Photo: Donna Victor
Norman Braman is a ‘Florida Icon'
During the racial confrontations in the 1970s and 1980s, only 500 yards from where we’re sitting, this area was on fire. Biscayne Boulevard, where you see all the construction going on, was an area inhabited by hookers, drug dealers. When the sun went down, you didn’t even want to be here. To see the area change has been something that has been marvelous for ourselves from a business standpoint, but more importantly the community. The hookers are gone. The drug dealers are gone. Families have come into the area. I came here in ’69 with my wife and two very young daughters.
I came here to retire. I had been working seven days a week and six nights a week. I sold my interest (in Philadelphia Pharmaceuticals) for seven figures, which in 1969 dollars was a hell of a lot of money. I was 36. I did it basically because I wanted to preserve my family.
I drove my daughters to school. I picked them up. They were very, very happy years. I went back to work because I had to. It was a question of living the way we wanted to live and doing the things we really wanted to do.
We opened a new Audi dealership in West Palm Beach. We’re building a new Porsche dealership. When that’s completed, we start construction on a new Rolls-Royce dealership, a new Bentley dealership. By the time we’re finished with everything, it’ll be $200 million, doing what we think is necessary for the future of our Norman Braman ( Auto dealer, art collector, Miami; age 84 ) businesses. I’m planning for where I want to be over the next 25 years.
I grew up in Philadelphia. We lived in a row house neighborhood. My father was a barber. My father came from Poland. My mother came from Romania.
Strangely enough, I’m not a car nut. I grew up with public transportation. I really didn’t start driving until I was 20 years old. I met a woman that I eventually married and am still married to for 60 years, who lived in Lebanon, Pa., which was 90 miles away.
My dad said something to me that was important. All we have in this world is our name and nothing else.
I’ll read between 15 and 25 books during the summer. I’m a history nut.
We have 16 different franchises that we represent here in Florida and in Denver.
If you stand still, you move backward. It’s been the history of failed businesses that did not modernize.
I’m a firm believer in the big pie theory and many slices. I think people deserve incentives, and we’re a very incentivized company.
When I purchased the Eagles and went back to Philadelphia, it was like Douglas MacArthur going back to the Philippines. It was that type of a heady thing at the beginning.
It was seven days a week, 24 hours a day and 52 weeks a year. I’m a very competitive person, and if we would lose a game, I didn’t sleep for a week, and if we won a game, I was so keyed up I didn’t sleep for three or four days. I have one principle I’ve lived by all my life and that is, I can’t dwell on yesterday. I can learn from it, but I can’t let it possess me.
I was a Madoff investor. When that day occurred with Madoff, I had great exposure. I didn’t lose any sleep that night. The only thing that violated that principle was being in the sports business. It pained me too much.
I’ve always felt that when citizens keep quiet, they deserve what they get. I made up my mind a long time ago that if I ever had the opportunity and the financial success, I would take principled positions that I felt were important to me.
I’m averse to public financing of for-profit enterprises. My wife and I are in the process of building a contemporary art museum. We’re footing the entire cost. We’re showing these things can be done privately. The needs of public dollars are too great to give it away to people who can basically afford to build their own playpens.
I have a nice collection of important Abraham Lincoln documents. Every book that comes out on Lincoln, I read. Just fascinated by him.
The greatest satisfaction I have is seeing my daughters’ dedication to philanthropy. We just funded a major program at Georgetown University. You go through life and you ask yourself a question, what legacy do you want to leave? Israel and the Jewish community have always been at the top of my priority list.
I keep a photograph of my mom and dad on the counter in my bathroom. So when I shave in the morning I just always see them.
Education is everything.
I exercise every day and try to stay healthy. Try to stay concerned.
We live in a glorious country. It just is, and we’re blessed to be here.
In case you missed it: