Το βιογραφικό του Γιάννη Κατσιματίδη
John A. Catsimatidis
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|John A. Catsimatidis|
Self portrait, 2011
|Born||September 7, 1948 |
|Occupation||Businessman, political candidate|
John A. Catsimatidis (born September 7, 1948) is a Greek-American businessman from New York City. He is the owner, president, chairman, and CEO of the Gristedes Foods, the largest grocery chain in Manhattan, and the Red Apple Group, areal estate company with about $700 million to $800 million in holdings. Catsimatidis also owns the Hellenic Times, a Greek-American newspaper based in Manhattan.
The Red Apple Group also has holdings in aviation and real estate interests in New York, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
He is a candidate for mayor in the 2013 New York City mayoral election.
Catsimatidis was born on the island of Nisyros, Greece on September 7, 1948. He came to the United States with his parents when his was six months old.
The family moved to West Harlem, where Catsimatidis grew up. Catsimatidis' father had been a lighthouse operator in Greece but worked as a busboy in New York.Catsimatidis graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1966. He received a congressional nomination to West Point, but chose to study electrical engineering atNew York University instead.
While in college, Catsimatidis worked for the uncle of a friend, Tony, in a small supermarket on 137th Street which Tony and his uncle owned.  While Catsimatidis was still in college, Tony sold his half of the store to Catsimatidis. Catsimatidis completed four years of college, but dropped out eight credits short of graduating.
In 1971, Catsimatidis was able to open his first store of his own, at Broadway and 99th Street, without any bank debt. Shortly thereafter, he purchased another grocery store on 87th street just west of Broadway, naming it Red Apple. Among his business innovations were staying open late seven days a week, offering free delivery, and cashing checks for customers. Catsimatidis has stated that by the time he was 24 years old, "I built up ten stores and the business was doing $25 million a year, and I was personally earning a million dollars a year."
By summer of 1981, Red Apple had 27 stores in the Bronx and Manhattan and annual sales of around $40 million. These grew to $110 million in sales in 1985. In 1986, Red Apple purchased 36 Gristede Brothers supermarkets and 11 affiliated Charles & Co. specialty-food stores from the Southland Corporation.
A certified jet pilot, Catsimatidis has been involved in the airline industry since the early 70's. His holdings in the aviation industry have included a fleet of leased commercial aircraft operated as C&S Acquisition and Capitol Air Express. His corporate jet company, United Air Fleet, operated as many as forty corporate aircraft.
In 1986 the Gristedes supermarket chain was acquired by the Red Apple Group. There are over 30 stores in the chain operating throughout Manhattan and a single store in Brooklyn and Scarsdale.
In 1987, Catsimatidis purchased United Refining Company of Warren, PA., a company founded in 1902, for $7.5 million after the company had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and was in danger of liquidation under $120 million of debt. Operated as a subsidiary of Red Apple Group, United, as of December 2012 filed annual profits of $190 million, currently employs over 4,000 people and the refinery processes 70,000 barrels of oil a day providing fuel to the company's 375 Kwik Fill/Red Apple food marts and gas stations, as well as associated motels and truck stops, in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
The company emphasizes that it uses North American oil in its operations and sales.
The employees of the Warren refinery are represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers.
In October 2009, Forbes Magazine reported that United Refining Energy Corp., a publicly traded special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by United Refining, was purchasing "privately held Chaparral Energy in a deal worth roughly $1.6 billion."  However, United Refining Energy Corp. shareholders did not approve the deal and it was terminated in December 2009.
As of November 2012, the Red Apple Group ranked 97th on Forbes list of largest private companies with revenue of $4 billion and 8,000 employees. (This compares to its 2008 and 2009 rank, both at #100, 2010 at #78, and 2011 at 98th).
In 2008 Catsimatidis became engaged in efforts to take over SemGroup LP, a bankrupt oil, gas, and asphalt trading, storage and transportation company headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Catsimatidis gained control over a majority of the company's management committee, but his efforts were met by opposition from the company's existing management, who argued for selling off at least some of the company's assets, while Catsimatidis stated his intention to keep the company together. On February 11, 2009, Catsimatidis was sued by a group of SemGroup executives, seeking removal of Catsimatidis and his allies from the committee. In July Catsimatidis reached a settlement with SemGroup, pursuant to which he acquired a piece of SemGroup's asphalt business and dropped his competing plan for the company's proposed reorganization.
