marketing was not your typical marketing method. He
used unorthodox methods in his marketing becuase he was constantly searching
and he was writing the book as he went along. He was pretty much of an
introvert compared to Leonard. Leonard was extremely extroverted and had
a boundless amount of energy. They were both in that category. Leonard could
-not sit still, Jack could be very calm., Jack could put on a multi-mil-
lion dollar program and be as calm as you and I are discussing it. And
knowing full well that it was going to be a very successful campaign that
he just put on the table, without getting too excited about it. On the other
hand, Leonard would see this -_. program and he would jump on the desk.
They were just direct opposites. They didn't look alike, they didn't
act alike, but they were great guys., And they completmented each other,
all the way.
D-So if one of them had tried to run this thing they probably would have
gotten it pulled off or they kind of needed each other to complement
E-Let me say that fortunately, they had the combination. The inside man,
the outside man. Leonard was definitely the promoter. Leonard was
definitely the head, but he never did anything without telling his
brother Jack, On the surface it looked like he did everything.
But if he went to buy a piece of land, he'd ask Jack about it because Jack
had the marketing. And if Jack said I can't market it, Leonard knew that
there was nobody in this country that would be able to market it. And
that would be the end of that piece of property. There wasn't too many
times that Jack refused to come up with a marketing program.
D-People have said that within the organization, you were either a Leonard
man or a Jack man. Is that true?
E-In a sense, it was true and in a sense, it was not true. You have in any
large organization and one that's growing as fast as ours was, you have
problems of people reporting to whom. And it.... Well, that's why it
looked like Jack man/Leonard man. In essence there was no such thing.
Absolutely not. I worked very closely with Jack because I was in sales.
I was his eyes and ears of what the company wanted out there, through my
brokers, through my O&O offices. I was able to throw the information to
Jack as to what the public really was interested in so we could make sales.
So, by virtue of my activities, someone on the outside would say, "Well,
he's a Jack Rosen man." But that wasn't true because I spent as much
time with Leonard as I did with Jack and Leonard didn't give me direct
orders becuase it was not his ballywick. NowJack, he handled all the
marketing, so if he felt that he had a troubled area where he had peo-
ple reporting to him, somebody would go out and see what was wrong with
that area and what we could do to improve sales. Leonard wasn't into
that. So you'd say, "He was a Jack Rosen man." Well, that wasn't true,
because they both knew what was happening, and in my case, and I certain-
ly wasn't the catalyst, not by far, and I didn't try to be the catalyst.
It just happened that if Leonard wanted to look at a piece of land he'd
pull me aside and say, "Let's go look at this piece of land." To give
you an example. But anybody in sales, they fell into Jack Rosen, so
you were Jack Rosen's man, O.K. Now really, that's a bad rap.
D--Do you need to use the phone?
E-Yes. Thank you.
D--Junping back, a little bit. You talk about how you are always pressed
by the fact that mainly, you ran out of land to sell and they had to pur-
chase more. How does Gulf American go about purchasing land? Did Leo-
nard go out and look for land, or did he have someone going out and look-
ing for him?
E--Well, at the original outset, when Leonard came into our office, and was
interested in purchasing, the criteria was that he wanted land close to
a lot of land so that he could expand. He had originally come down here
looking at piece of land in A which is now Harbour Heights., And they
were developing Harbour Heights at the time he came down to look at it.
And he like the concept, but he couldn't expand on it. It was surrounded
by developed property and so when he saw this, where Ogden Phipps
own accreage next to this piece and farmers owned sections of land
contiguous-to his property, it was exactly what he wanted so he could expand.
So he was constantly negotiating buying up property., And then it was in
engineering. Getting an engineer to plan it,. This all takes time. At
that particular juncture in our career we-didn't have stringent require-
ments to get a piece of property. To get a deed today, it's a lengthy
situation. You'd never be able to do Cape Coral in the manner that we
D-With all the restrictions?
E-Right, and all the various agencies that you have to go through takes
time. ANd you would have never been able to accomplish what we did, to-
day, back then. It was just...well there was just no agencies for it.
And as we grew and General Development grew, Lehigh grew, well then
agencies started to step in. People started to take control. And
now you have the bureaucratic cushioning. You couldn't get off the
ground in two years today, to get a piece of ground.
