In what part of town do you live?
In the Ponce Davis area.
How long have you lived in the area?
We moved here this year. We were in the Grove, we had a really nice little house. With baby number two, you stop idolizing the Grove. Our new area is great because the lots are two times the size of the Grove and the Gables is still nearby. It’s a bike ride from Pinecrest market. I think everyday I meet a new neighbor who’s moving here with a young family, so it’s got a lot of gravity right now.
What keeps you busy during the week?
My week is dominated by aviation inputs. Our core business is trading aircraft parts, helping the repair stations for a lot of the airlines that we fly. My job is to sit nicely in their supply chain and help them save money by not purchasing new parts. We buy used aircraft parts, tear them down, sort through the good parts and we re-list them. We’re kind of a recycler in the industry. Obviously COVID set us back.
How did you pivot?
When COVID hit in February, I got into the sanitizer business with a very good friend of mine whose family runs Mexico’s largest consumer goods company. We had access to manufacturers who could make sanitizer. We sent millions of units into New York when they were having their spike. It felt pretty good. But then, as my brother shared last week, after losing my dad to COVID, I felt kind of defeated. I had championed caution and then COVID sneaks up on you. My dad was a business partner of mine as well. So it’s been a hell of a year. Now, my day is going back to aviation, which is a good sign that the market is recovering.
Would you like to share about your dad?
My dad is a great story about coming here and having to make it without his parents – definitely in the same camp as a lot of Cubans. He didn’t complain, he sold shoes, and went through school. He really is like a patriarch of big accounting here in South Florida. He is one of the first Hispanics to get recognition for his field. I’m very grateful to be the son of an accountant. It gives you a very good business acumen because you’re sitting in a restaurant and he’s talking to you about their PNL and how things are going in the books. It gives you an education beyond the face value of things. It’s really paid off for me and my brothers. He is one of those great boy-dads who really set up his kids to carry the torch.
Why did you go into aviation?
I started in a sales related tech startup based in New York and Miami. It was a real grind. One day I was on a friend’s boat and I was saying how much I didn’t enjoy my days. He brought me into his aircraft business and I started as a warehouse guy and ‘cut my teeth.’ I learned a lot of the backend of running several companies that they have. I learned ‘the plumbing’ of a business. I worked in their manufacturing and machining company. I learned great lessons about mistakes and people counting on you, lead times, and if you quote something you have to deliver it. Then, I took the shot to do it on my own and sell used ‘piece parts’ because I saw the market. When you’re young and passionate about something, you attract good mentors in the industry. I was lucky to align with the patriarchs of Miami aviation. I’ve been very grateful to have very good mentors.
Would you share about how you have found mentors, or advise people on what to look for and how to find a mentor?
It’s a good question, I say my real skill is learning who to learn from. What you really need to do with a mentor is give more than you get. If they’re going to spend time to teach you things, obviously they might feel good about doing it and passing on knowledge, but you need to put something on the table for them. Be a good listener, ask the right questions, and make them proud to teach you. You don’t need an agenda for what they’re going to teach you, you just need them to want to teach and you’ll learn something. Anyone could be a mentor, ‘what can we learn from each other?’ Think, what does this person excel at? My dad was a fantastic mentor. I’ve learned plenty of accounting stories from him that have been applied elsewhere in life.
You’ve mentioned other interests outside of aviation. What else is keeping you busy?
A good tool of mine has been a highly curated Twitter feed. I spend a lot of time on social media, mostly on Twitter, and a big portion of it curating what kind of inputs I get and what kind of knowledge it teaches me. It got me into Bitcoin pretty early. That was a good win that allowed me to speculate outside of aviation and made me comfortable with risk and loss. It gave me a lot of confidence to be multidisciplinary, like getting involved with sanitizers last year for COVID. Lately I’ve been working on the tech and venture transplants who are moving to Miami. It’s kind of a Miami Localist thing. I want to help small businesses because it improves Miami.
What is it about Bitcoin that makes it special?
It gives you sovereignty to opt out of an unfair system. My dad was extremely interested in Bitcoin. He wouldn’t have been poor coming here from Cuba, if it existed back then. Nobody can tell you that you cannot own it, and that’s a very powerful thing.
