After Y2K I was sort of at a crossroads. I'd been waiting for my dad to finally let me 100 percent take over Persico's Pizza like he'd been promising since I started working there when I was 12 years old. I was now 37.After talking to him and having a long heart to heart, I explained that I needed to take over the pizza store full time and I had waited long enough. In a nutshell he told me "Sorry. I feel bad but I can't give it to you. I don't want to retire." His suggestion...go get another job and he told me he only needed me to work the evenings from now on 7 days a week, but I would have the daytime free. Oh and by the way, he also said, "Just make sure you're available when we have those occasional big orders because I can't do it by myself. I'll need your help." So where the hell did that leave me? I was shocked and scared. How would I support my family? After coming up with many, many different ideas and coming up short, at the time we had been in the market to purchase a home. I saw a random sign, called the number on the sign and met a young lady at a house here in Downey. I was less than impressed with her demeanor, her attitude and professionalism. I thought to myself as she was showing me the house, "this can't possibly be her listing." So I asked her, "Is this your listing?" and she said, "Yes." Well OK, the house wasn't for us but I realized that if she could do this...I could do this. In the meantime, still looking for homes, I called some guy named Michael Berdelis to show me some houses. I told him my situation regarding my work. I asked him if he thought maybe real estate was the solution because of the flexible hours. He said yes and that his dad actually taught classes at the Prudential office on Florence Avenue. I started classes on May 9, 2002 and got officially licensed by the Department of Real Estate as a Realtor on May 22, 2002. I started doing all the regular things that new agents do. My first sale came at the very end of the year and it was my in-laws house on 4th Place. It felt like a gimme. And I remember thinking "I'm glad I have a pizza store job to at least make something and we'd have good food to eat. And there's never a lack of food and I don't miss many meals to this day." But I continued to train and do all of the things that Rita Berdelis told me to do even though I had my doubts. And much to my surprise, by the end of 2003 I found myself with 13 closed sales. The majority were listings here in Downey and I was named Prudential's Rookie of the Year. Mel and Rita sat down with me and my wife Kelly during the holidays. And in a very polite way told me I had to get out of the pizza store. I had to do this full time, that I had an AMAZING year as a part time agent. They knew the story about Persico's Pizza by now and I told them I promised my father that I would work evenings and I had to honor my promise. They respected my decision and it went on like that for another year. 2004 was an even more successful year than 2003. Near the end of 2004, my dad began to not feel well and through a small series of health related incidents he closed the restaurant early one day and called me to his house. I walked in the door and he handed me the keys. "It's yours. You can do what you want with it"...finally. I could hardly believe it myself when I said to him "I'm sorry, Pop. It's too late. I'm doing real estate. I love it and I can't do both. I suggest we put the store for sale." And we did. After being relieved of having to work at Persico's Pizza, which was bittersweet, it allowed me the time to devote to my new career. No more pizza man. The last 10 years have brought numerous local, state, and national awards and accolades. Virtually all of my business is referral-based. From friends, family, church, Kelly's school friends, etc. 10 years has flown by and I never looked back.
********** Published: June 28, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 11