D--When did it occur to Leonard and Jack, or was it always from the begin-
ning, to expand into other projects in the state, like Golden Gate, & Remuda.
E--Well, I'm really hazy about this. You see, you start as we did from]
scratch, you formulate a plan, take today's prices and go on the road.
That road's not going to built, five years down the road, it's going
to be built. That canal is not going to be dug the day you took the
price on digging a canal. Maybe five years down the line, that canal
would be dug. Maybe ten years down the road, that canal would be dug,
that road would be put in. Int the interim period, prices change. The
price of roads change, the price of digging canals change, labor changes.
They change all that. Now when you originally are looking at a piece of
land to dig, you have cost of the land, plus your engineering, plus your
marketing, plus your profit and your development cost and you go. That
is if you are capable of doing everything there. But if your are into the
future, then you are playing in the dark. And so we needed something to
offset this high cost of now developing these canals that we already sold.
And now developing these major road network and the thought was that let's
get some property where we won't promise them a city. We won't promise
them homes. We will sell it in acreage and take our markup to help off-
set the cost of this sudden huge cost that is put on our hands. And we
were scratching heads again to continue to do business. Although you had
prie increase, the price increase were not enough to take care of the
full development. And so the birth of Golden Gate. And again I'm
hazy because it was a cost factor and it was an inventory factor.
And they were both coupled together. However, we ran into our problems
at Golden GAte. Because in Golden Gate we needed a drainage system. And
although the preliminary engineering showed that it was low
land it didn't reveal that it was a heavy rock.base there. And so instead
of a major network of roads we needed a major network of canals that
would drain the property so that people could build on it. I guess we
make Kennecutt Copper very rich with all the dynamite we bought from them.
And it was during the period of the Cuban invasion and here we are blast-
ing night and day. We were not welcome in Naples period. *But with
all the dynamite we were doing, they thought it was World War III in
their backyard. So it just, although the profit was higher in Golden
Gate it helped offset the high cost of development that we had here.
D-So Golden Gate, from what you are saying, a major motivation for going
into Golden Gate was to gain some more profit, to balance out where you
were having a shortfall to cover increased costs of development. I never
heard that. That's interesting. And, was that true of the other?
E--The other, Remuda Ranch.
D-Where is that located?
E-It's just due east of Golden Gate. And I remember at Remuda Ranch we promised
nothing. No roads, nothing. And if there was water on your property,
there was water on your property. It was strictily a hunting preserve.
Strictly recreational. We built two lodeges and the location of the two
lodges was probably the finest fishing in the country. Right in that area.
D-Where are those two lodges? Are they on Tamiami Trail there?
E--One of them is on Tamiami Trail and the other is north. You can see it
from the road. And that was the hunters, the birdwatchers, what have you.
And people who wanted to go boating would stay at the southern lodge.
D--Is that southern Lodge still there today?
D--What is it called?
E--I think Remuda .Ranch, is all I know. I think the University of Miami Marine
biology bought one.
D-And then they purchased land in Polk county? Was that after or before?
E--About the same time. We got involved of this concept of the equestrian
trails, hunting, fishing. And the reception that we had was just phenom-
inal. Here I am talking to a person. I'm saying that you could see the
properties by jeep or by swamp buggies or air boats. And it was just
great. You do have facilities that we could stay at? Yes. That's great.
You have horseback riding? Yes. That's great. Be able to fish? Yes.
And we offered this piece in Polk county and when it began it was the same
operation. There was the river with excellent fishing. It was next to a
bombing range which was a preserve. And 'the game' up there was
incredible. "The finest hunting in the state of Florida. Right
there. Right off the Avon bombing range.You name14.f It was just magnifi-
cient, and we started to grow as such. And then we experimented build-
ing some permanent structure. Giving people a little more. I -am not
an outdoorman. The only woods I go into are when my ball slices
into the woods on a golf course. But I'll tell you. I really enjoyed
it up there.
D-so those pieces of property were not intended to be housing subdivisions. They
were intended to be recreation. They were purely a place where somebody
would go for the day or when they wanted to camp.
E--Whenever they wanted. They brought their trailer in there.
