This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limits the amount of materials that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contacat the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
D--This is an interview with Charles K. IIepner in his home in Miami. The
date is January 3, 1988. It's about 1:20 in the afternoon. The inter-
viewer is David Dodrill.
Charlie, tell me a little bit about you personal history. A little bit
about your background before you came to Gulf American. Like when and
where you were you were born, and your educational background.
C--I was born in New York City in 1923. When I was a year old, my folks
moved to Detroit. ANd we lived there until I was 12 years old. And
we moved to upstate New York. And when I was 15 my father was killed
in a fire. And I had to go to work actually at that point to help sup-
port my mother and my younger brother. And this was in a town called
SouthFallsburg,New York. And we lived there for another year or two,
and then moved to Brooklyn. I finished high school in Brooklyn and
started college. The City 'College of New York. First semester was
during the war. This was 1942, 43. And I was inducted into the service
in February of 43. Spent three years in the service, came out went on the
G.I. bill to New York University. And I did a course in marketing adver-
tising, B.S. degree. Got out of school and went to work for a friend
of mine in the advertising business at a small ad agency. And worked
with him as he grew and we finally became partners after. And that
agency....Well, we lost our largest account in the year '52. Practically
went broke. He wanted to quit. I didn't want to have a block my first
business venture in life. So we made a deal. I sold my part of the
agency for one buck and promised to stay with him until we got the
agency on its feet and this was a good deal. He had the whole ball of
wax and he stuck with it. And we built it back. And one of the ac-
counts that we acquired, actually a piece of it, was called Charles An-
AntellWell, we got the account and it was either 1952 or '53, Charles
Antellwas Jack and Leonard Rosen. They had a hair preparation business.
This was a very famous product in those days, in the early 50's.. It was
It was partly because it contained Lanolin. Leonard Rosen was an old
carnival patron. Leonard used to go out on the road to carnivals and
pitch this Lanolin which he'd take to people. He had a Lanolin product
which he'd take to carnivals. In fact, Leonard, probably no earlier than
two months before he died somebody was in the office in Las Vegas and I
don't know what started him off. But Leonard got into his old Lanolin
pitch. Actually it wasn't lanolin. It was a Rodgers silver. 1846
silver. I guess he used to sell silver. Leonard used to sell all kinds
of things in carnivals. And he did this carnival pitch which took about
a half hour. And it was as thought he had done it yesterday. He didn't'
miss a beat. lie didn't miss a word. The timing was right. The was he
went through this thing, you could actually see the crowd in front of him
the way he did it. He was that good at them. But Leonard used to pitch
his lanolin. I remember back in 1949, I didn't know them at that time.
On 49th street in Manhatten between 5th and 6th avenues. There used to
be a bunch of stores in there and I can remember they used to have a
store where they did this lanolin. A crowd used to gather around and
they do this half hour pitch on Lanolin and the virtues of lanolin and
then they would just sell it to people right there. They'd pull them
off the sidewalk. That was probably Leonard. But I didn't know him
then. Well, anyhow they built a good company, across the counter pro-
duct, Charles Antel Formula 9 was the end product. They had shampoo,
they had hair spray, they had all the hair products. The agency that I
worked with in New York, we heard that Antel was looking for an ad
agency so we went to Baltimore and made a presentation in front of Jack
and Leonard and they gave us a little piece of the account. They gave
us the product to sell, liquid make-up. Well, at that point, nobody in
the world had sold liquid make-up. ANd they had like a million bottles
on the shelf that were drying out, they couldn't sell it. Nobody wanted
it. There was no exceptions. All the women at that time used powder or
pancake makeup. Liquid make-up was revolutionary. Nobody wanted to use
it. So they gave us this account. They gave us the pitch of what a great
product it was. What we did was we created a commercial and a little showLate Ernie
The bottom line is we made a big success out of this liquid make-up. We
created a commercial. I did actually. I was in television. In those
days I was a T.V. hand, film director. And I created a commercial with
the use of lights and make-up techniques. And in one minute it took just
a very ordinary looking woman with some crow's feet and whatnot and by
using this liquid make-up, and a little liner that Ernie invented, with-
in one minute, just a very ordinary, almost a homely looking woman, she
became gorgeous. In one minute, right on camera. And it was the clever
use of lights. Where we started is where we ended. But right on camera
with that liquid make-up it erased the lines and the whole thing. It
became a tremendous success. We sold it, we got more of the account.,
"the agency kept the account for a year. Leonard was a verybombastic guy
got into a beef with my boss. Pulled the account from the agency. And
Leonard sold me on leaving the agency. I'd been there like 7 years.
And I didn't have any remorse in leaving at that point.
D--What was the name of that agency?
C--Product Services. And Leonard convinced me to leave the agency and come
with Charles Antel as a director of advertising, which I did. That's
what got me in with the Rosen brothers.
D--About what year was that?
C--That was in 53 or 54. 53 I think. And I joined them and stayed with them
and made all their commercials with Charles Antell We had these long half-
hour pictures and had these one minute spots. And then he had other pro-
ducts. Children's vitamins. I did a commercial with a little seven year
old girl for these kiddie vitamins. And that little 7 year old girl was
Patty Duke. So, she was a precocious little thing. We did commercials
with Mickie Mantle. We worked with Bill Stern. We worked with a lot
of people.So that's how I got with them. Through the advertising busi-
ness. AFter I joined them and stayed with them for a lot of years. WAs
there at the end.
D--Tell a little bit more about that time period before they sold Charles
Antell. What was happening? Did they jst get bigger and bigger?
C--Well, what happened was Antellwas struggling. And this product that we
took on was such a big success that it got Antel back on its feet. And
because of the popularity of the liquid make-up, their other products
caught on. They had caught on before, but they caught on even larger.
And the company was.doing rather well. And the Rosen brothers because of
their background and all, Leonard came up to me. We set up an agency
there was a cousin of his called Paul Venzi. We had offices on Madison
Avenue. That's when we left Product S services. So we did all of the Antel
advertising out of there. In addition, we started doing mail order pro-
ducts. And we had just a myriad of mail order products. All different
kinds of things. Some of them good, some of them bad. Films they saw
on T.V. And we'd sell them in the paper. We were 510 tiddison, then we
moved up to 57th and Madison. And we had a in-house ad agency. And
Leonard was the one I worked with. I just met Jack once or twice. lHe
wasn't as involved in New York. And after a year or so of this, this
was like '56, Leonard got sick. Crippling arthritis. He had had it for
many years. And it just hit him and put him on his back. So, Leonard
was very sick. He was in the hospital in Baltimore. And then he went
to Florida to recuperate. This is in late '56, early '57. And while
in Florida Leonard met Milt Mendetlhn. Milt was a developer of a part
we call Harbour Heights. Somewhere near Port Charlotte. And Leonard,
with Milt, I guess they looked around had gotten with a real estate bro-
ker named Reynolds in Ft. Myers, Bill Reynolds. And they decide on the
first track which was 2200 acres. If we go through this stuff I'll show
you. There was a place called Red Fish Point'. The day we met Milt, we
were there with mIlt at Harbour Heights. We had an appointment to meet
a photographer at Cape Coral, which was not then Cape Coral, it was just
acreage at this point. We met the photographer who was also a pilot.
He wanted somebody to go up there with him and take pictures. I went with
him and we got up over Red Fish Pointe and he said, "Can you fly a plane?"
I said that I had flown in the army. He said, "O.K. Fly it. I'm going
to take some shots now." So I flew the plane while he took the first
shots of Red Fish POinte. And that's where it started. This was in
'57. In the end of '58 they sold Antel. They sold Charles Antel to the
Babbitt who played around with the product and eventually discarded it.
And the Rosens name took theri monies and money of investors primarily
in Baltimore. They set up. Her's where they sold stock as a private
comapny. Eventually they went public. But they sold stock and they sold
units actually a number of investors in Baltimore. Primarlily in Balt-
imore. And that's how they raised the initial capital to start Gulf
D--Was it just an investment company? Did it have a name?
C--Well, they did, I don't recall what it was. The first name for the com-
pany was Gulf Guarantee Land and Title Company. That's what we started
out as. And that was the beginning.
D--How much money do you think they started with originally?
C--Maybe a million, maybe two. It's hard to say. I don't recall.
D--Describe a little bit your job when you worked for the Rosens when they
started Gulf. What was your job with the corporation.
C--Well, I was still advertising. I was director of advertising. I made
their first training films. Like a five hour film, LIke a class within
the business. Incredible training film that we did. It just covered all
points. WE actually did a presentation in the film. We had, I don't
remember who we hired, Jack something. A comedian. lie worked in the
big deal with Jack Lemon. Something Tiger. I can't think of it. But
anyhow we hired him and used him and made the training film and artwork
making a lot of these brochures. I worked with'Milt on it. Milt did
some of the artwork, I did some of it. And these diaramas. And did the
film they use now. It's called "A View of Excellence." It's a script
film. So in the beginning I did all the advertising and the film.
And by that time I was working pretty closely with Jack Rosen. Now when
they started Gulf, Leonard went down to Florida. Leonard was involved
basically in the development. We hired Tom Weber. And Leonard worked
with Tom, so Leonard was involved in the development. Leonard was in-
volved in th-financing. And Leonard was involved in the administrative
operations. Hie hired a guy named JiiM Layddn who ran the administration.
You know our contract processing and all. This was in Florida. The
operation was splict. In Baltimore Jack still remained. And Jack was
in charge of the sales and the marketing. And I worked with Jack. They
sort of set up their own camps. Lenard had his guys and Jack had his guys.
And in Florida Leonard worked with Kenny Schwartz who was the general
manager of property and working with Kenny was Ed Pacelli. And in the
main office in Miami we had Jim Layd4eniar I forget the other one who
came along. I was still in New York, but I spent like 3 or 4 days in
Baltimore working with Jack, and then working in New York. And I set
up my own little headquarters in the New York sales office. And Jack
got me involved in recruiting. We were building an organization and we
were looking for personnel in a lot of different areas. And New York was
a good market. So we ran ads. And I became, in addition to advertising
I became the recruiter. I interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people.
In the early days, if we hired a.thousand people, I probably hired 800 of
the thousand. I interviewed that many people. I went through a lot of
D--That was for what position, just sales, or just everything?
C--Those were for sales managers, for trainers, for broker recruiters, for
just about anything. Whatever we needed, I would be there. What happened
because of that, is I got pushed to sales, and I forget how it happened,
but at some point I had this very high-powered sales manager in the New
York office who did a good job. Very extroverted guy. And I forget how
it was, and every other week he threatened to quit, and at one point I
finally said, "This is resignation." Much to his surprise, and I think
by default I became sales manager., I just took over. I didn't act close
to sales, but I just took over and I started running the sales and it
ran pretty well.
D--'hen was this?
C--Oh, I don't know. '59, '60 somewhere in there. So anyhow, I was in sales.
I still did the advertising, but then I started getting busy and I hired
a guy to take over what I was doing and his name was Bill Baron. He
was a sweet guy. And Bill remained with the company for a lot of years.
lie remained with the company for maybe another ten or twelve years. lie
remained actually with GAC after they took over. And Bill did all the
film work. We had a lot of film work that we did. So I was then sales.
AndI guess from there, I just kept building in sales. I started out in
the New York office and then at some point Jack put me in charge of that
whole Northeast region. We had a couple of regional managers and x number
of offices in New England, whatever, And then I started commuting in 1962 to
Baltimore. I spent 3 or 4 days a week in Baltimore. And at that point,
I grew to a point where I was in charge of all the company and broker
offices across the country, except for Florida. Florida was a separate
sales division and the international was a separate sales division at that
point. So that brings us up to about middle 60's. '62 to '63. And at
that point I had worked with Leonard in the earlier years and then I was
working almost primarily with Jack. But I mentioned that each man had a
group of guys. And maybe at this point they were total opposites. They
had opposite personalities. If they wer similar they probably wouldn't
have been that successful., The fact that they both had their own strong
points and weak points and were totally opposite people. What made a to-
tal combination. Leonard was a total extrovert., Leonard was maybe good
at getting a group of people in the office to talk aobut something, end-
ing up getting excited and jump up on the desk. I've seen him do it.
