New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
John A. Catsimatidis, Jr.’s office is just a short walk down the hall from his father’s, John Catsimatidis Sr. at Red Apple Group in Manhattan, but already recognized for his various political and philanthropic activities as he focuses on the energy and investment divisions of Red Apple Group’s businesses, John Jr. is clearly his own man. Positive, warm, and articulate, Catsimatidis reflects an upbringing which he has said included love, family, and a strong work ethic.
GN: I always enjoyed interviewing you at the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund Galas throughout the years, beginning when you were around 12. You already had a public persona.
It seemed clear from your praise of your parents’ philanthropic efforts that you intended to follow in their footsteps in their support of the Greek American community.
JC: I have and continue to learn a great deal from my parents. As you mentioned, I started getting involved in their philanthropic efforts at an early age, which has made a profound impact on my life. I am very proud of my Greek heritage and will always stay involved in the community. I love traveling to Greece and visiting my relatives, but I especially love going to my father’s home island Nisyros.
GN: Do you ever think of doing business in Greece, or carrying out any philanthropic works there?
JC: If an opportunity presented itself where I could be sure of a stable regulatory environment I would certainly do business in Greece. On tourism, Greece is one of the most beautiful places on earth and there is no reason it should not be the number one vacation destination in Europe.
GN: Is there a philanthropic area that you have thought of developing, or of adding to your parents’ efforts to date?
JC: In addition to the great work my parents already do, I would like to continue to support our troops, law enforcement, and all of the men and women who dedicate themselves entirely to protecting our families and our freedom. I am fortunate to serve on the Emerging Leaders Council of the Federal Enforcement Homeland Security Foundation, a great organization that helps the families of law enforcement across the country in their time of need.
GN: Recently, you received the Partner in Caring Next Generation Award from The Bridge [a charity involved in bettering the lives of those who have may be compromised], but this was not the first award or recognition you’ve received. What awards or honors stand out for you?
JC: The Bridge is a great organization that helps so many people, and I am thankful they considered me for the award. During my time at New York University I was recognized as one of the ten most influential students and given a President’s Service award for my contribution to the school community. I was President of the NYU College Republicans and successfully helped it grow to become the largest political club on campus, then was elected as Chairman of the New York State College Republicans with the goal of helping university clubs around the state.
Q: Your father was a Mayoral candidate in 2013 and your record with the NYU College Republicans shows that you are drawn to politics, as well.
JC: I have always been interested in politics, starting from an early age, and continue to be. Although I have been approached to run for elected office, I am currently enjoying learning about business and being involved as a citizen.
GN: You received your B.S. in business and finance from New York University Stern School of Business in 2015. Aside from your allegiance to your father’s lifelong business efforts, what drew you to pursue a career in business and not in computer science, which I understand was your original interest?
JC: I was fortunate to start interning at our family business early in High School and really enjoyed working as a team on a project and seeing what we created affect people’s lives in a positive way. It’s not just about the profits, it’s about benefiting all stakeholders-employees, the community, and of course shareholders. One of the things I love about our business is that we provide essentials, gas for your car, heat for your home, food for your fridge, and now we are building apartments and homes.
GN: Your idea of the family business as a gestalt is very interesting. Do you think that envisioning it in this way provides a base from which you can get more ideas?
JC: I found that when you and the people around you are genuinely passionate about a project and care about the problems being solved, you get great results. Also, the unfortunate truth is that there are a lot of people in business who not only must win, but must see the other party lose. One of the greatest lessons I have learned by observing my father is that having all parties win is the surest way to long-term success.
GN: A couple of years ago your father spoke proudly to me about your development of some iPhone apps.
JC: I had a lot of fun developing iPhone apps. They were mostly games and utilities. I took them off the store during college so I could focus on school and working at the business full-time. My fascination with computer science must be genetic! It wasn’t until much later in the development of my abilities that my father told me he had actually programmed some of the computers in his earliest companies, and was actually a very skilled programmer!
GN: Does anything in particular–cultural, emotional, or otherwise–that you experience on your trips to Nisyros affect your life here or what you think of accomplishing when you come home?
JC: The trips remind me of the importance of family and have the lasting effect of bringing the whole family closer together when we are back home.