D--They were not intengin to build houses on those places.
E--No. But you could. You could if you wanted and there was some of them
who built. But again, you know, there was a definite purpose. There
you had horseback riding, skeet-shooting, fishing, boasting, hunting.
And there was a big market for it. You wouldn't think so, but there
was a big market. There probably is today.
D--I read something in connection with Gulf American's purchasing -of land. And a
guy by the name of Bob Henshaw, have you heard that name?
E--Yes. I know Bob.
D--What is the story? Did he do a lot of purchasing land for them?
E-Well, Bob came in rather late. And....
D--When you say rather late, do you mean mid-sixties?
E-Yes. We had already purchase Golden Gate. We had already purchased
R ermuda. I don't know what he was involved in. He may have been
involved in Polk County. I'm not sure.
D--Does he live in the area here?
E--Last I heard, Bob was in, what's that place where that guy is hiding out.
E--Costa Rica. He's down there.
D-Back to the sales thing again., Was Golden Gate land and Rlermuda land
sold to the same brokers, the same organizations who handled Cape Coral?
E-Not always. Some, not always. OUrs was a specialized package. And you
had to have your own sales force. We felt very strongly about this. We
felt you couldn't be a master of two, because you'd get confused in the
middle of something and then you wound up with nothing. And so we estab-
lished ground rules for everything. fWho would handle Golden Gate, who
would handle Cape Coral. But in special interests we had very success-
ful brokers in Cleveland and Chicago who had done a great job with Cape
Coral and knew and understood what we wanted to do. They would open up
a separate office for the sale of Golden Gate. In that case, we
crossed over the line. But in other case, you were exclusively Golden
Gate or exclusively Cape Coral.
D--How wer.sales people trained? Did they just hire already trained sales
E--Probably the most extensive and elaborate training program. We would
interview people here in Florida. It was really the base, the hub of
everything. We would hire people who had no experience whatsoever, in
land sales. We would put them through a school, get them a real estate
license. Once they accomplished the license they would acquire our pro-
duct knowledge. At which time they went to school, they were graded and
put out to pasture or we would sentthem various places. Some of them
went right into management, some of them working on the line. The
attrition that we had in sales personnel was 'rather high because any-
body who was going to go into the land business would come to our company
and steal our personnel. And the attrition rate was extremely high up
there. By virtue, many started and not too many stayed. This land
development started upstate in the Cape Canaveral area. And we called
it Rock City. They came on strong, stole a lot of our personnel. And
bombed right out. There was another one, I can't think of the name, over
here in Tampa. It was pretty waterfront property. It's just beginning
to come into its own. They came out strong, they ran out of money. And
they were dormant for a while. Several of them like that. They would
come and raid our people. Because we had the best training and the most
talented people in the industry.
D--IHow many people would be trained in a typical year? Do you have any idea?
D-This may be anther question that you mAght not know, but maybe at the
height of Gulf American's activity here in Cape Coral, how many sales-
people do you think were working here, just on site?
E--No. Many of them, a lot of them. We were flyin in 1500 people a week,
in addition to bussing people, and we were running three parties a day.
It took a lot of personnel with days off and all. The actual number....
D--Do you remember anything about the number of brokers nationwide, or was
it just all over the place?
D--So if you were coming on all the time and then just leaving .
E--Right. In the brokerage division, the attrition rate was extremely
high. Because they wanted to get in on it, but didn't want to put the
effort in, didn't know how to put the effort in. You couldn't get the
right people to run it. And we just kept replenishing the absent ones.
D--While the onsite sales was going on over here at Golden Gate and stuff
like that, what part of the sales and follow up was done in Miami, the
E--O.K. All the administrative aspects of our production was at the Miami
office. There we also had phonerooms. There are phonerooms broken down
into a couple of areas. One, they would chase delinquent accounts. One,
they would sell new accounts. And they would book flights. Any promo-
tion that we'd run we'd test the fastest reaction that we got. We'd do
it right on the property, we'd do it on the phone. Mail order was too
slow. And when we tested a product we tested it concept. It was full
force. You never used the word test. It was a program. And many times
you'd used the word test and people said I don't like the idea, so it's
not going to work. But if I came out and said, "Here's our new program."