Leonard would go for the dramatic all the time. Leonard was an extro-
vert. Totally, he was an orthodox Jew and a very religious Jew. Until
he got sick and died in Las Vegas, Leonard would say his morning prayers.
There is anme for it. Well, they have this thing where they would wrap
this leather strap around their arm, and then they had another box with,
J "a leather strap that they would put on their head, under there Yamikah, and
they'd say morning prayers, Leonard, until he was 72 years old, everyday
would recite his prayers. He did this every single morning. I would seee
him do it. When I went on the road with Leonard and we stayed in the
same room, he'd say I'll be with you in a few minutes and then he would
jsut go in the corner and say his prayers. Put on his paraphanalia and
say his prayers every morning.. Jack did it also. Both of them. They
wer orthodxo Jews, but....And Leonard, they were both active in the
fundraising, but Leonard far more than Jack., Leonard was chair on a lot
of the Isreal pipe drillings. Leonard was a strong, strong worker. Jack
was devoted, but did not spend as much time as Leonard did.
D--Were these just funds for Isreal, or were they scholarships?
C--Yes, anything. Leonards got plaques on the wall for scholarships. Begin
named Leonard the mand of the year back there. Leonard was a perilous
worker. Jack gave a lot of money. And Jack was involved, but not as
much as Leonard. So he was an orthodox Jew, but he was a very unorthodox
person., Leonard would come to a board meeting in tennis shorts and sneak-
ers. And not even think about it. And not do it on purpose. That was
just Leonard. Leonard could be meeting in a hotel room with some of us,
which happened, and be naked from the waist down because he was going to
take a shower or something and he would walk out of the room and talk to
(' the fellas, and Leonard was s Aht I remember this one day in the
hotel and the maid would walk into the room at that point. Well, he
didn't know she was in there, in Leonard screamed. But that was Leonard.
Leonard was a hard driving guy, he was a professional boxer. When he was
in the carnival thing. He had fought maybe 20, 30, 40 fights,. He had
never won one, but he was a fighter. But Leonard was a guy that if
somebody was saying something and Leonard hit the guy he wouldn't htink
anything about it. His language was atrocious. lie would use four letter
words very proficiently., Profusely, rather, and he didn't care who was
there. The secretaries just had to get used to the way he was, because
that was Leonard and he wasn't going to change. But he wouldn't back
down from nobody. And at times he was coarse, Hle was too much. Jack,
on the other hand, was an extremely bright guy,. Somewhat introverted,
maybe. Very handsome man, knowledgeable guy in sales. A real people
person. YOu see, Leonard would work with people and snpa them like a
twig, not Jack. Jack would go along with a man, Jack would try to pick
people up. Jack just loved people, He loved people, he was a studious
guy. Leonard was a hellraiser and the fun raiser. Jack was a guy that
would spend hours reading and mulling over problems., And worrying about
people. They were so totally opposite. They fought like cats and dogs
too. Jack would think one way, Leonard would think the other way. They
would battle, battle, battle. You'd think they would kill each other.
But if somebody went after one of them, the other guy was their to help.
Between the two of them, they fought, but if somebody tried to fight
against them, they were brothers. They would stand back to back and they
could break the world. So, by the way, Jack was a very devoted family
man. His wife and four daughters. Leonard liked his family, but he had
other interests also. Leonard eventually divorced his first wife, Dorothy.
Married another woman.
D--When was this?
C--Maybe about eight years ago. I'm not sure. Married a younger woman in
her thirties. Although still provided for Dorothy. He spoke to Dorothy
like every week. Dorothy was set up in like a studio or gallery. And
I saw Dorothy after Leonard's death and she said the one thing that she
couldn't get used to was the fact that she couldn't pick up the phone and
talk to Leonard. He had divorced her, but he was still very thoughtful,
and very kind. Sort of cared for her. And Leonard's kids, other than
his older daughter Linda. IHe never got along with his son, -Ronnie. They
battled. IIe eventually, I understand, bought Ronnie out of the business
in Nevada. Ronnie went his own way and the other daughter, Sandy, I
think that she had problems. I'm not sure. I think she may have had
drug problems. She was working with the company and somehow or other
she got involved with the Church of Scientology. After Leonard's death
she came back to the company. But Leonard's kids and wife and whatever,
it's just the daughter, Linda, that's still with the business. So, that
was the best that I could explain it. Those are the two Rosen boys. Jack and
D--fWhat was Leonard's dream in starting Gulf? In Cape Coral, did they want
to build a city or were they just out to make more money?
C--I think they started out to make more money. I think they just started
out to sell a lot of land and to make money. As they got into it though,
they decided to build a great city here. I think he had the vision of
doing it, but he felt he could build something. I know Jack was the one
that was more of the visionary. Jack really talked about it. I was real
close with Jack. It was very important to Jack that things in Cape Coral
were done the right way. That we did help the city grow. Jack did some-
thing as an attraction. lie started up the Garden of Patriotism. Now we
did it as an attraction ,but we also did it....IHe went over to Europe
and he bought the Waltzing Waters, but he wanted that to be a primary
thing in Cape Coral. Hie got the sculptor Burks *to do a couple of hits
for that garden. They did the Kennedy. I think they did one of Bob IlDpe.
They did a third one and I think it was Eisenhower. They did a couple
"/ of Presidents. le got a hold of BbrgMan son. I forget what his name
was. Borgman did the Mount Rushmore. And Jack purchased a work model,
a small work model of Mount Rushmore. lie purchased the clay molding for
the garden. He also got....Turn around and I'll show you something.
D--Oh, that's good. The more they got into building Cape Coral, the more
they really got excited about building the city.
C--Yes, after the first year or two of sales of the property, and at that
point it was trying to do things to build thetity in a abetter way. The
garden was one approach that we had there. The clubhouse donw at the point
was a smaller building adn we built a larger building down there. The
bridge, Leonard was going to build the bridge. And then the county got
involved. I think they asked for a guarantee from the company, lie gave
them a guarantee. The revenues from the first two or three years. But
they never used the guarantee as I recall.
D--So you're under the impression that Leonard and jack would have built
C--Yes. They were going to build the bridge. No question about it. And
then in the beginning of theri first commercial areas, a guy named
Wyberg stated the first group there. And the comapny helped people.
They paid the bill. To bring businesses in there. There's a place where
you con't see anymore. It was one of the anchors of the industrial park.
Nahama '. Sportswear., I think Sam is dead now. But we started the
investor partner. Eddie Pacelli and I. It was at some town in New Jer-
sey, and Sam was a left-handed golfer. lie probably had a 10 handicap.
So I went out and talked to him about tis factory and played golf that
day. At night, when we were coming in from the 18 th hole. The 18th
hole is one where you tee off and land in front of the lake. And we
would all end up in front of the lake and Sam was right at the edge of
the lake and he hit last. We were all over on the green and Same puts one
in the water, puts two in the water, he's a good golfer, puts three in
the water in'the big lake. Well, he put the fifth one in the water,
we were on the ground we were laughing so hard. We couldn't hold it back.
Sam put 8 balls in the water. lie smashed the club he was playing with.
He said he'd never done that in his life. Anyhow, it sort of loosened
things up. Then we went and had lunch in the country club. That was the
first big factory we had at Cape Coral. But everything that we did at
Cape Coral we tried to do it the way that it should be done. ANd if
we had to spend an extra dollar here or there we spent an extra dollar
here or there. Sales was always the name of the game. We were in the
sales business. I think after the first year it was an infectious thing
with everybody involved. At Cape Coral which would build someday into
a city, there was a in that office building on Cape Coral Parkway, I
don't know what it is today, but our slaes office was there. And
there was some sort of a dedication to that building and we put a
plaque in there that said something to the effect to prove that the, I
forget what it said. The last line said something like "to prove that the
dreams of men and women can come true." Talking about hard work, devotion
or whatever, the dreams of men and women can come true. Because by then
Cape Coral was pretty much reality. It was moving. That plaque may
still be there. I don't know if that building is there anymore.
D--I believe it's First Federal.
C--The plaque is probably gone.
D--I'll have to check that out.
C--There was a stair case that went up and the plaque was under it. If
you get there, look in that building. It may be that there is a stair
case going up there and right under that staircase there is a plaque that
is so big. And that would be very significant.
D YOu say that when Gulf wnet into Cape Coral and started to build things
they put the extra dollar in, to make it look nice. Well, it almost had
to be to sell the land. Was that different than other land development
companies in the area? Or....
C--No. I think actually what you had was General Development. We started
out with the Mackies and they split off. As I recall G.D. tried to do a
decent job. Lehigh Acres, I'm just not that familiar with the operation.
Actually, coincidence before it was started I found Lee Ratner happened
to be one of our accounts in that ad agency. By coincidence, years back.
Before we had the earth, we did some work on beauty' product. That may be why we
got that Antellaccount. We did a beauty product for Lee Ratner. It was
a mail order product. It was very successful. Called Sona. But Lehigh
I just wasn't that close. I knew it in the latter years. Lehigh seemed
like a nice community. We could've skimped on the roads. As I recall,
the roads were above county standards. I spent many hours at meetings,
I know Tom Weber was there where we talked about the canals and we talked
about putting in weirs. We wanted to prevent salt water intrusion. And
the canal they dug them deeper than they had to dig them. Anything that
we put there, we could've cut corners. We could've put an extra two
inches less of gravel. We could've dug two feet less deep. We didn't have
to put in .weirs. Whatever it was we used the best engineers, Rader. Sof far as
Tom Weber, he was a great guy. In fact, I work with Tom. I hadn't seen
Tom for many, many years. And getting back with Leonard, he had hired,-
Tom'again as a consultant on the condominium project in Tennessee. That
he took over and finished. It was a pleasure working with Tom again, but
I worked with Tom in the early years. WE were both younger. Tom was al-
ways very quiet, very methodical. Always wore his straw hat. And Tom
Weber was probably the most ethical person you'd ever meet. ANd Leonard
knew that if Tom were involved, the job would be done right. ANd any
part of engineering, Weber was involved in it. As far as we knew, it
was done to proper specs or above proper specs.
D--How did Leonard come up with Tom Weber?
C--I don't know where we got Tom.
D--Do you know where he is at today?
C--Tom, I have a phone number for Tom. I've been trying to get him. But
he doesn't answer. The phone rings, but Tom doesn't answer. I don't
have the number here. I've got it in Las Vegas. I can call you with
Tom's number. The last I heard of him, he was living in Phoenix. Tome
had a series of problems. Tom had an anurism. And it was a thing that
at any time it could explode on him. He had gone to the Mayo Clinic and
they told him he was practically O.K. for a couple of years. And he told
me after we finished the job in Tennessee that he might go back to Mayo
and have one more checkup and he might have an operation. It was a very
dangerous operation. So I don't know what happened to Tom. I haven't
spoken to Tom for about a year. But I can get you this number.
D--A question that I'm still trying to sort out and stuff, basically, how
is Gulf organized? I know sales was obviously a big, big part of the
organization and everything. What were the other divisions in it?
C--Well, you say how is it organized? Pretty much like any other company.
You had a chairman of the board who was Leonard. You had a chief finan-
cial officer who reported to Leonard which in those days was I think a
/ ia SC
U>1' man named HIarrySC lossbut it could have been Harry or other people.
