Jeff Katofsky is a husband of thirty years, father of two boys, and a trial lawyer with substantial civil litigation experience (over 150 trials) in real estate, business, construction, injury, corporate, finance, insurance, property and casualty, and intellectual property. Jeff is a graduate of UCLA and the Boalt Hall School of Law (UC Berkeley). As an entrepreneur and a hands-on operator, Jeff owns a professional baseball team (Orem Owlz), multiple hotels, and businesses in retail, entertainment, real estate, food, and hospitality. As a developer, Jeff has been the primary construction supervisor, designer, and entitlement processor for close to 100 projects. Jeff manages the finances of the projects and handles the acquisition, construction, and underwriting.
How do you define success?
Healthy, happy, family. Well-educated, loving, respectful children. Good friends. Money and things are secondary, and just a bonus (although it does pay for the education of the kids).
What is the key to success?
Hard work, dedication, earned loyalty from those who you work with, reputation (which is also earned), focus, as well as setting and reaching a series of reasonable goals.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
It’s okay to fail, if you learn from it. Don’t repeat it, and then modify your behavior for the next time.
What are some quotes that you live by?
My quotes almost always come from movies, not books. You will hear a quote from at least one of the following, daily, out of my mouth – My Cousin Vinny, The Princess Bride, Bull Durham, A Few Good Men, my son Jake’s first movie 108 Stitches, or anything Yogi Berra ever said.
What are some of your favorite books?
I read a lot of spy fiction, political, and action books, like Clancy, Lee Child, Baladacci, Koontz, and Cussler. It does help reduce the stress of reality.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
I had a whole lot of them in the crash of 2008-2009. Arguably, I am a professional “borrower.” Every new deal we do relies on good banking relationships until long-term stabilization. When the banks began to fail, they turned to squeezing their good, current borrowers to repatriate cash (they could not collect against defaulted loans) and they began to come up with ways, through declaring non-monetary defaults on their performing loans, to try to force payoffs. Of course, no banks were loaning money to help those take outs, leaving me with a huge cash crunch. It almost put me under.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Providing for my family.
How did you come across the opportunity to purchase the Orem Owlz?
In 2004, my father was in Las Vegas at a real estate convention and met the former owners of the ball club, who were pitching him on a restaurant deal. During that meeting, they mentioned they owned a baseball team in Provo, Utah, and that they needed to sell for financial reasons. My dad said he had a buyer, called me and said, “What’s the one thing you always wanted but did not think you could afford to buy?” I said, “A baseball team.” He said, “Say hello,” and handed the phone across the table to the seller.
What is your vision for the future of the franchise?
I want to combine the Owlz with a youth complex so that children who play baseball can have the experience of interfacing with professional players and learn from them, as well as experience playing on a professional field. I have been working on this for years and am close…stay tuned.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Set a goal and don’t forget to reach and dream. Work hard, real hard, to get there. Hard work never killed anyone. Sleep is overrated. But, remember, most importantly, family is still first. Once you understand the balance between work and family, and focus on your dream and goals, go get it!
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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