Then it's do or die, and they would give it their best shot, and we'd get
a good evaluation of what we wanted to expand on. But the two best areas
to test were on the phone, because it was fast and easy and you'd get to
talk to people.
D--Were their quite a few phones there? Was it a huge room? If a new stra-
tegy came up, would that have to run by Jack first?
E--It was usually developed by Jack.
D--In other words he would come up with the ideas or he would hear about them.
E--Well, people would bring him their concepts of what they thought would help
improve, myself involved. I had dozens of men floating all over the coun-
try going into the brokers' offices, going into our own offices. And all
the managers reporting in. When you are working along and just come ac-
cross something. You would just put it in.
D--What were some of the new things that you tried? Give an example of some-
E--You know. You're going back to the beginning for instance. You are all
neophytes and trial and error and I had no total experience going into
the home & making sales. I'd never had that experience in my whole life.
But nonetheless, I opened a office in New York for the corporation. And
I'm training people on going into the home and selling a product. I
had knowledge of the product, I knew how to close the sale. What dif-
ference does it make if you're fifty miles away or three miles away. You
have a product, you have a presentation, you have a format you do, you ask
for the money and that's the end of that. You learn something. I have
all these leads. And you pass them out to the sales men
and you help,. set up appointments for them to go into the homes. And
then they don't show up and you don't know that they don't show up until
the next morning when they come to report to you. ANd they give you
leads back, nobody home, they wouldn't answer. And you have to overcome
that problem because you don't know if he's telling you the truth or if
he's not telling the truth. Maybe he stopped and never made it to that
point. And so you get together with your supervisor. You have a problem.
You're not getting into enough homes. What do you do about it? Well,
you call 15 or 20 minutes before the man is supposed to arrive at the
home. Mr. JOnes will be there in about 10 minutes and it's very impor-
tant that he call me. Will he please call the office? That did two
things. Number one: nobody is going to turn down a very important call
for a person who is out making a living at night. They would turn their
light on and they would be waiting for them. So he gets into the house.
Number two: we found out if he got there or not. That's how things
evolve. That's how you develop your genius.
D--I love it. Who are some of the best salespeople? Did some of them go o
on to bigger and better things?
E--Too enormous to mention. They graduated from thefinest university in the
world as far as salesmen are concerned. And they went on to bigger and
D--Were there very many women salespeople or was it mostly all men?
E--On the lines, there were very few. We didn't have any or we had a few.
But they were devoured. It was a chauvinistic operation. And although
women would make good salespeople, that was not my particular function.
I was not here on the property. Based on my experience in the field,
brokers hired women and we had women closer at these various dinner
parties we had, and I thought they would stand right up to a man anytime.
So, although I was characterized as being chauvinistic, I would hire a
woman in a heartbeat. Because I found that some of them were more tena-
cious than men. They would get on your back and they wouldn't get off.
And they were really hungry. A couple of good hungry women. VEry good.
But on the line at the properties, they just got buried. The men there
were much too strong. And they couldn't compete with their tricks that
the guys would pull on them. But I found them good in the field.
D-Were there particular audiences or kind of people that were targeted as
"These are people that we are going to go after." You know the most
receptive in who we are going to sell lots to or were there certain
people that you steered away from.
E--Well, the blue collar worker was our prime. In today's market, he'd be
junior yuppie. But back thenanybody. Oh I'd say, 30 and up was a good
market. They were the ones that were trying to get ahead in terms of
building something for the future. That was a good market.
D--So the price of the property was really geared towards...
E--middle America, really.
D--Were there any people that were steered away? Some people said that
on site if blacks came there or minorities, they were steered in other
E-I don't use the word steered. We, the original concept was that this
was a causasean development and restricted to caucation. It wasn't
until we sent a brochure to NBC, to buy time on the Dave Garroway Show.
They saw that caucasean clause. We couldn't buy time.
D--When was that? Do you remember about when that was?
E--It was early. That was early in the program. I'd say '58 or '59. We
were not off the ground. So we had to drop theAclause from our contract.