Then you had your legal department who reported to Leonard. I remem-
ber attorneys. I think the last one was Les Engel. And then you had
the operations and administration which was under Jim Layden who report-
to Leonard. And then you had development who was under Weber. Basically
you had four people reporting to Leonard who was....Hle was the chief exec-
utive officer. And chairman of the board. lie had those four factors who
reported to him on the table of organization. Then you had reporting to
leonard, the president really, and everything else in the company was
pretty much reported to Jack. lie was the president of sales and marketing
operations. ANd the operations that tied into that are: advertising,
customer service and our various .sales functions. And that was a big
operation. So it was alternately, Leonard the chairman, Jack, the pres-
ident. Jack was the executive vice president. lie charged sales and mar-
keting. I had all the marketing functions. And then Jack was involved
with some other sales support functions in customer service. So, in a
way it was an orthodox set up. In as way, it was an unorthodox setup be-
cause half of the operation was housed in Florida and controlled in
Florida and the other half of the operation was housed in Baltimore.
Controlled in Baltimore. In 1968, everything moved. In '68 we closed
our Baltimore office., And moved everything to Florida into our build-
ing on 79th Street. And at that point, it became a more orthodox opera-
tion. YOur table of organization at that point changed somewhat from
running two separate operations which when put together it became a
pretty much good line operation.
D--What operations were still in Baltimore? WiEre most of them marketing?
C--It was marketing.
D--You mentioned a little bit about the financing of the corporation. I
understand Leonard was pretty much the one that raised funds and stuff.
C--Leonard was the fundraiser.
D--Where did the unds come from. Was it just banks or was it private
sources? Do you have any ideas?
C--I was never that involved with it. Initially the funding came from their
monies they got with Charles Antel and the private investors. Then they
went public and got money from the public through stock. Then we were in-
volved and the usedour receivables as collateral for loans and they got
loans through various sources. I just don't recall at the moment. I've
got some financial statements here that you could probably look at which
show a schedule of the loans, at then end who the lenders were in those days
The FirSt National Bank of Ft. Myers. We borrowed money from them.
And there were others.
D-n-'ho in the corporation was responsible for working with Leonard on that?
Was there any one particular person?
C--I don't recall. I guess you know, it's jst hard to say. There was a cou-
ple people. I don't know if you've spoken to them. One is Jim Layden.
Jim LAyden was like an aid to Leonard. Leyden was in charge of in Florida
the telemarketing. And LLyden was in charge of the administration of the
building there. And he worked very closely. He was like Leonard's boy.
Now, Jim worked with Leonard on that. Probably Joe Maddlone worked with
Leonard. Maybe the attorney, Herzfeld. Then he had people in finance.
Harry Schwartz. I could name a whole string of people in finance. But
I can't think of the names. VWho would work in financing.
D--Tell me a little bit about Jim L-ayden. You mentioned him a couple of
times. You said he was involved with telemarketing. Was that the
C--Yes, -the telephone sales. And the administration was the thing
he did in the building there. Processing of our customer service there,
and our telephone operations. And whatever else. Layden was an opera-
tional guy. Leonard was not involved in day to day operation. Leonard
hit the high spots. If he said he would do it, Leyden was his guy.
D--Is Leyden still in the area here?
C--I don't know where he is now. I know he had moved upstate someplace, like
Orlando. I don't know where he is today.
D--Tell a little bit about the sales organization. How was that set up?
Were most of sales done on site in Cape Coral or was most of it done...?
C--No. Actually most of it was done away from the site. WE had a good
operation on the site. We had two sales operations on the site. We had
one operation where we would sell cold prospects. Now, in the early days,
we would drive people across with our salesmen who would take two cou-
ples in his car and drive all the way across the state. From Miami or
Ft. Lauderdale or wherever all the way over to Cape Coral. We also had
guys with sales in small planes. They would fly their own little cessnas
and they would take good prospects and go flying across the state. We
had a strip they'd land on there. So, we would generate these cold pros-
pects. WE had people here in Miami or other cities in the area. And we
S a had We'd have booths and storefronts where they would just do it
on the street just walking up and down the street. Or we had booths in
hotels. And we would ,canvas people, mainly tourists and took them across
the state to see our land project. We'd give them lunch, we'd give them
a gift, we'd give them a tour. And that was how we did it in the early
days. Cars and small planes. Then we got very sophisticated and we
bought and leased a fleet of DC-3's. And we'd bring across in groups
of 32 at a time. Those were the cold prospects.
D--Cold prospects were just people that were met anywhere, on the beach
and approached and bought in?
C--We'd say, can we take you across and show you our land project, give you
a nice day's tour, give you lunch, give you a gift. Some of them claimed
they were kidnapped and we didn't tell them the whole truth. We got them
over their and they'd scream and they holler, but you know, that's part of
life. WE also ran some big busses. We had so many DC-3's, then we built
our organization and built our canvasing pbwer. WTE were touring large
numbers of people a day. ANd then we got into large busses and we would
take busses of like 44 across and also planes. Then we got involved in,
after a couple of years, a second sale plan for property. Which was the
property owners line. By then we had people that bought property and a
year later came back again to see what was happening. So we had a second
sales line which when people came down, we'd take them out and show the
development of the place up to that point of time when they were there.
And we might upgrade them or we might sell them another lot. That was
the second sales line on the property. So we did a lot of sales on the
property. We did fairly well, but more of our sales came from out in the
field. We had out in the field in numbers, like 25 O & 0 offices. These
were company operated offices and they were in Boston, Detroit, whatever.
We also had a complimentary group of brokers. These were independent bro-
kers who, in essence, were franchised. They sold for us with a certain
commission. To give you an idea of how it built during the last year
he was in business, which probably during 1972, the broker who we had in
Ohio did 24 million dollars of land sales in one year. Just that one
broker in the state of Ohio. But we had maybe 20, 30, 40 brokers, maybe
20, 30, 40 company offices. We had offices in Europe. We had offices in
the Far East. And we had our telephone sales, which generated quite a bit.
And then we had....You asked what was one of the things which I look back
on. We had a situation with the state of Wisconsin would not approve our
property for sale. The real estate commission. There was a guy there,
I think I remember his name Betah, the state commissioner. For some
reason or other, their regulations were tough. They would never approve
our property. And I came up with the thought of going in there and not
selling land. And not soliciting people to buy land, but going in there
and soliciting people for a travel club. To take a trip to Cape Coral is
part of joining that club. And we called it the Travel Guild of America.
The Travel Guild of AMerica went in there and we presented it to this
guy Ilaines before we started. And he said, I hate your program because
it's legal and you can do it. He said that's why I hate it. I have no
control over you. For that reason I hate it, because you're going to be
able to operate here. We went in as Travel Guild of America. WE went in
and at that time we were doing dinner parties. At all these O & O's and
broker offices, we would send out invitations. And a company office or
broker office would have virtually 30 parties at once. Almost every night
of the week. They would go to a hotel, rent a room, have a dinner.
Chicken or steak or this or that, or roast beef, or whatever. We'd
invite people and have a nice dinner for them and then have a presenta-
tion for them. We had a speaker and salesmen there and we would sell.
And then what we did, was start these dinner parties in Wisconsin. Ex-
cept that we weren't selling land. WE were selling membership in a travel
club. Travel Guild of America. It was $79.00 a couple. Or $79.00 a
head. I remember the figure $79.00 and for that they got the membership
which gave them traveling shirts and gave them the baggage tags and gave
them ten different benefits. The travel club would give you discount at
hotels, and this, that, and the other thing. And in addition we gave
them one round trip to Cape Coral on a chartered airline, with the pro-
vision that they would attend a sales presentation. Now the trip was op-
tional. If they went though, they had to attend the sales presentation.
We used different airways and we were finally flying about 60 flights a
month I think. We finally bought an airline, Modern Air. We bought Mod-
ern Air because we were flying so many flights. It made sense to buy the
airline. We owned an airline. And what happened was that we started
flying these flights in and Wisconsin flew a whole jet full of people.
We made a phenomenal amount of sales. We had about a 60 or 70 percent
closing. The people came down and bought a lot. We also sold homes. An
impulse buy, buy a home. We would sell 2, 3, 4 homes a flight. We would
sell hundreds of thousands of dollars of land each flight. Then we
started flying flights from all over the country. So that was it. We
sold a lot of land, but I say about 65 per cent of our sales were off
site, maybe 35 percent were on site.
D--Was that Travel Guild of America your idea or was it just something that
C--It started as my idea and then we had a think group and I think I started
it. It was my thought to not sell land but to go in and sell a travel
club, and then it evolved. I think Jack really put the topping on it.
But it was somebody would get an idea and we had a good group there. There
is another guy. Is name is Len Rich. He lives in Miami, I'm getting his
number. Len Rich was our director of sales and promotion. And as I said,
we had a think group. Somebody would come up with and idea. WE thought
of time sharing. WE thought of it in 1961. We were prepared to start
time sharing our Cape Coral motel there. Jack didn't think it was such
a great idea. He killed it. To pre-sell ten years of vacations in any-
one of our hotels. In Arizona, in Cape Coral or Golden Gate or where-
ver. Jack didn't like the idea. We would've been like ten years ahead
of the French. But anyhow somebody would come up with a thought and we
had a group that would het together. Jack's office was on the second
floor on one side and my office was on the other side and we had a big
conference room in the middle on the second floor., We'd have about 8
or 10 of us that would kick these ideas around and develop them.
D--So Jack really encouraged new ideas and stuff.
C--The flights, dinner parties and all that stuff. We were very imaginative.
We had people who would copy whatever we did, but we were always first.
D--That was a question I was going to ask. Do you feel like that most of
your sales stuff Gulf was ahead of the rest of the folks, or did you
borrow some of the ideas from others?
C--The people who in the industry virtually, 90 percent of the people in
the industry were recruited by and trained by and became proficient in
Gulf American and then went off to other companies. Just about anybody
in the business that you ever spoke to had worked for Gulf American. They
were in General Development or Lehigh or whatever. There was absolutely
no question that our company was the innovators. WE started dinner parties.
We started the phone room sales. We started the flight sales. We started
so many things that we did first that the people would come along and
take from ous. But I can't really ever recall, and I was with it from
day one, I can't recall sitting down and saying, "Gee, General Development
is doing this. Let's do this. Or Iehigh is doing this. Let's try it."
We did it all. V did our own thing.. We did it well. And worked for
D--Were there any groups that were targeted for sales?
C--We had qualifications. In other words, we were going basically for mar-
ried couples basically between the age of 25 and 59 or whatever.
D--You were telling me a little bit about audiences that the sales people
C--Yes. We had qualifications. In fact, on our applications we sent out
the party invitations that said you must be married, husband and wife
must attend. The husband had to be between the ages of 25 and 59. ANd
employed. And we were shooting for at that point, I don't remember. Today you
shoot for a combined income 25,000. In those days it might have been 15 or 12
or whatever. But you try to qualify the people. So what we are looking
for, today you're looking for someone that is making 20-25,000. So
you're looking for an average income or a little above average. Our
market is a fairly educated blue collar market. That's our best inter-
est. Middle America.
D--WEre there any groups that were discouraged? I talked to Eddie Pacelli
and he said that originally there were a few people in the organization
that wanted to discourage blacks.
C--It was not a company policy, but there were some people, like we had all
these brokers in offices. When you're dealing with 5000 people, you can't
control them all. They in the early days, yes, they tried to discourage
blacks. If we had a party today, we could have say a presentation in Las
Vegas where you've got 12 couples come in. 4 or 5 of them would be blacks.
WE had a lot of black timeshareres. We had a lot of black property owners.
And today, a black is just another citizen. But in those days, if you
go back into the late 50's and early 60's, it wasn't that long ago, but
it's like a different world., I don't recall, when was Selna,. Alabama?
C--Sure. You were dealing with tht very time, so it was a different world.
But it was not company policy do discriminate against any race or creed.
We sold anyone.
D--You mentioned some of the innovations that you guys made in sales.
Techniques and parites and where you present things. Were there any others
anything innovations that were specifically unique to Gulf, in other
words, that they did. Were thcyabsolute first, or maybe they did that
were just unique to them?
C--Well, those two that we mentioned, the parties and phone sales. I think
we were the only company in that day that was doing phone sales. We did
it in a big way. But phone sales and the flight program was really the
most innovational. The flight program and the parties. Plus, we did
a big referral program. We did a thing called Bick Your Neighbor./ Where
we gave away a home and thousands of other prizes. That was a very suc-
cessful program. We can go back and look at some these materials and
some of things may come up.
D--when you say you had a big phone sales operation, how big is big?
C--Well, if we did 180 million dollars a years we could be doing about 24
or 25 million on phone sales.
D--So, what would you have? Would you have these people on the phone all
day long, that was all down in the MiXami office.
C--There was a hundred people on the phone and what they would do is call
various lists. We would have property people who would come to parties.
Strange as it may seem, that was our second best lead. This way we had
referrals, where somebody had bought and gave us the name of their
friends. So we would call them up and say, "You're name was referred
by David Dodrill, he bought a lot form us, and he thought that you might
be interested in our program and I'd like to tell you about it." And
then we'd go into our sales pitch. The second best lead was somebody
that had been to the property, been to a party, did not buy and then we
would just call them up and ask them about the sales party. We like to
call back and find out. It's part of our business. And we're just
curious, why didn't you buy? The guy would tell them why they didn't'
buy and then we'd go thought the sales pitch and we'd make a lot of
sales that way. Then we'd just get list of professional people and
business people and we'd call them. Or we'd just got through the phone
books and just call. But you call a lot of people. And they'd had what
they call a fun call. A fun call was where they would give the introduc-
tory and if there was definitely an interest they would send out a pack-
age. They would do what they would call a drive. The drive would ge't the
contract signed. And then, you had the follow up drive, and another
drive and another drive. Sometimes up to three, four, or five calls, un-
til you get the contract in. It takes a very specialized person. Usual-
ly a person that's good on the phone is not good on a head to head sales
situation. A lot are either handicapped people or obese people. Or
they are people who jut don't feel comfortable facing a person. But
they are fantastic on the phone. They can't be seen and to give them
that feeling of security that the other end does not know what they look
like. But for some reason or other, there is some kink in there in their
makeup. Where they just for some reason.... And there's some people who
are jsut good both ways, work on the phone, work in the field. But I
found that the person who works on the phone, works on the phone and
that's it. That's all they will ever be is a voice. Nobody know what
they look like.
D--Were you responsible for recruiting some of those folks?
C--That was mostly Lhayden. Now, what happened in, when we moved, well, be-
fore we moved, probably around '65 or '66, somewhere in there I was made
executive V.P. of all sales and marketing. And at that point, the phone
room, property, Florida, everything came under my domain. But Leyden
started at the phoneroom.
D--Something a little bit different. Iow's the land bought for the corpora-
tion? Did Leonard take care of all that? Or was their a particular person
within the corporation that would go scouting out land because...?
C--I wish I could remember, I just don't recall. I would say that Leonard
was involved mostly in the acquisition of land. And, you know the initial
piece was done through Bill Reynolds, and then there was the thing where
I don't remember, they would just send people in the area that would come
to us or we would go to them. I think that each purchase happened in a
different way. A broker would call Leonard or call Pacelli or call
Schwartz and say, "You know, we've got Joe Blow who's got 2000 acres that
he wants to sell." But when you look at a plan of Cape Coral, it wasn't
I think that we selected. We just bought everything. Except a few tiny
little out pieces, we just went continuous. We bought whatever there was.
We approached them. WE mostly went with Maddlone or somebody we were
working with. And Joe Maddlone used to get involved. JOe got involved
a lot in buying the land. So we would check the records on who owned land
and approach them if we wanted the land. We did the same thing in Golden
Gate and Ranmuda. Fortunately, everything we did, we started out with
one tract and just started adding on to it.
D--Well, aside from land purchases and everything, I did quite a bit of
reading in Tallahassee with the Florida Installment Land Sales Board,
and they criticize and basically acuse Gulf of unethical sales prac-
tices, switching lots and misrepresenting the appreciation potential
of lots and stuff like that. Were the grounds for those accusations?
C--Yea, property sales. The switching of lots. I remember we had, and I
don't know ho was involved in doing it, I cam maybe remember names. I
know that I found out and Jack found out, and I'm not sure, but I think
Leonard found out after the fact. Now, somebody had to make the decision
to do it. It was done in Florida, so Leonard may have been involved, may
not have been involved. It was a calculated risk that they took. I'm
sure that they intended to tell the board about it, but it is one of
these things that you get caught. One thing was is we needed, to the best
of my recollection now, we needed this material for road building. I
forget the name of the material.
C--Marl. As I recall, they discovered a tremendous deposit of this Marl.
There was this tremendous deposit of Marl was right in the middle of the
section that had been largely sold, which was not too well located. It
was sort of in very, as I recall, they just took this section and they
just flopped it over. So they may have sold a guy a lot here, and his
lot ended up here. VEE took a whole section and moved it over. The lots
were the same thing. It was better located. It was prime land. It was
good land. And the person actually got a better lot that he ended up
with than what he had bought. I think the intent was to say that we had
make a mistake. Well, the Board, they found out before. It wasn't a
thing were you sold a lot to a guy and said "You're lot is over here and
then he ends up out in the boonies some place. It was a thing were we
just flopped it over, which they shouldn't have done. Even if it is lot
switching. I think really the intent was there. And you can't do it, and
that's where they came up with the criticism. I can't imagine who made
the decision to do it, but it was done. And it couldn't be undone and
maybe if it was done and we went to the land board and told them that it
was done, then they did it. But basically that's what it was.
D--There was onetime in the late 60's the land board put monitors, sent
them to the corporation to just check out and make sure everything was
above board and everything and that was fought for a while.
C--I think the monitors came in after the suspension. We had a suspension
for 30 days, then they sent in monitors after that. And of course, we
didn't want monitors. But as I recall, they were sort of there. I don't
recall them doing any influencing or pressure or duress or whatever. I
think it was just a matter of principle, we didn't want monitors at our
D--Do you think that the hassling with the land board gave Gulf a bad image?
C--It did. Sure. Well, you know, the publicity and the suspension and
then the difficulty of getting registration for the land board after that
point. Before that time and after that time, they became very obctreperous with
us. And we couldn't get our filings approved. We were running out of in-
ventory. Plus, I think that the lenders wer very apprehensive about the
future of the company because of the problems we were having. So, we were
running tight on money, we were running tihgt on inventory, and it was a
big organization that we had built up. WE carried that organization for
30 days. When they suspended us we flew all our key people into Miami.
We had a big meeting in one of the hotels and we told them that every-
body would stay on salary. We carried everybody for 30 days without one
//j penny of revenue coming in other 'than you know, the book coming in. No
sales. IWE probably took quite a beating during that tme, and the company
was weakened. AT that time the Rosen boys were selling the company, I
think. They had talked with several interested groups. I remember they
talked with the Gulf and Western. They were pretty close to a deal with
Gulf and Western. The guy in England, Bloodhorn, I think. In fact, it
looked like there was going to be a deal. The compnay was going to be
acquired by Gulf and Western and then at the last minute, it just blew
up. And then I forget just when they started talks with GAC. I think
it was somewhere around September or October. Before suspension. Now
we were suspended in December of '68. So that was it. It was a thing
where or inventory was tight, our money was running tight. It was a
tough period. We lost money in '68.
D--Was it just a lack of confidence from the public's part, and on the bank's
C--I don't-hink the public knew that much about it. They would read an art-
icle. They would read it today and forget it tomorrow. But your lenders
^ b regulatory agencies
/ became aware of it, your in all states are aware of it. People in
the business are aware of it. YOu know you want to approve somebody for
a key position, the guy is very skeptical about joining a company that
has just been suspended. So, as I recall, I can't recall any other com-
pany that was ever suspended. That was a pretty harsh thing.
D--What would happened if somebody had purchased a lot and everything, and
you know, for whatever reason....I've looked through a lot of letters that
were written to the governor and stuff like that. Just people saying that
they wanted more information, they wanted their money back or wanted out.
What would be the corporation's response to something like that?
C--Somebody just wants out, they can't arbitrarily say that they want out.
A woman becomes pregnant and on the sixth month she can't just say that
"I want out." You're too far. You're in already. Once they signed that
contract they had their rescind period. In may instances, we sold,outside
of the state of Florida. They had a six month inspection period. A
person in Detroit had six months to come down and inspect. Now, if they
came down within a six month period and said they didn't like it, they
got all their money back. So once you go past those periods that were in
the contract, the guy would say, "well, I lost my job, I just don't like
it, I want out" He has one option: just to stop paying and we would for-
feit on it. Now, if it were a really hardship case like in many, many in-
stances, if it's a hardship for some reason, we would give them back
their money. But if somebody would jut arbitrarily say Idon't want to
continue, we would say no.
D--When did Gulf decide to start buying other properties like Golden Gate,
and Remudd and stuff? Why did they want to go into those ventrues?
C--Well, I don't recall. Golden Gate in probably the early '60's. Maybe
60 or 61, 59, somewhere around there. Just to further diversity, really.
Starting up just a new market. Ft. Myers was one area, Naples was second
area, very close. But it was diversity, yo could accept new brokers. It
was something fresh. And there was a plan likewise. Cape Coral was all
for home sites. In Golden Gate the concept was to go in with a core
area, four main sections. The four main sections, or there could have
been even more acres, but it was a core area there, wereyou could go in
with small lots. And then, around that to go in with lkacre lots, which
would not have the full development, with paved roads. You'd go in there
with gravel road and you'd go in there with rolling septic tanks. So,
it was a different type of product, and that's the reason that we went
to Golden Gate. And it was, actually it wasn't a bad plan. They had the
core and they ahd their exterior lots of land around there. It made
sense. That's why we went to that one. Then your next one after the....
The one after Golden Gate was probably, as I recall, it was probably
River Ranch, up in Ocala. And River RAnch was pretty much the same con-
cept where we had a core of lots that could be built on and then had
the larger, undeveloped acreage tracks around it. And River Ranch was
not a bad idea. Somebody wanted to do some, you know. Big piece of land
out there. You could afford to buy ten acres, put an A-frame out there.
We set up a hunting preserve out there at River Ranch. It would be a
private hunting preserve for the owners. Put in nice amenities and re-
creations. Gorgeous place. A dude ranch was there. It was nice. WE put
up a main building with huge 40 foot fireplaces, a balcony with rooms all
around. We had a restaurant and grocery store. We had stables. We had
riding horses. There wer riding trails, hammocks out there. We put in
a marina coming off the Kissimmee River. They'd come in and we had a nice
little basin. All sea wall in there with the docks and the pumps. We had
ten tennis courts there. We had a skeet range, gorgeous skeet range.
We could land a company jet there.
D--So, it was never intended to be another Cape Coral?
C--No. It was a sort of casual Western theme. Large tracks. In fact, the
park that we had planned was going to be like an air park. We had
planned off that strip where there were taxi ways into homesites, where
people could actually taxi their place right down next to their home.
So, the concept of River Ranch was good. It was an excellent concept.
It was sort of remote, but it was a good concept. And then we had the
actual building which we were developing. So that was River Ranch. Teh
tragedy really was Fermuda, where we were just selling underground land,
no development promise. Supposedly underwater part of the year. It was
Sunder water most of the year, I think. It turned out to be the Fakahatchee Strand
which was an area that never went under, but we had already made an in-
vestment in there and we had the land approved. We were going to drain
that. Then we were going let a stream back in and then we became the
bad guys because they didn't let us do it. But we had already made an
investment in there. If you go there today, you've got a hundred and some
odd rooms in tht building which one of the islands, they call it. We put
in that main building a big restaurant, all that sea wall in there and
all those docks in there. We put an airstrip in there. We put in the
tennis courts and the big pool. It was gorgeous building, that main
building. And then we built across the road on the other side, which you
can't see from the road, is another 102 rooms and a great big building
with big meeting rooms to be made there, a big restaurant to be put in
there. We put an R.V. park in on that side. We put in riding stables.
