*Translated in English by Maria Stenos
Name: John Catsimatidis
Company :Red Apple Group
Resides: in Upper East Side, the best and most expensive part of Manhattan
Smokes: his beloved Cuban cigars
Owns: a private jet, which he uses to visit Greece when he has a chance
Family status: married to beautiful wife Margo, with whom he has two children
The fortune of Mr. John Catsimatidis (who grew up in Harlem, the poorest borough of New York City) today exceeds the billion dollar mark, despite that the company that he owns includes many businesses. It is the largest chain of super markets of New York and Florida, and includes 400 gas stations, but he also works with Real Estate. His organization has 8,500 employees. While he was studying at NYU, he was working as an employee of a super market, though he never managed to get his degree. Despite the fact that he never finished, this University (which is one of top ten Universities in the US) granted him an honorary Doctorate. He was also declared the businessman of the year for 1997. He is big donor for many different organizations, from the Orthodox Church to the Democratic Party. We set an appointment with the every-busy Greek immigrant business-man who built, starting from nothing, the 8th largest company operating in New York.
What are your potential business ventures?
We recently managed to organized 450 million so we could buy another gasoline company. We are still building a large neighborhood of 1,400,000 square feet in Brooklyn that will include houses, apartments, and businesses. The problem in this whole endeavor is the terrible state of the banks that don’t have the money to fund us. So we are working slowly. The first part will be ready at the end of 2009.
What’s your opinion on Barrack Obama?
I am very good friends with the Clinton family. I believe that Barrack is very young and does not have adequate experience to become president. The other candidate, McCain presents some unpleasant issues as well, but I think that he is a good American and that’s probably why I will vote for him.
Yes, but Hillary, who is also your friend, called for her supporters to vote for Obama…
I cannot support Obama’s side
You believe that Clinton would have been a good President? A
Better than McCain?
I heard that you recently met with the Pope…
Yes, it was me, Archbishop Bartholomeus and the Pope. I am a member of the group of people who are trying to bring the two churches closer, because if we have a war with the Muslims all us Christians should be united.
Do you consider yourself an American or a Greek?
An American who was born in Greece, specifically in Nisiros. That means that I am an American but I have a Greek heart and I love Greece.
You have lived and are living what is called the American dream, describe and tell us what you changed in yourself all these years?
First off, we created the American Dream. If you want to believe in business you can, as long as you are ready to make sacrifices. The only change that I have made for myself is that I don’t work seven days a week like I used to work the past 35 years. In 35 years I didn’t work about 20 days. Now I no longer care about more money, but I want to maintain what I have and to have some fun with my life.