Which meant that the gate was open, that's all there was to it. There
was quite a bit of controversy, in regard to it. This was not dictated
by the corporation originally. And this was not with the blessing of
Jack and Leonard. They were not prejudiced people, not at all. And
we did have a promoter who was brilliant. If you told him "I'd like to
build the finest ice cream sundae, tell me how you do it." And he would
go out and buy the finest piece of crystal and put the ice cream in it.
He would buy scoops in the right proportion to mold right into that
crystal. And he would build that sundae from the bottom right up. And
he would sprinkle it with nuts and whip cream and put a cherry on top.
The guy who wrote that. He always had to f--- it up by putting an olive
on top of the cherry. And he was always this way. He came up with this causasean
clause that and it was bitterly fought with the Rosens. They were
against it, but he fought and he was a most persuasive man, too. He had
to be to overcome the Rosens. You couldn't win an argument with him.
His concept was that we'd build the yacht and racquet club. And in order
to be a property owner you had to be a member of the club which was an
approved membership from the corporation. So most definitely, if you
were black, you were not going to get in. That went by the wayside.
There wer sales people who were prejudiced walking around today. They
are selling automobiles or whatever they are doing, they are still that
way. There is still the same prejudice inside of them. They had it be-
fore they came with us, they'll have it for the rest of their life. Those
people are all over the world. You can't be a crusader and they shucked them out.
But those same people that are prejudice, Italians, Jews, whatever, if
you're of prejudice nature, you'll find something. Those things exist.
And the amount of them that we went through. I'm not whitewashing Gulf
American, don't get me wrong, because we started that bullshit with the
causasean contract and by putting a caucation clause in our brochure.
And it was not brought to our attention until we couldn't get on with
NBC. Unless you take that off, I don't care how much you are going to
pay them, you are not going to get on. ANd which was nice. The Rosens
were delighted it happened. They weren't delighted to destroy all the
brochures, don't get me wrong, but deep down, they were not that type of
people. Jack nor Leonard had no kind of prejudice, as far as I'm con-
cerned. And I spoke to them, I ate with them, I knew them intimately,
if anything, they were the most liberal people that I ever met. So, yes,
those things did exist.
D-I guess you don't want to mention who that was.
E-He's dead now, let him rest in peace.
D-O.K. Fair enough. Gulf was accused by the land sales board and all
these things of lot switching and all this other stuff.
E--Yes. That was avery dumb thing that they did. And again, the same guy.
We ran into a problem. We went out building roads like crazy. We went
out digging canals like crazy. We needed road base material. Our engin-
eer found some. But he found it an area that was already sold for home-
sites. And he came to us and said, "If I could take that out it will save
us X amount of dollars." He made a very feasible presentation. I was
not there when he made his presentation. Nobody in sales was there when
he made his presentation.
D--Vho was that that made the presentation?
E--His name was Tom Weber. The ice cream man was there. Leonard was there.
I wasn't there but I could see it happening. "Sure, that's no problem.
If we swap it over to here and move those people right there, a half a
mile away, we give them the same property, they will never know the dif-
ference." Well, in an expedient way he answered the question. He's a
very expedient man, you know. He put the olive and the onion on top of
the cherry and f--- up the hold thing. And we didn't know. We still
didn't know. I didn't know. We discovered it when people started coming
to the property. People started saying, "Here's my property, why is it
there?" Well, there's not that many people that it happened to, but just
enough and one of them made a complaint. It went into the land board and
it was proven that we did it. By the time that they proved that we did it,
the problem came to my end, in the sales department, how do we handle
those situations? We would bring people down and show them what they had
and what they were going to get. Either they'd get their money back or they
would take what we would give them. Our cancellations were minimal. People
did not want to take the offer, which is a very simple thing to do. But like
I said, this guy could just do it to you. Then we got trapped into that.
We paid our penalty. We paid it dearly. Because from that, bad things
started to happen to us, from the institutions. I remember the air was so
thin, everybody was looking through it, none of them were looking at the
vast empire. You're at an empire that says, "I have a million miles of
road to build, and I'm in a definite selling business. And if you put the
equations on me, I'm not going to come out with the right numbers." And there
is no way you are going to make this equate the right numbers. Which was
wrong, dead wrong. Be he created that. And on the surface you could say
that's the truth, without going into the numbers. The marginal profits
were there. The numbers were there from the development. The bonds were there
for the development, and the people were coming. So what you see today, just
after the fact that it was right and it was going to be right. The worst
thing in the world that they did was to dig all the canals and to build all the
roads, because all the roads are grown over with weeds by virtue of no use.