WE put in a big skeet range. We put all kinds of amenities in there,
and then we were told that you can't drain the land. So we became real
bad guys. We sold all this land tht was under water, you see? We were
stranded. They were going to preserve it. I think the concepts were all
good. I think that there was maybe a little greed in fulfilling them.
We got the Golden Gate and River Ranch which we were going to sell in
large tracks. But there's no inselling an acre and a quarter, two
and a half acres. And a lot of the people that bought Rermuda bought it
because they wanted to go hunting out there in the sawgrass. And the
same with River Ranch and the same with Golden Gate. But that was the
concepts. Different products, different appeal, and different areas
where you had different markets open.
D--When salesmen were on the road and stuff would they sell basically Cape
Coral or would they present all the different things?
C--They basically, we had Cape Coral sales people and Golden Gate salespeo-
ple. Brokers sold different products. They might sell two. A broker
might sell Golden Gate and River Ranch. They never sold Cape Coral and
Golden Gate. We never mixed Cape Coral and Golden Gate.
D--Some people said that Gulf overextended itself when it bought all these
other properties. Do you think that you did, financially just overex-
C--No. I don't think so. I don't think so. After we sold out to GAC,
this is an example. The first year, now, you've got to realize that
the compnay just finished a year of suspension and was really in a down
configuration. GAC took over and A charged us with a job of, year
1, year '69. He said he wanted 25 million dollars in profit. We had
a big organization but it was like, it was inoperative. We were just
starting up again. We were sort of struggling at that point. We did
it. We sold 273 million dollars worth of land in 1969. We produced 25
million dollars in.profit. I think that we could have done it in the
year 70, 71, 72, right on through. Today, Avatar which is the rebirth
of GAC is in the land business and selling land. General Development
is selling it today. So the land business is still going. Now this
is, how many years? Was it already extended in '68 and this is '88?
Twenty years later and the land business is just starting to build up
again. So, I don't think that we were over extended, no. I think some
of the problems that we had with the state--you know regulatory agencies
would come in with their rules, regulations, and guidelines, and then
they'd change them in midstream. And you have planned on the original
guidelines. But when the guidelines change, it's pretty difficult after
you've committed yourself to the course of sales and the course of deveo-
oprent. And then you've got to turn back and go the other way. We, at
one point, in Cape Coral were under the impression that we had a permit
" "7to dredge the ----- canal, I think we called it, which is on the western
part of Cape Coral. To dredge, either two or three canals out into the
Matlacha Pass out into the Gulf of Mexico. We were stopped from doing it.
We originally had been given the permission to do it. We sold lots with
that intent. It was after I had left the company. They had to put in
boat locks to get the boats out. So we had sold those lots with good
intentions. And your planning seems sound at the time your are doing
it, when your states and counties change their regualtions and you are
forced to going a different direction, then you've got to go back to the
people you sold land to and say, "I can't deliver what we told you be-
cause we can't do this that and the other thing." Not that we were
all good, when we got into it, we knew what kind of land we were selling
in lbrmuda. And I think the sales men in many instances would say there
was a airport that was coming up that never materialized, are you aware
C--I think it was this jet airport that the salesmen sold. When you have a
jet airport you can imagine what is going to happen to this land here,
right? And that was it. No. I don't think that they over-extended. I
think that the land purchases that were in the company's inventory were
properties that we thought that we could sell over time.
D--You know, a lot of people have accused Gulf of being the bad guys as far
as environmental issue, dredging upstuff like that. Was that just some-
thing that everybody was dong back then, or was that unusual, that we're
just going to go out and rape the environment.
C--I think that not too long ago there was an article on Golden Gate about Avatar.
Where they were buying back some land and reselling it, which it not il-
legal. Primarily they were saying it was immoral. The wer buyin back
land from people who had bought it for 4000. They would call up that
person five year later and ask if they'd like to sell theri land for
3000. And they'd sell it. And then Avatar and these attorney trans-
ferred to Avatar, and then Avatar would turn over the land for 10 or 12
thousand dollars. What they were saying is they were selling land for
over the appraised price. There is no crime in it. And then they got
into the whole story about Gulf American was suspended in '68 and they
talk about it. But there was one quote in there that somebody said the
sale to Golden Gate might at some point become equivalent to the Sahara.
The Sahara in Southwest Florida, because there were all those canals
and drained the water off the land. I don't think, you go out and you
buy your large track of land and you plot the land into lots. And then
you go to the state and the corp of engineers for approval to drain
that land, and they give yo approval to drain the land. So, you go ahead
and dig canals and you fill the canals and you build the land up, and you've
got to drain the canals now. What did you do wrong? You bought the land
and got permission to drain it. The state corp of engineers gave you per-
mission to drain it. Then you drain it and you sell lots and everybody
thinks that you're a bad guy, you've destroyed the ecology. True. There
could be some damage there. But we bought land which had water and we
went in and requested permits to dredge and to dig canals so we could
drain the water out into open water. In so doing, we had to destroy Mangrove.
We got the permits to do it. We didn't know a mangrove from a
holly bush. It was just a piece of vegetation. Now, I Imew what a man-
grove was. I found out in later years what a mangrove was. Fish use
it for vegetation. But we got a permit to do it. On the west park there
where we thought we had permission to dig theAcanal and then find out we
didn't, we were going to destroy a lot of mangroves to do it. So, they
stopped us. But we probably did destroy the ecology. I had a place
down here called Ocean Reef. You can't imagine how much mangrove
Ocean Reef had. Not too many people holler about it. I think a lot of
it's political. Whether or not you can destroy mangroves. But did Gulf
American do some damage to the ecology? I'm sure we did. We had to.
To develop you've got to do it. You've got to drain land and you've
got to destroy certain vegetation, there is no way around it. So I
guess we did it. If that's a crime, I guess we committed a crime. But
we had permission to do it. The state gave us permission.
D--Was it one of GAC's problems with the state and environmental agencies
and stuff? Was it just a carry over or did they do a lot of stuff
C--Yes. I think that GAC just inherited. GAC really didn't initiate that
much. They picked up Gulf's liability. They picked up Gulf's develop-
ment requirements. And picked up the Gulf inventory and just continued
on with it. So, they didn't create any problems. So far as the situation
with the Federal Trade Commission, the orders. It may have been some of
the direct doings of GAC, but a lot of it was inherited.
D--Now, what was this again? This was...
C--This was an FTC order. Tlis was like, I'm trying to think of any FTC thing.
The FTC orders almost coincided with GAC going into bank ruptcy. It was
in 1975 that we were dealing with the FTC, and the FTC came out and I
guess it was really when the comapny was in receivership. The FTC is-
sued an order that for certain properties where people had bought in
Golden Gate and Bermuda where the compnay was required waht they had pur-
chased with other lands. And they did that. I think it all occurred in
1975, 76. It was in that period.
D--Talk a little bit about the sales of Gulf to GAC and everything. You men-
tioned a little bit how the Rosen brothers were starting to get ideas
in 1908 about selling the corporation adn everything. Talk a little bit
about how the actual sale went through. Did they just carry out dis-
cussions for a while?
C--I was never privy to that. Basically that was Leonard and Jack and
D--Did you all know it was going on?
C--Yes. We were told about it probably in September or October of '68.
And maybe even before then. Sometime in '68, they got serious with GAC
Sand then what happened was GAC went through a process called due diligence
is where there is a pending purchase of a large company. The purchaser
will sign an agreement where he can do his due diligence GAC sent in ah army
of people: their attorney, their accountants, their marketing people,
their P.R. people. They went through our company with a fine tooth comb.
They had 20 or 30 different people come in. And lived with us for 2-4
months. They questioned everybody in the company, went through all the
books, went through all the records, went through everything. And GAC,
being a public company, had to do that. Should they have purchased
Gulf and then after purchasing Gulf, some factor comes up which is very
detrimental to their purchase, which would diminish the value of the
comapny, finding out after they had closed. Everybody would be under a
big liability. So when you've got a large company purchasing another large
company they have to go through this due diligence process. So that beyond the
shadow of a doubt they are satisfied with every aspect and statement of
warranty made to them before the purchase is made. So, they went through
this whole process. The actual closing took place in FEb. of 1969. Now,
it was a formal closing and GAC was going to come in and take over so
Wills and his people were in there prior to and were actually involved in
the operation. They were sort of in a transition period, When they ac-
tually closed we were off and running already. We were moving.
D--When GAC took over, what happened with the Gulf American people, particu-
larly the higher ups? WEre they all fired or were they kept on for a
C--Yeah, most of them stayed. Leonard and Jack went their way. Jack and
Leonard were consultants, but they didn't really do much consulting.
Some of the people went. I gues there was an agreement beforehand. Some
of our managers and marketing people went with Jack. Jack set up a busi-
ness across the street. lie set up like a marketing company. Jack was
workings out a deal where he was going to provide prospects. And Jack
was in some other things and Leonard had some other plans. Jack took
some people with him. ANd through an' agreement with GAC, I stayed. I
was traded like a ballplayer. I stayed with the team. And most of the
people stayed with the team. I would say within a year some of them were
filtered out. In fact, there was a whole big string that happened two
years later in 1971, where there was just a mass firing there. What
happened, this was in, let's see, they came in in 1969 and in 1970 they
made me president. I really didn't want to be president, I just wanted
to be in charge of marketing, but I became president. I was there for
about a year. And then....
D-That was what? GAC Properties?
C-- Land properties. And then, Hayward called me one day and said, they are
bringing in a new president and they made me vice-chairman of the board,
which is sort of a funny way of sayin, you are on your way out. And, in
April of 1971, Frank Steffins called me in his office and they gave me
an option of resigning and getting a year's severence or getting fired
and getting no severence. So I opted to resign and get a year's sever-
ence. But what.... maybe six months prior to that layward Wills really
didn't understand our business, lie had approached me to fire about 6 or
7 of my top vice presidents and managers. They had been with the com-
pany for about ten or twelve years. HIe just didn't like these guys. lHe
felt they were too aggressive and doing things that they shouldn't do,
and on and on and on. And I said that I wouldn't fire these guys. I'll
try to rehabilitate them, but I'm not going to fire them. They've been
working too man years. I refused to do it. And at that point he went
ahead and he hired a whole new marketing group, hired a new guy to be the
v.p. in marketing. And they brought them in. And then in April, I re-
signed that day. And then that afternoon, they fired nine vice-presidents.
All the top management in the company.
D--Who are we talking about?
C--Well, they fired Finkernagel, Mort Rollick, Lester Morris, Nick Sanders,
I got a clipping on the thing that I could probably give you. Anyhow,
that was it. They fired the whole group. Now, about three or four
months later I got a call from a guy named Joe Klein, I was going to take
about three or four months off, but the next day I got a call from Joe
Klein of Cavanaugh Communities, and I met him for dinner. I said, "Joe
I'm not going to work for your company." But he was very convincing.
The next day I became president of his comapny. And I stayed with hime
for not too long, but I didn't like the way that he operated. I didn't
like his father. I didn't like a lot of things about him. In any event,
they were paying me good money, but I got a call from HaywardMills in
November. They let me go in April. In November he called me and said,
"The sales are in a shambles. Ve need help out of this." lie wanted
me to come back to the company. And at that point I probably made the
biggest deal of my life. And I moved back to the company. I started
officially back in January of 1972.
D--So, how long had you been away?
C--About 7 months.
D--What enticed you to go back?
