Gino is in business, well connected, established and entrenched in his local ethnic community. He sits on a number of community boards and is able to influence local Government policy making because of this.
Gino was the first of the new Australian generation. His parents were hard working farmers suffering from the worst post-World War drought in Europe. Like many Mediterranean migrants responding to the call of the Australian Government, Gino’s parents picked up and migrated to Australia in the late 1950’s.
Maintaining the same work-hard attitude, Gino’s parents had built some wealth, owning their home, a small supermarket business and eventually the supermarket building itself. Gino’s education was paid for and he became the first of his family to be educated, finishing high school and then university.
Gino took over the operations of the supermarket when his father passed away. Soon too Gino married his partner, Lynne and had a family of his own. It wasn’t long before Gino invested his family wealth into small property developments.
All was going well until the day Lynne’s credit card was declined. Lynne contacted the bank and to her astonishment there was no money left in the joint account and the redraw facility was “fully exhausted”. Lynne was irritated by the bank exclaiming “I don’t believe this; I will have Gino call you so you can explain all this to him”. “Gino is fully aware of the situation Lynne, there will be no surprises” was the response, “but please do ask him to call.”
When Lynne confronted Gino, he finally admitted, “yes Lynne we have some financial issues, but the bank is being a little dramatic”.
Sitting in my office listening to Gino and his business challenges. Gino was concerned about the bank. “The bank is on my back. They can see my sales dropping and my mortgage climbing and they want to know what I am going to do about it, particularly keeping up with the interest payments.”
Gino had more. “It’s not that easy; you know how it is coming from an ethnic family. I gambled the family money on property developments. The developments went okay, I lost some money on one, but it wasn’t too bad. I don’t know how mum will react if she finds out; and how the local community will gossip. My God, I don’t want to think about that; my mother will have a heart attack dealing with all that. God, imagine having to sell the house”.
Gino wasn’t worried about the money; he’s worried about how he will be perceived by his family, his mother and the local community.
“Since the bank contacted Lynne, a year ago she has been actively involved in the business decisions.” Good news I thought, now Gino is not alone. “So, what’s the latest?”
“Well we are done, no money left”, says Lynne. “Can’t catch up. Now it’s the tax office.”
“I think it’s time isn’t it?” I said.
“Yes, there’s a few things we need to tidy off first”, says Gino. “Thank you. Finally.”, says Lynne. I sense a little tension between the two of them.
Gino explained that they have sold the family home, paid out the bank and are now renting in the same area. “I’ve also sold the Mercedes and bought an old used AMG. I can’t believe how cheap the used AMGs are, crazy, crazy, crazy. I should have bought an old car from the start!”
Lynne is quiet. I ask how she feels about what’s going on. “It’s been exhausting for me and I couldn’t convince him. Gino is really concerned about how he will be perceived in the community and how this will come back to his mother. So, we have set it up for appearance sake that from the outside nothing has changed. We live in the same suburb and drive the same make of car. Gino has stepped down from all community associations and he is now studying to be a realtor. He works hard, but it has been difficult for me. He should just go and talk to mum. Deal with it and move on.”
“So it’s decided”, I concluded “let me get on with it then. I don’t want to play down your financial situation, but I see a lot of businesses in financial trouble. The money side, well that’s the easy piece. You go and do the real work, deal with your family”.
Two months have passed, and I met with Lynne and Gino again. “I’ve dealt with the bank and the tax office and other creditors, so that’s done, a work in progress, but done, you?”
“You were right. Dealing with mum, was hard, but she put it in perspective for me. Hard is leaving your family behind. Hard is going to a new country. Hard is not understanding or speaking the language. And hard is starting again with nothing. I really had nothing to stress about. No telephone calls from the bank or anyone else for that matter, that’s your problem sorry Eddie, not working 24/7, being able to stay at home at Christmas and not worry about business for once has been good.”
“I’m getting that many calls now from the local ethnic community since my mother has told everyone she meets I’m studying to be a realtor. Crazy”. “Yes”, says Lynne, “she so proud. Gino walks around in a suit, talks to all the big property owners.”
In his first year as a realtor Gino earnt just over $200,000 in commissions.
Thanks to mum and the ethnic community.
He still drives an old AMG.
These are true stories. Names have been changed for privacy reasons.