Political activities before mayoral campaigns
Catsimatidis and his wife have made contributions to a variety of both Republican and Democratic campaigns. Among Republicans, the Catsimatidises contributed over $60,000 to the Republican National Committee, and have also made significant contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, Mitt Romney, Eric Cantor, Olympia Snowe, Richard Lugar, and others. Among Democrats handful of Democratic campaigns, including to Carolyn B. Maloney, Charlie Rangel, and Jerrold Nadler. In local New York City races, Catsimatidis has given to Bill de Blasio (while he was a city councilman), Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, and Staten Island borough president James Molinaro. In the 1992 Democratic primaries, Catsimatidis contributed $150,000 to the campaign of fellow Greek American Paul Tsongas.
Catsimatidis put on a fundraiser in 2006 with Michael Bloomberg for Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to support his run as an independent after he lost theDemocratic primary nomination for reelection to the Senate.
Catsimatidis has been described as a "longtime," "loyal," and "high-level Clinton donor." Catsimatidis donated a significant sum to the Clinton Presidential Center, thought to be between $100,000 and $500,000. Catsimatidis was a member of the Hillary Rodham Clinton finance team during her 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, stating in February 2007 of Clinton: "She's unstoppable. She's got such a machine." Catsimatidis hosted a fundraising dinner with Bill Clinton at his home in New York that raised $275,000 for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Catsimatidis has stated that he is friends with Bill Clinton and that the former president "often" has flown in one of Catsimatidis' two airplanes. Hillary Clinton attended Catsimatidis' daughter's wedding.
Catsimatidis has stated that the presidents he most admires are John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. He has said that the New York City mayor whom he most admires is Fiorello La Guardia.
Catsimatidis ranked #458 on Forbes magazine's March 2013 list of world billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $3 billion, up from #634 and $2 billion from the previous year). Similarly, in the September 2013 list of the Forbes "Richest People in America," Catsimatidis ranked as the 132nd richest person in America.
Consideration of 2009 mayoral campaign
A donor to Bill Clinton during the Clinton years, Catsimatidis, while still enrolled as a Democrat, considered making a bid in the 2009 mayoral election as a Republican. In May 2007, he was reported to be "systematically wooing local Republicans," attending various Republican fundraisers in Queens and Staten Island and stating that he would "probably have a press conference" to announce his intentions "sooner rather than later" and would consider spending between $30 million and $40 million if he ran.
In 2008, Catsimatidis was widely viewed as a potential mayoral candidate, along with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Representative Anthony Weiner, businessmanRichard Parsons, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. (the eventual Democratic nominee), and state Senator Martin Golden.By July 2008, Catsimatidis had formed an exploratory committee of advisors and operatives, including Robert Ryan, Alan Bernikow, Lawrence Mandelker, and Jose Ithier. McLaughlin & Associates was the committee's polling firm.
In 2009, Catsimatidis spent nearly $300,000, much of it on polls and consultants, to explore a candidacy. He said he only agreed to drop out after Mr. Bloomberg informed him of his plans to seek a third term. Once the city term limits law was changed to allow Bloomberg to run for a third term, Catsimatidis withdrew. The exploratory committee was officially shut down in May 2009.
2013 mayoral campaign
During the spring of 2012, Catsimatidis described his dismay over the quality of the announced as well as the presumed candidates. He suggested that he would supportNew York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, but as Kelly has repeatedly denied any intention to run, Catsimatidis has expressed his own interest.
In December 2012, Catsimatidis established an exploratory committee to consider running for mayor. He also filed paperwork with the New York City Campaign Finance Board on January 3, 2013.On January 14, he told the New York Post that he had just written his own check for one million dollars to seed his campaign.
Catsimatidis made his official announcement at City Hall on January 29, 2013, vowing to be "a leader for Harlem and Wall Street." He stated "I'm not a Mike Bloomberg billionaire. I'm not wearing a $5,000 suit."