C--The money. They made me a good deal and I went back, and we started up
again. We started to crank., The first six months we built very nicely,
we climbed, climbed, climbed. And at that point Hayward WIlls brought in
another man. Aguy named JackWinston. And Hayward felt that selling land
was not the way to go. That they were going to be the biggest housing
company in the world. ANd they didn't do anything.
D--There was just not enough money to be made in houses?
C-G.o, there wasnt;The corqmpny reorganized and they were now selling houses.
One of the things I did that look back upon was that I did start a hous-
ing program which is going to this day as I understand. And it was over
the phone. We sold houses on the phone. They said that you can't sell
a house on the phone, and we sold thousands of houses on the phone, be-
casues you did all you transactions before you brought the person down.
But GAC and Avatar sold an awful lot of houses on the phone. Because the
people that owned that land are scattered all over that world. The phone
is the easiest way to reach them. So we set up a program. The basis of
the program was an exchange mechanism which really made the thing work.
And they sold a lot of houses.
D--You started that with Gulf or with GAC?
C--I started that with GAC.
D--Do you feel like that Wills was constantly interfering? ILand is a busi-
ness that he really didn't understand? Should he have stayed out of it?
C--Ycs and no. lie was a very bright guy, sort of naive guy. lie knew the
finance business, he knew the insurance business. And he learned a lot
about the land businees, but he was very naive in certain aspects of it.
Tie was naive to the type of people it takes to run it. Nobody is going
to walk up to you and say, I need to buy a piece of land, it just doesn't
happen. I mean you have to find that person, you have to seek him out,
then you have to twist him one way and the other way, back and forth.
It's hard to sell. It takes certain types of people to do it. Hayward
didn't like these people. lie told me to get rid of them and I wouldn't
get rid of them. Basically, I don't consider myself to be one of these
type of people, but I've learned to understand them. And I Inow how they
operate and I can operate like them. There's a certain chemistry that I
don't have that a real hard closer has. ANd a lot of these guys are
really there. If you've got conscience. it's very difficult to sell
a piece of land sometimes. These guys have noconscience. They want their
commission and that's it. Hayward didn't understand them plus Hayward
made some basic errors. They were two key deals in the life of GAC. One
was a thing called Three Islands which is over here in Hallandale.
I1allandale, Hollywood, Florida area. This is a large piece of land, but
they've got nice companies there now, they've got roads there, they've got
a bridge there, they've got all kinds of shopping areas and everything.
And this is a piece of land that GAC took a 120 million dollar write down
on. They just lost their ass on that. This was a thing that when they
took over and Leonard Rosen went out and got involved with a guy named
Melvin and HIayward went up there to buy this big track to develop it and sell
it off. There were a few people at the top, including myself. I led the
charge and told HIayward not to do it. It's not a good deal. But Hayward
was headstrong. He went through with the deal. And he ended up writing
- off a hundred plus million. The second deal was the Elutha. Where he
worked out a deal with Juan Trip from Pan Am. Juan Trip owned those
lands. HIe made a deal with Iayward to sell 5800 acres, and they had some
grandeous plan of doing a big, big project. Well, he had built this thing
up so, and he had consultants come in and he had books written on this,
thing. There were two guys in the compnay that opposed the plan. I
was one. I told IHayward that if went over in the Bahamas, everybody was
smiling and everybody was a buddy over there. As soon as they get their
hooks into you, you're dead. And I said, "Hayward, it's not the right
place to go, we've got too much going here. Let's not do it." The
(72 other guy was a guy named Jack Ring. lie died about a month ago. Jack
was a vice-president and a sanitary engineer for the company. Jack ran utility com-
panies and all. And Jack told Hayward there's not enough water there
to support that project. You're not going to get enough water. You've
got a golf course going in. You just do not have enough water. Well,
Jack was against it for technical reasons. I was against it because I
didn't think that it would sell, that we would have a problem there. I
just thought it was going to be a big loser with the company. In any
event, after haggling at meetings for months and months and months, Wills
calls a meeting. He has about fifty company executives in town. They
are around a big U table. They'd got an advertising company from Pitts-
burgh who had already worked out the whole campaign. They had the T.V.
commercials done, they had the radio commercials, they had the newspaper
done. Everything was done. It was very complete. Ilayward brings this
thing out and does the whole dog and pony show. Everything is ready to
go. And he signed the deal. It was contingent with something, but that
day or the next day, he was signing the deal with Trip. Anyhow he puts on this
great show with slides and the whole thing, the big fanfare. Then he
goes around this whole table of 50 guys. Everybody that had any type
of title in the company was there that day. And he started at the other
end. HTe seats me at the end. And he started at the other end. And he
says, "Now, I want to know what everybody here thinks about the deal."
"Be honest." Everybody was like Yeah! When he gets to Jack Ring, he
was sort of leary at that point. lie said, "THayward, it sounds great, but
I think that we are still going to have problems of water." Before he
gets to me, I'm the last guy, hesays, "O.K. guys, we've been haggling or seven
months. What do you want me to do now?" So, I want your blessings.
What do you think about this project? I said, "Hayward, I hat: to say it
but most people have turned me down. I don't think that we should go
into this project now." He didn't talk to me for two months after that.
And then he ended up writing off 6 million dollars. He went right down
the tubes. After he put in airstrips, condos, sea walls, whatnot. It
all went down the tubes. So, we tried to make it work. We couldn't.
That was really why he brought this guy Winston in. Jack Winston, the
housing guy. Winston had come in and that was his first project. iHe
was going to do a big timeshare. HIe built more models out there. Win-
ston ended spending another 2-4 million in cash out there. So that's
what really got them into trouble. They just burned up a lot of cash. have.
They had a bond that came due to be redeemed and they didn't have
enough to redeem the bond issue. And in June of 1975, we had a meeting
as to what to do about the bond issue again. We all came up with a
plan that was an exchange plan. We couldn't redeem it, so we wanted to
exchange it. What to do with the bondholders. And I came up with my
plan which was a little bit more generous than the other guys plans, but
the plan would've worked. The bondholders would have gone for it. ANd
Hayward had his own plan' and we argued it back and forth, and he was
pretty adamant that he wanted to go with his plan. I told him that
his plan was not going to work. It was at a point, that although I
liked Hayward and admired him, his judgment and my judgment are just
different. I just told him that the exchange plan is not going to work.
I told him that was going down the tubes. And I guess I was too
argumentative. And I told him that the whole thing.... And he called me
into his office and said, the most positive guy in the
"Hep you, have you turned from being
company to the most negative guy in the company." And I told him that I
just didn't see things working. We'd just end up bankrupt. I said if you
want the exchange program to work, you've got to do it a certain way.
lie said, "Why don't we just settle your contract and you leave?" And
we did, and that was the end of it. That was in June of 1975, and in
December they filed for bankruptcy. That was that.
I---When the Rosens sold Gulf American to GAC, how much did they end up get-
ting out of it?
C--They got, it was all stock that they got.
D--They didn't get any cash at all?
C--If they did, it was very little. It was all stock. And a lot of the
stock was marked stock. They couldn't sell it. They had to go through
a registration to sell it. A figure of 160 million sticks in my end. I
don't know if that's the number or not. I think it was 160 million.
D--Some people said that they sold out for all this stock, but by the time
that they could sell it, the value of the stock had gone down considerably.
C--Right. Jack, of course died in 69. I know his wife got money out of it,
how much, I don't know.
D--In the sixties, I read a couple of things in the Wall Street Journal
about the SEC investigating the Rosens for the possible manipulation of
Gulf AMierican stock. WAs there anything to that?
C--Not that I know of.
D--Just a coincidence? Another thing is, Gulf American branched out and
bought an insurance company and an auto part manufacturer Ferrestra. ,Some people
have said that they bought these companies in order to strip them of
C--No. They bought a company named Guild Life, which had no assets. They
bought the shell. ANd we built Guild Life into a halfway decent insur-
ance company. I think we bought just to get into credit life.' Aid'sell credit
life with our land sales. I think we got into other forms of life. But
Guild Life was nothing when we bought it. It was a worthless company.
We bought it because it was an insurance company. We wanted to own an
insurance business.The auto parts company, I don't recall. It doesn't ring
a bell to me.
D--Finestra of Chicago.
C--I don't remember them. I draw a blank.
D--What was Leonard's reaction to the bankruptcy and failure of GAC?
C--I have no idea because I wasn't communicating with Leonard at that per-
iod. He was over in Germany. He had started a mutual fund over there,
called the Par Fund' and they had some problems. I don't know what
their problems were, but they had some problems. And of course, his
company started in 69 out in Nevada.
D--Tell me about that. I want to hear some more about that. Because I
haven't been able to track down much of what, he did after he sold out.
C--Well, he was in Germany with this Par Fund. And I really don't know what
kind of fund it was. He had some problems with it. I think the German
government. They worked out some settlements. They solved that. But
he started with his son, Ronnie, this land company called CaiVida. And
it's about 60 miles from Las Vegas. It's in a place called IPahrump. And
Nevada is a strange state. There are places in Nevada which will support
habitation Las VEgas, is one. The Las Vegas valley. Then you have
to go 60 miles Northwest to come to the Pahrump valley, which is a green
verdafit valley. But everything else is B.L.M. Bureau of Land Management. The
land belongs to the government. You can't develop it. There's no water.
All you've got are Joshua trees and Yucca bushes. And this goes on for
miles and miles and miles. You're in Las Vegas and you drive for 60
miles and you come up over this ridge and you see this green valley
there. It is incredible after going through all tis desert. The only
other part of the state in up north. I think it runs from Reno across the
state. And everything else in the state of Nevada is either military
bombing'ranges or BLM land. So, they bought this land in the Pahrump Val-
ley and they started developing out there. And he sold a lot of lots
because of housing going up out there and commercailism growing up out
there. And they had two golf courses out there and a big clubhouse. There
was an inn with a restaurant and a bar. WE've got some condos that we've
put out there. And we're starting up, we just got a new financing pack-
age and we're starting a whole new housingprogram come 1988. And....
D--How many people live there?
C--In 1969 there were about 600 people. Today you've got about 7 or 8
thousand that live out there. ANd we held a sales meeting the other
day and I told these guys, "You know, you're....I'm the oldest guy in
the room. I just turned 64. I said, "I've lived through a situation
once where in a little town of Ft. Myers. And about 100 years ago, Tho-
mas Edison said that someday everybody in the world is going to find
out about Ft. Myers and when they do they are going to beat a path to
the doorstep." And I said, "Today a lot of people in the world know about
Ft. Myers, but they know about it only because of a place called Cape
Coral. It made it happen. You guys here, whether you know it or not,
you are part of history making. Because you are in on something that
someday, I'll make a prediction that someday most of the people in the
world will know about Pahrump. And they are only going to know about be-
cause of a place called Calveda." Which is right in the middle. Pah-
rump is a city and they will grow. It will grow because of Calveda. It
wouldn't have grown on its own.
D--So, Calveda is the name of you development.
C-Right. It'll grow. 20 years from today. Cape Coral started in 1957, so
that's 30 years. Calveda has been growing for about 18 years. In another
20 years you'll have 12 to 15 thousand. It's growing everyday. A lot of
construction. Something exciting is goin on.
DT--o, Leonard was a part of all that?
D--Ilow much land is out there? In Calveda?
C--low many acres do we own? About19 or 20 thousand acres.
D--Was Leonard up to anything else during those time periods?