And taxpayers are going to pay a hell of a price to get it back. Which comes
first, the chicken or the egg. The land board says, "You promised these roads
in three years, now build the roads." What have you got? Double expenditure.
Having not done it that way, maybe did it a little more orderly fashion.
We're going to build 40, 50, 100 miles of road and put that money in
escrow. Put it into bonds, good safe bonds somewhere. As the roads are
needed, the county will take over and put them in. As they are needed.
Now you're not going back., you're not rehashing and doing a double cost.
D-If you had done it right when it was needed.
E--Exactly. But all you have to do is put that money into escrow somewhere.
Into bonds. Thoses bonds would have made more money. Economically feas-
ible. But you have factions that were uncooperative. Did not want
to see Gulf American prosper. They wer anti any movement that you wanted
to make in that direction because of our business. Becasue of our bold-
ness. Because we were the forerunners. And the tough guys. Really if
we had the type commissioner today that we had back then, I think that
what I just said about putting money into escrow or bonds and use as
needed, would have made a healthier county, healthier Cape Coral. But
nobody wanted to cooperate, with those Jew boys, really.
D--Was there a sense of that?
--Oh sure. Oh hell yes. Are you kidding? They said we were prejudice.
The townspeople don't wnat to talk about how they felt. They don't want
to talk about how they felt about us. I hink that they probably wish
to hell they had never heard the name Rosen in Collier County. You know,
it's their little playground. But you could almost settle the national
debt with the prople who live there in Port Royal and through that area.
What do they wnat with.blue-collars?
D--Let me ask you a couple of quick questions and then we'll be done. Do
you feel like the price that was put on lots, some people said it was too
low, that it should have been a little bit higher priced to help cover
cost and stuff like that.
E--Well, as I told you, we didn't. Based on the cost that day, what we did,
and I can attribute to this because I was part of the committee. And
the formula was a very simple formula. We took the price of the land,
took the price of development, took the cost of marketing and we took
our GNA. We took all of our costs, threw them in, and multiplied by 5.
That's how we came out with the price of the property. And based on that
we would make a lot of money IF you built the road that day, and dug the
canal that day. They didn't underprice the property. Who in the hell had
a crystal ball for five years from now how much it was going to cost?
It.could have been less, it could have been more. It was never less. It
wound up more. But who in the hell had the crystal ball?
D--You mentioned the committee that made a lot of the decisions, or atleast
talked about things. Who were some of the folks that were on that?
E-The planning committee? I was on it from the sales side. Charlie Hep-
ner was on it for advertising. 'Sol Sandler from administration. He was
a brother-in-law. Kenny Schwartz, who wah the number two man. Tom Weber
from engineering. I think that's about it originally. Later on, you know
Bob Finkernagel started to come in and other people. Not on a permanent
basis. THe original hardcore was advertising and sales, administration,
D-One other question. I read in one of the books that some of the sales
rooms here at the Cape were bugged so the sales management could kind of
keep an eye and know what people were thinking as they talked and closed
the sale and stuff like that. Was there any truth to that?
E--It evolved into that. That was not the purpose of it. That was not the
"purpose of it. I know what the purpose of it was cause I helped institute it.
-I felt very badly when I found out other things were happening with it. What was
to be the best trained people in the country as far as land sales were
concerned. It was our intention that we had the product, we had the
people to promote the product. We thought that we had the best advertising
people in the world. We thought we had the best product in the world.
We wanted the best salespeople. Now, with all the training that they had,
we never knew what they hell they were telling the customer., We just
never knew. So that if a guy was in talking wth people and we listened
in, maybe sales were in a slump. Is he deviating from the story that he
is supposed to tell? Is he not giving them a full tour? What is he doing
that is wrong? Why is he wasting that sale when he could be making it?
O.K. So, management listened and they lost the sale, they knew why he
lost the sale. They would take him intb his office and say had you set
up a point here and listened to the people suggestions, you might have
made that sale. It gets turned around that the mant just got a lecture.