It’s near 40K this week, are you still long on Bitcoin?
Yes. I sold some to keep the business going this year but there’s nothing worse than knowing that I won’t get that coin back. I’m extremely long on the remaining holdings. I want to be long on Bitcoin until my daughters ask me for it.
You and your daughter came by the drive through last week. What’s bringing you to the stand, what it is like coming to the drive through?
I’m really grateful for the weekend to be honest with you. COVID has thrown off what the weekday looks like when you’re home with the kids, but your attention span might be at work. A weekend is really important for us because it gives me the one-on-one time with my daughters. The ritual is that they have daddy’s attention and I’m really grateful for that.
About coming to the stand, and not even in an interview sense – starts with being Localist by the term as defined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a very famous author on risk. Localism scales from the bottom up. It starts with the family unit. The community is more important than the nation. I try to live by that. Your smoothie is like tasting all the incredible flavor that’s in our backyard. I think you guys are a very important part of the Miami Localist agenda. Beyond this interview, I’m happy to help you whatever your plans are as you want to grow. You’re an amplification of my motto of living by localism.
From a Localist’s perspective, are there any other local business that you would like to share?
I’ll give some shout outs. My friend Josh from Premium Meats is in the wagyu business. He’s gone from being an incredible host where you would get meat from his house. And now, he’s in the Bird Road Arts District. He started by ordering wagyu beef for himself, and then thought his friends would like some too. He’s got a real passion for it and he’s happy to talk any cut of cow. I want to frequent places where the passion is coming from the owner like that because it’s gonna bleed into the bite or the sip that you have.
What is Miami’s best kept secret?
Objectively, I think you guys are probably it. I made a list of 60 restaurants for Miami’s newcomers. You guys are on that list and I’m telling people on the beach, that they should rent a car if needed to get to your stand. I want to get a smoothie of yours for the venture capitalists moving here and see their reaction when you say these fruits were grown 30 minutes away.
What a worthy splurge for you?
Material things are fleeting. I would just say, an experience or a memory.
What community groups or philanthropic groups are important to you and your family that you might like to promote?
My dad always did a lot for the United Way. I ‘m almost moved to tears every time I see a St Jude or Nicholas children’s hospital story. We’ve had to go to Nicklaus Children’s hospital a couple of times for my daughter. You get nervous about what might be wrong; now she’s okay. And then, you have compassion for the people next to you and what they’re going through. That’s really where I think you can make a difference.
We always ask people if they would like to share a pitch about their business or a project they’re working on, is there something you would like to share about your business?
My business is really B2B. My pitch will be for the City of Miami. I think it’s probably the hottest city in America right now. It has always been a place for refugees. Now it’s like a refuge for Californians and for New Yorkers who are oppressed with high taxes and not a lot of local help. I would pitch everybody reading this to really pay attention to the Miami movement attracting some of the brightest people to come and build a company here. I attribute this to Mayor Francis Suarez and Daniella Levine Cava who have done a great job of listening to these guys.
It there a question that you would like to ask us?
(AC) We’re loving the veggie box and we’ve been dipping into the avocados. They are incredible. But, they are not Florida avocados, right?
(A+W) They are Florida Avocados grown on our farm. This variety is called Choquette. They are so good this time of the year because it is the very end of the season and we let them hang on the tree until they are more mature. Most people pick them too soon and that’s why people think Florida avocados are watery.
(AC) I’ve never had a Florida avocado that is this delicious.
Is there a challenge, question, or words of advice that you would like to pose to the community?
I challenge everybody to kind of take on localism. I want Miami to be an incredible city.
What have I not asked that I should have?
I guess considering that my theme was very Localist Miami, I guess, where did I grow up? I love driving out to your stand because I can take the long way back and drive by where we grew up. We grew up very humble, across from McMillan High school. When my dad did a little bit better, we moved to a town house on sunset, and eventually to Pinecrest. I was a Kendall guy and proud of my dad’s elevation through his accounting career. My lens for how good Miami can be starts with the incredible childhood he provided.