C--We've got that land development and we've got three timeshare develop-
ments. A big one in Las Vegas, we've got one in REno, and we have one in
Hawaii. Then they got involved with rehabing rental properties and selling
them off as investment packages. They went through a couple thousand of
those. Jack got some old stuff and really fixed it up nice and sold it
off to investors. ANd then they did a project in Tennessee. That's when
I got back with them. And we've got a couple of R.V. parks. But, he
had this project in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. THe had called me to come back
with the company. He actually didn't call me for that. I came back when
the comapny, I really don't know why he called me, but he said that he
was going to start an office up in Miami. lie was going to spend time
here. I think it was all a fabrication. For some reason, he just thought
of me and wanted me back. But I came back with the company about three
years ago and I worked with them to start these two R.V. parks out
there. And then he called me in one d ay and said, "I've got a big pro-
blem and you've got to help me. It's Gatlinburg, I can't sleep at
night." lHe said, "We've already lost somewhere between 2- and 3-'million
on the project. I don't think that it's ever going to be finished. It's
a loser. Go out there and see what you can do." So I went to GAtlinburg
and started pulling things together and talked to Leonard just about
every day. And he really wanted to shut it down. After I'd been up
there about two months he said, just say we'll do it and we'll do it to-
morrow. Let's shut it down. I said, "You can't do it Leonard. If you
shut it down, you're going to have lawsuits. We'll finish the project.
We had sold it out. Tie said, "You'll never finish it." Everyday I heard
him say that you'll never finish it. And we finished it. I finished the
project. I built it out. We sold it out. WE closed it out. It is the
most gorgeous thing that you've ever seen. It's up there in Gatlingurg
up on the ridge.
D--Are these condos?
D--What's the name of it?
C--Gatlinburg Golf and Racquet Club. They renamed it Deer Ridge. It is a
magnificent place. And it's probably got the best view of the Smokey
ILuntains of anything in Gatlinburg. ANd the company still owns 50
acres up there. Now we've got all the water and sewage. VE've got all
the roads in. WE've got all the amenities in. And we've got building
plans ready for the next phase of 93 units. I think we'll do another
phase in Gatlinburg.
I)--I think that I've seen it up there.
C--It's outside of town. Just east of Gatlinburg. It's a place called Cobby
Nob. You've got to wind up into the mountains there. Once you get there,
they are gorgeous. VEry rustic, beautiful. I would like to do another
phase. 1E've talked about doing it. Timesharing is going off into a new
thing called fractional interest where people buy twelvths of the year.
They buy four weeks or six weeks. A lot of those people bought Gatlinburg
so they could come up there four to six times a year.
D--What occupied your time in between GAC and going back to work for Leonard?
C--I left GAC, I got involved.with a thing up in the northern part of the country
5V) called Lakes of AcadiaTheir director of marketing. It was a project.
Almost everything that I got involved in was like a troubled project.
That was very troubled project. They got the sales with the brokers and
they ran into problems and sales just ceased. ANd they were....they called
L 0 46
me and I worked up there for about a year with this guy, Larry Gordan. And got his
sales really cranked up again, and got it going. And then when I go the
thing really going, the joke is this guy is a horse better and goes out
there evry day and he is losing, losing, losing. The Jewish guys goes to
synagogue and says, "God, help me. I'll do anything, just let me win one
good race, because I'm losing and my luck is down. Give me one good day."
lie goes to synagogue for a couple of weeks and goes up to the track one
day and bets on the first race and he wins. Then he bets on the second
and third and up to the twelvth race now. And he prays to God to let his
horse win. Tvelvth race, he's now got a couple of hundred thousand dol-
lars and he puts it on his horse and the race goes on. The horse starts
out last. lie's praying to God. lie prays and it comes around the first
turn and he's praying and the horse picks up a couple of lengths there
and he's around the back stretch and he says God, please, you told me you
would help me. I'll be devout, I'll do anything that you want. I'll
spend my whole life devoted to the synagogue. I'll do anything. And as
he's praying, the horse is moving and as they make the final turn, the
horse pushes out to four lengths ahead. He says, O.K., God, I'll take it
from here. Where was I?
D--Talking about what you were doing after GAC.
C--After I built this thing up and was at a point where we were doing like
he says, "HIepner, A So in other words, he was saying, O.K. God, I'll
take it from here. So that was my thing with Larry Gordon. Then he beat
me for like 10 thousand dollars in commissions. So, I had to take him
to court. I had a license and went into general real estate, just to see
what it was like. So I joined this lock company and the second month I
was with them I had the top sales in the office, but I had the most list-
ing and the most sales in the second month. ANd I was with lock about
six months and I was doing fairly well there, but it's hard. You've got
to go out and beat on doors. I went from being a president to knocking
on doors for making a living. But, my case with Iarry Gordon came up.
I met with him and his attorney and we settled. We settled for about 8
and he says, come back and work with me. So I went back and I spent a
couple years with him and a project up in Ft. Lauderdale from scratch.
We did a thing from scratch and he beat me for the commission again. But
what happened when I left himi this time, I joined the company out in Las
Vegas. I got a call from the big time share company and went out to Las
Vegas. And that's when I started commuting. And I took over as executive
v.p. of that company and stayed with them for about three years. And the
company was taken over by a shady guy and I didn't like how he operated
so I quit. I then worked out in Long Boat Key. I started a time share
thing. It was a troubled project. Magnificent building, but we just
couldn't sell it. So I went to Long Boat Key and started a marketing
program and the sales were good and my idea was to be with them for a year
to get it off the ground. And jsut about two weeks before the year ended,
I got a call from Leonard Rosen.
D--That was what year?
C--It was about 3 years ago. In between that there was a project I was in-
volved in with some developer for about two and a half years. We built a
, '/ cluster
great little project here called Pepperwood in Kendall. And it's & probably the
nicest development out here. STrange as it may seem, I sold the whole
thing out in 30 days. With no advertising. I just put up two billboards
and the people came in. I sold 68 units in 30 days. But I stayed with
them for two and a half years.
Well, basically condo. sales and townhome sales. I learned a lot about
construction. What I learned in 10 or 12 years, I could probably build
a house with my own hands. But I sold. I got out in the field, and this
Pepperwood thing was a pretty interesting project because it had 68 homes.
We started out with. 3' models and built about 68 custom homes. We took
them from the models and customized each one. And they paid a lot of
money just in custom changes. So, that's what I've been doing.
D--In your opinion, who do you think were the most important people in
Gulf American, besides Leonard and Jack?
C--Besides Leonard and Jack, a lot of people. I would say, I was very ins-
trumental. I ran sales for a lot of years. Kenny Schwartz was a key
figure. Kenny was like mayor of Cape Coral. Of course, Kenny left
early. Kenny left in '64. Eddie Pacelli was a giant force. JIm
Layden. Leonard's attorney, Bernie Herzfeld. Benie was a key advisor
to the Rosens. BErnie was a very honorable, very astute attorney. Good
business man. Bernie was an important guy. In the sales area, guys like
Vic Sanders who ran the phone room. A guy like Lester Morris who was a
guy in charge of all our party programs. A guy like Bob Carrell. There's
somebody who you ought to talk to. Bob Carrell. You can reach Bob Carrell
at Avatar today. Bob Carrell was like my direct assistant' for the admin-
istration of all the sales. And really, all of us at the same time were
like an aid to Jack Rosen. And Bob Carrell has got like a photographic
memory. lie can give you a lot of things because he remembers what I
don't. You can reach Bob Carrell at 442-7000. That's Avitar. And you
can have lunch with Bob and he'll fill you in on a lot of stuff. Bob
was an important guy. Connie Mack who was really the name. A guy like
Bill Stern that we hired.
C--Bill Stern was like the dean of all the sportscasters. And Bill Stern
had a bad automobile accident and lost a leg., And during that period,
he became addicted to drugs because of morphine, the drug that he was
on. lie became a drug addict. ANd a real bad one. He had to go.to a
sanitarium. Then he came out and was trying to make a comeback in sports
broadcasting and I hired Bill. I was doing some commercials and he was
one doing a little sports segment there. And I hired Bill to be the
voice of Gulf Anerican. And he made all our films, He was the voice of
Gulf American. So Bill STern was a big part. You know, you can just go
on and on and on. I could give you a hundred people. There is another
guy. The guy that flew back from Germany. Jack Rosen, before he died,
this guy named Dan Coel. Dan Coel was the guy in charge of recruiting
brokers. lie would travle throughout the country recruiting brokers.
Dan Cole owns the Quadrangle G:alleries up here in North Miami Beach.
look it up in the phonebook, Quadrangle Galleries. Dan can give you some
stuff. Look Len Rich up in the phonebook. lie's up there too.
D--What did he do?
C--Len was the director of sales. You've got his name up there. He's a guy
with some good memories. But you know, you've got a list you could go
donw, a hundred people, two hundred people. WE had 5000 people. And it
was a strange thing, the Rosen brothers were good guys, but they were not
generous guys. 'They didn't pay big numbers. None of us made a lot of
moeny. They didn't pay big salaries, but the company was like a religion.
There was the thing that it was almost like an honor to work for that com-
pany. So the pay was short, but think of all the pride. I didn't start
making good money until GAC took over., That's when I started to make
decent money. With the Rosen boys, there was a lot of promises they gave
stock options, but they didn't want you to sell it. But we didn't starve.
We made a living. But they weren't over generous. It wasn't a thing where
today you'll see a company's sales managers make 2 or 3 hundred thousand.
We didn't make that. We just made a living and that was it. VWe enjoyed
our work. VWE liked Jack and we liked Leonard. It was like a family.
D--I understand that the Rosens had quite an art collection. They had an
art gallery. Iow big was that? Was it mostly...?
C--I would say the collection was 5 or 6 million dollars, 10 million dollars.
This is back in the sixties. Today it would be a lot more.
D--Was it mostly classical?
C--Uell, yes, some of the stuff. See, I bought stuff. This one here, that's
a fairly good painting by a Spanish artist. And these two are by an Is-
reali artist, a guy named Alfred Cullin. AId, here don't trip. This
was in Las Vegas. I think that a lot of it was sold. But there is still
a good portion of that collection left. And it's in our offices in Las
VEgas. You go through the accounting office and there are masterpieces
all over the wall. In my office I've got like eight or ten pieces.
Throughout the company it's there. Actually, today, what is left of that
collection is now an asset to that company.
D--That was one of my next questions, what happened to it?
C--I don't Ikow what happened with all of it. I really am not sure if Lco-
nard earned it earlier or the company. I don't remember if it was an
asset of the company before. I don't Iaow what happened to it over the
years. There's still probably, maybe on the books, give or take a million
dollars today. It's an asset of the company. But Linda can buy pieces
at book value, that's his daughter.She intends to buy several pieces.
And some of the other key employees can buy at book value.
J)--Was that, down there with art gallery down in Miami, was that a big
drawing card or do people come to see that?
C--Not that much. We had an 11 story building and we had one whole floor
which was an art gallery., The second floor was a gallery. A -10,000
square foot gallery. And as you got off the elevator there was this
huge Picasso which was.... The Picasso had to be about 4 feet by 6 feet.
Giant Picasso painting, right in the entrance as you walked in there.
But he had one or two of all the great masters. Some of them, a lot
moree, And then, in addition to that, he went very heavy on Mexican art.
/ e had a lot of'Tamias. All the great Mexican artists. He had a lot of
D--!3ack completely off the artwork. I heard it said that sometimes Gulf
AMerican would when they were getting new property in Cape Coral and
some of the other places, that they would only get an option on land
and you know, sell lots from that, but then once they sold a certain
percentage, from that piece of land tht they would actually go through
with the purchase of that land. Do you know anything about that or was
that something taht a lot of developers did?
C--I don't think so. I would say if it was clone it may have been done
with tht first piece, but I doubt it. You know, before you sell land,
you've got to go through a process with the state, and I don't thing the
state would allow you to sell land that you didn't own. Or at least had
a mortgage with a lease clause in it. To pick up a piece of land on an
option and get state approval would be impossible. You couldn't do it.
I think that was just one of those little fables.
D--Another totally unrelated question. Some people have said that the in-
stallments land sales board, all the grief that the corporation had had
with that board, a lot of it was sponsored by Claude Kirk when he was
governor, that he had a vendetta or something or wanted to see Gulf
American out of business. Do you know anything about that?