Through May 15, Catsimatidis (a self-financed candidate) had spent $880,000 on the campaign, mostly on television and radio ads, but also on billboards and items including lip balm and groceries. He hired a campaign consulting firm, Millennial Strategies LLC, that mostly works on Democratic campaigns.
On a December 13 appearance on Inside City Hall, Catsimatidis compared raising taxes on the wealthy to how "Hitler punished the Jews," a remark which surprised hostJosh Robin.
Catsimatidis supports the New York City stop-and-frisk program. Two weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, his campaign ran a radio ad attacking "career politicians want to end stop and frisk and cut the NYPD's powers of surveillance." At a candidates' forum Catsimatis suggested that "a robot" or other future technology would make the stop-and-frisk program unnecessary in the future, but stated that until that time the program should continue.
Among the "off-the-cuff—and off-beat—policy proposals" that Catsimatidis has suggested during the campaign include giving police tricycles to improve mobility, allowingcasinos in hotels, and launching a program to give free pet food to people who adopt homeless animals. Catsimatis's economic proposals include a revival of the 1964 New York World's Fair." The New York Times reported that Catsimatis "struck an odd note when discussing education policy, expressing unease about the makeup of his daughter's graduating class from New York University's Stern School of Business," stating that "I think close to 480 of the 580 were Asian — Asian including India. And, it was scary. And then when you think about it, we’re going to deport most of these kids."
Catsimatidis has called for street vendors to be limited to certain areas, and a prohibition on setting up within 300-500 feet of stores selling the same products, complaining at a candidates' forum that "We have cart people right in front of our doorstep. They're selling bananas for half price in front of my own stores. That is wrong."
At campaign events in April, Catsimatidis claimed that he could have beaten Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election and got into a contentious exchange with various Republican audience members, telling one to "go bullshit yourself if you want!" A spokesman for the Lhota campaign stated that "anyone running for mayor should be able to offer substantive ideas and solutions to our city's problems without engaging in irrational and antagonistic exchanges with voters."
On May 13, the New York Post ran a story on Catsimatidis' comment in a 1989 Crain's New York Business profile in which he stated "I'm a Manhattanite. I feel sorry for those people who aren't." Catsimatidis's remark was criticized by Republican Guy Molinari, the former former Staten Island borough president and congressman, and Brooklyn Democratic councilman Lew Fidler, who called Catsimatidis a "Manhattan elitist."
Personal life and philanthropy
On October 2, 1988, Catsimatidis married Margo Vondersaar at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York. Margo met Catsimatidis when she was his secretary beginning in 1972. Catsimatidis had a previous marriage that ended in divorce and has stated that he was "sometimes" together with Margo while still married to his first wife. At the time of their marriage, Margo led her own advertising agency, MCV Advertising Associates in New York, and was president of The Hellenic Times.
Catsimatidis and his wife have two children, Andrea and John Jr. Andrea graduated from New York University, and married Christopher Cox, grandson of former President Richard Nixon, on June 4, 2011, at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, "before a church packed with family members and political powerhousess," including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Rudolph Giuliani, Charles Schumer, Ray Kelly, and Robert M. Morgenthau. An elaborate black-tiewedding reception for 700 guests was held at the Waldorf-Astoria. Catsimatidis stated that he spent "in excess of $1 million" on the wedding. Senator John McCain of Arizona was not invited, although Cox had worked on his 2008 presidential campaign, because McCain did not endorse Cox when he later ran (unsuccessfully) for Congress. Catsimatidis told the New York Post that "I thought that was low. I was just disgusted."
Catsimatidis is involved in philanthropy. He is one of the largest donors to the G&P Foundation for Cancer Research He founded and was co-chairman of Brooklyn Tech Endowment Foundation, benefiting his alma mater. Catsimatidis funds the John Catsimatidis Scholarship Fund at the New York University Stern School of Business, which has since 1988 awarded two scholarships each year. Catsimatidis was for five years president of the Manhattan Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He also served on the board of directors of the Police Athletic League of New York City. Catsimatidis was also on the board of directors of the Drum Major Institute.Other organizations with which Catsimatidis has been active are the National Kidney Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Young Men's Philanthropic League, and Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Catsimatidis was the vice-chairman of the Ellis Island Awards Foundation of the National Ethnic Coalition Organization (NECO), and received an Ellis Island Medal of Honor from that organization.