If management thought they were going to blow the sale, they would run
in before he blew the sale and close the sale. Actually it was for us
to know that the training of the people was on a continuous basis.And
not the eavesdropping. But you get a sales manager who's aggressive
and he's working on his override. He says O,K., but he's going to blow
that sale and I know that he's going to blow that sale, he's talking too
much. He won't let those people talk, he doesn't know what the hell he's
doing. So he goes in and takes over and that's it. But, you see, if we
were selling jewelry and we were in some big jewelry store like Tiffany's.
And you were in there with your girlfriend and you are going to buy her
a very expensive bracelet and the price is just a little high for you, or
whatever, you are hesitant. This T.O. business. That's where it came from,
the jewelry business.
D-What does T.O. stand for?
E-Somebody takes over. Before you know it there's a slipped movement and
there is another guy in there. ANd he is now manuevering you around and
he closes the sale when the other guy couldn't. So it's as old in the
sales business as the hills. It wound up in the land business. It winds
up in car dealers. There is a T.O. man if you can't make the sale, that
guy will. So looks bad for us, because we are in the land business, and
that's not supposed to happen in the land business. It can happen in a
jewelry store, but not in the land business.
D--When did that begin? Do you remember?
E-That was very late and didn't last long. The land board found out about
it, and put the squash on it. It was not a hidden thing. There was a
pronounced speaker up there. You almost had to blind not to see the
thing. It wasn't a little bug. It was a really speaker up there.
D--IWhat was the final position that you held with the company? Were you
vice-president of sales?
D-If you could point to one person, besides Leonard and Jack as the most
important reason why they corporation succeeded, who would you pick?
E-There was no one person. There was the Kenny Schwartz's, the Charlies
Hepner's, the Eddie Pacelli's. There was no one person besides the
Rosens. No one. And when it came time for GAC to chose a person from
within, that was the most difficult decision that they had to make, be-
cause there was no one person, who was that well-rounded in all aspects
of the business. You were in sales, you were in sales. If you were in
advertising, you were in advertising. When you are in finance, you are
in finance. The Rosens had all of the answers. They had all of the
strings. We had the capable people, but we didn't practice the whole
operation. They were not out to develop Lee loacocca's out of all of
us. They were out to develop a strong sales personality in me, a strong
advertising personality in Hepner, a strong administrative man in Kenny
Schwartz. You were slotted and you did. Adn you lived and you died by
what you did. When it came to going to the Ford Motor Company and
borrowing 25, 40, 50 million dollars, we were never privy to that. We would find
out later, but we never knew how to negotiate deal like that.
D-So besides the Rosens, if I had to find out a little bit about the fin-
anceof the company, who would you suggest that I talk to?
E-Joe Maddlone is one., In Miami he was, on a smaller basis, I'd say Joe
"Maddlone., He's somewhere in Miami. Sol Sandier in Hollywood. Two of your
best people are dead, Jack and Leonard. Leonard financed by the seat
of his pants. Grabbed wherever he could. Because we were so new. Who
S in the hell knew what to do with financing? I mean we went with Pritzger, he owns
Hyatt Hotels. Which is one of the richest men in the country. We
borrowed money from him. We borrowed money from John MacArthur. We'd
borrow money from anybody that we could.
D-So they'd go to a lot of private sources that were not banks and lending
E--Banks were very short on us. They, we were too new. They were too con-
servative. But John D. MacArthur, he'd make a deal. He'd make a deal.
He'd probably loan you 10 million and give you nine. Four points over
prime.He'd have a dog piece of land you'd take as part of it. It .was wild days.
there was no.....YOu couldn't point and say will there's P6rt Charlotte. They
turned pennies into billions. YOu had nobody to point to. The banks
were too conservative for that. They would loan you a few hundred thou-
sand, but they needed millions. When you areAselling and doing 75, 150,
200 million a year. So we finally found financing where they financed
75% of our book.
D-Let me ask one other question. Do you have any idea where Tom Weber is
E-Last I heard he was out in Arizona or Nevada. No.
D-That seems to be the answer I'm getting. Nobody knows. Well, thank you
very much for the interview. I appreciate it and I've learned a lot.