C--I heard also, I don't know firsthand, but that Kirk vwas not friendly with
leonard supported who was running against Kirk, Hayden Burns. And I guess
he felt that Kirk shouldn't get in, but he got in. And Kirk was not a
friend of Gulf AMerican by any means. The coin turned when GAC took over.
Claude Kirk was a big friend of the company. He helped GAC quite a bit.
D--In what ways? How did he help?
C--Renember we had a big inaugural meeting, where we brought in bankers and
brought in all our -managers. GAC took over, and someplace in the Pocons.
we had a big meeting. And the guest speaker was Claude Kirk. And I
don't know what Kirk specifically did, but I Imow that Iayward Mills was
close with Kirk. So it's nothing more than the fact that Kirk was friend-
ly with the company. Maybe that's all the help that they needed, just
knowing that Kirk was in favor of them. In fact, when they opened the
movie house in Cape Coral, Claude Kirk and I cut the ribbon.
D--I made a list of a few people here and we talked about some of these
people. i ylhe you could comment some on what some of these people did.
Joe Maddlone, do you know where, is he still alive?
C--I don't Inow., I haven't seen Joe or talked to him, but he lived in
Coral Gables, last time he called.
D--Phat did he do?
C-- Joe Iladdlone was incharge of special projects and in charge of filings.
Hle was the guy who would prepare all the state filings. And he worked with reg-
ulatory agencies. lie was really a liaison with regulatory agencies. And in-
volved in special projects. I think Joe was a former banker. Nice guy.
D--How long was he with the corporation?
C--Joe, a lot of years. About 10 or 12 or 20 years. Milt Mendelson?
Well, Milt was that rascal that we met donw in Harbour Heights. And
Iilt was very close with Leonard for a lot of years. As a matter of
fact, I understand that Milt was out here at the beginning of this new
one helping him to get started. But Milt was involved in every deal in
working with the engineers and getting the original planning done, and
Milt worked with us on the initial promotional material for each of the
projects. I remember Milt and I used to battle over the names. Milt
said everything had to have two initials. Because that's where he got
Cape Coral, C.C., River Ranch, R.R. Milt was superstitious, it had to
have double initials, Golden Gate. Milt was sort of a rascal, as I
say. I remember he and I had an argument one day and he had a favorite
saying of people. He'd say, "Hepner, you know how much you know about
the land buisness, the only thing you know about land is the dirt that
you have under your fingernails." He used to come up with these things
all the time. But he was a likeable guy. Very knowledgeable guy. That
was it. He was involved in the initial planning of all these things.
D--I understand, I guess it was Kenny Schwartz told me that he was involved
later on in writing some sort of book about Leonard's life.
C--Not to my knowledge.
D--Well, it's pretty dead. I was just wondering whatever happened to it.
What about Sol Sandler?
C--I wish I could remember what Saul did, I knew he was there. I just don't
remember what Sol function was. I know he worked with Leonard and I
think basically Sol.. was involved in special projects. He was pretty
knowledgable and just across the board worked in different things. And
I think he was also involved in the administration and customer service.
IHe had a couple of people report to him.
D--Is he still around or do you know?
C--Yes. Sol's around. I saw Sol at Leonard's funeral. He is in Florida.
Sol lives in Hollywood, you could probably find him there if you wanted.
I've got his phone number. Sol is retired now. His wife passed away.
Saul was married to Sylvia, Jack and Leonard's sister. Sylvia died of
cancer maybe 10 or 12 years ago. Saul has since remarried and he plays
golf just about every day. That's his life. But I saw him at the funeral.
C--Harry Hirsch worked at Cape Coral., He was a salesman and then manager.
He was about so tall, a little guy like a bulldog. Quick closer, always
/ "Cold-line" sales
a good manager, a nice guy, good company man. He's gone now. He's finished.
D--Now, a lot of these guys I don't even know what they did, but theri names
C--Bernie Musket? Bernie Musket was a manager under Kenny Schwartz. Bernie
was a lover, he married his wife three times. But, a good looking guy.
Bernie was a bartender in Ft. Myers and Pacelli hired him as a salesman
then we put him on the road as a broker. And then he ended up as a man-
ager under Kenny Schwartz for the cold prospect line. He was a pretty
capable guy. Connie Mack was a son of the famous Connie Mack, the manager.
Connie Mack, Jr. Tall, lanky guy. Nice fellow and very honorable.
He was constantly complaining about the sales men and that they were
going to get the company in trouble and be put out of business. And
he was finally right. It took eight years, but we were finally sus-
pended. Connie was like our goodwill ambassador. He was in FT. Myers.,
He was on the property everyday. He was very visible, and that was it.
He kept the guys straight. He was our broker. Connie's still around.
He's in Ft. Myers. Older guy now. YOu could probably still find him in
C--Bernice was, she was involved with that house agency. And Bernice was
like the media. She did all the buying. She scheduled all the radio
spots and T.V. spots and newspaper. She was our chief media buyer for the
agency. She was around for a lot of years. She had worked with the
Rosen boys in their previous business. She worked with Antell and she
came into the land business.
D--Is her memory pretty good?
C-Yes. She is in Baltimore, you can find her. I saw Bernice. She was at
the funeral also. But Bernice's memory should be very very good.
D-Eileen Bernard. She wrote the book on..,..
C--Ilene wrote the book and Ilene would be the editor of our newspaper, the
Cape Coral Sun. So she did the newspaper. That was basically waht she did.
And then she just recently wrote the book.
C--Bob Finkernagel was our director of P.R. I saw Bob at the funeral.
Unfortunately Bob has been afflicted with Parkinson's. He's got a speech
impediment but a sweet guy. I was pretty close with him. We went to
Europe about ten years ago, his wife, my wife, myself. We travelled
around Europe and had a great time., He was director of P.R. After he
left the company-he was one of those nine guys that was fired. He '
ultimately acquired the Cape Coral Breeze newspaper. Owned the news-
paper for a number of years and I think sold it to the New York Times.
And I don't know what he's doing today, but he's in Cape Coral, I think
he's retired. He's as nice of a person as anyone you can find, And Dick
Sayersworked under Finkernagel. He was like a director of P.R. at the
property of Cape Coral. He was like our P.R. man on site. He knew every-
body in town, knew all the politicians. Dick Sayers is still around.
Bernie Herzfeld, the attorney and one of the real.assets of the company,
for Leonard and Jack.
D-You mentioned Tom Weber.
C-Tom, -we talked about. Kenny you know. Eddie Pacelli worked for Bill
REynolds., I don't know if Eddie was salesman on that first piece of
property, but he worked on it though.
D-He was involved somehow,
C--Yes, he worked in that office and Leonard like him and hired him. Eddie
came in an ended up as a vice president of the company in charge of all
Florida sales. He worked under me. He spent years out on the road. He
did a lot of things with the company. He was hardworking guy. And Bill
Carmine was one of our early attorneys. He was our local attorney in Ft.
Myers, he was involved in a myriad of things early in the game. And then
they phased him out after a while. But he may still be around. Ray
Heyer that name does not ring a bell. I don't know who that is. And
Bob Henshaw, I don't know what he did, I remember him. He worked on the
property there. I think he started as a salesman but then he got in-
volved in Cape Coral Realty there, which was like a resale company.
But he wasn't really a key figure.,
D--The company itself didn't handle any resales?
C-We had a resale company. We had a separate corporation set up.
D-What was the name of that?
C--Cape Coral REalty. And we set it up primarily to take listings and resell
property. We sold a lot of property for people.
C-Seperate company. We had an office their in Cape Coral. Everybody knew
it was a company subsidiary, We said that if somebody wanted to sell
their property we would take a listing., We were like one of many
brokers in Cape Coral.
D-So, it wasn't like an exclusive deal.,
C-No. We had many, many brokers in Cape Coral. Many brokers today.
D-You might not know this, but what was the relationship between Gulf
American and the Lee County government? Like the commission and stuff
like that., Were relations cordial, were they at each others throats?
C-I would say they were as cordial as they could be., They gave us our
approval on whatever we had to have., I can't recall any irritating sit-
uations really., It could be, maybe in the end, around the suspension time
there may be, if we dragged our feet on some development they would be
on us, I think that considering the size of our project and the many
involvements and many problems to be considered, our relationship with
Lee County was pretty good. They did their job, They weren't lenient
with us, they weren't tough with us., Just middle of the road.,
D-O.K., Anything else you can think of, maybe something else. Tell me a.
little bit more of who Leonard Rosen was.
C-Well, I could tell you more, but I wouldn't get into that., I was pretty
close with Leonard for a lot of years. But he was just a very dynamic
fearless person. He would walk into the jaws of death and not care. He
was really a fearless guy, very bold person, At times, arrogant. And
down underneath, Leonard was really a soft guy, I say I knew him, I
knew Leonard where I travelled with him on the road. I can remember,
well we went back, we mentioned Charles Antel, He had a network show,
He used to do the network show, everyday, five days a week., I probably
didn't see my wife for months. We used to work on the show. The show
would go on at ten in the morning., It was a half hour network show. I
directed the show, So, we would do the show and the show would go off
the air at 10:30. At 11:00 we were back in our offices,, We had separate
offices to do this production, And we would start writing the show for
the next day, And we wouldn't finish this thing until sometime late in
the evening. We'd go through all day writing the show, A lot df stuff
to put together a network show,.. And then, I would get home very late,.
My wife's probably asleep., But I'd be up like 5:30 in the morning
because I had to be there at 7:00 for rehearsal the next day for the
show., But we produced the show from 7 to about 9, take a break. Go
on the air at 9:30 or 10:00, do the show and at 11:00 you are back in
the hotel room writing the show for the next day, So this was the way
that the thing went, Now, ydu can understand the pressure, One day,
I remember it was over Joan Blondell, Joan Blondell was going to be
on the show the next day, And Ernie wants to do something to Joan Blon-
dell. I was in direct opposition to what he wanted to do., And he and I
battled over it. He was going to embarress her or something., I thought
he would, and he and I just battled about while we were writing the show
in the afternoon, And Ernie quit., He said, "Screw it, I'm done, I'm
finished., That's it, goodbye, I quit." And I tried to call him later
that evening and he wouldn't answer the phone, It was about 6:00, So
I go up to Leonard and said that Ernie quit, So he said, "LEt's go have
a drink," We went around the corner and had a martini and a second mar-
tini, but I remember how understanding he was,. And he knew that my argu-
ment with Ernie blew itr, He was understanding. He didn't degregate me,
He didn't preach to me., I still remember, it was nothing of great sig-
nificance, but he said, "Hepner, now matter how dark something may look
today, if you have faith and hang in there, something better is going to
come up," That's what he said to me,, That wasn't all that profound. We
had another martini. But anyhow, at about 11:00 that night, I got a call
/ ,; (,58
from Erniv I He called me at home and said, "I'm sorry., We'll go on to-
morrow., We'll swing it tomorrow., It will be a good show,," And we went
on and it was a good show., And after that ERnie was very meek., Some-
thing about happened., He just change., He was a very, very arrogant per-
son.. And after that he became a different person,, And he was easy to
work with., We were on the air for like 39 weeks with that hqw,., But
in many instances I would spend time with Leonard. We'd go out to dinner,
we'd do other things., And he was really a verysoft person when you got
to know him., He was a nice person., If you got into a business situa-
tion he was like a tiger, lie would rip you to shreds,, But underneath,
Leonard was a nice guy,. His brother, Jack was a prince of people., Jack
would give his life for people, He just loved people that much, He
was a unique guy, They both were,, Unique guys, And they were both
very devoted to their mother, Their mother was Fannie, Fannie, they
were always Fannie's little boys, So, that's about it,
D--One follow up question, Could you give the address of this office in
Baltimore,. What, was it?
C-That was A Charles Street, The building is faced on 25th Street, They
are still there,
D-Good., I think that we've covered pretty much everything, We'll stop.,