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I Am American Business

Gavin Maloof

Producer Notes

The day before our shoot at the Palms Casino, we had lunch at one of their restaurants. I mentioned to the hostess that we'd be shooting Gavin Maloof the next day. "Gavin? He's in here all the time", she said. The next day I was at another Palms restaurant ordering lunch for our crew and mentioned Gavin again.” Gavin’s here now," the waiter said, "Do you want to meet him?" I said no, I didn't want to intrude, and I'd wait until our interview time. "Just a sec" the waiter said and took off. A moment later he returned, "Gavin says come on back". How many casinos have a co-owner on a first name basis with the staff, hanging out in the casino restaurants, accessible to everyone, and happy to meet you any time? Somehow in their upbringing, along with a fierce business instinct, the Maloof brothers acquired a gentle way with people. All the Vegas casinos have the same dizzy gambling energy, and you'll still probably lose some cold cash if you gamble, but the Palms has a warm way of making you feel a little more at home, whatever your luck may be.

Video Interview

The "I Am" Q&A

What car do you drive?
A Lamborghini.

What’s your favorite place to go?
The Palms.

What Web site do you like to visit?
MySpace.

What was your worst moment in business?
Worst moment in business was selling the Rockets.

And your favorite drink?
Coors Light.

What’s your favorite food?
Chicken.

What is your idea of fun?
Going to dinner and playing blackjack or dice.

And at work?
Just work every day. I love to work every day.

What movie star do you like?
Mark Wahlberg.

Who is a business hero of yours?
My father.

What personal qualities do you admire in business?
Integrity.

And in life?
Integrity.

Are you doing anything green, anything for the environment?
We always give back to the community, in one form or another.

What was your greatest moment in business?
Buying the Sacramento Kings.

And in life?
My three nephews.

What is your dream?
To own a team in every sport.

Do you have a motto?
The customer is always right.

What is your present state of mind?
Positive.

Transcript

CNBC:
Were you always known as the Maloof Brothers?

GAVIN MALOOF:
No, it was later.

CNBC:
How did that happen?

GAVIN MALOOF:
It was when Joe and I took over the team. And usually when you have a team, there is one person at the helm. And Joe and I both are coowners. We see Joe Maloof, Gavin Maloof. And a lot of times, they couldn’t tell us apart, so they just call us “the Maloof Brothers.”

CNBC:
How did it expand to George?

GAVIN MALOOF:
George got more publicity for the Palms. They really couldn’t tell us apart. They would call me Philip, and then Joe, Gavin. They all got us mixed up.

CNBC:
Do all of you have the same approach to business?

GAVIN MALOOF:
Our approach to business is the same, naturally. We cater to the customer. And we take care of our employees.

CNBC:
And that’s the same across all of the Maloof businesses?

GAVIN MALOOF:
Right. Absolutely.

CNBC:
Where did your business approach come from?

GAVIN MALOOF:
That came from my parents. We have always been brought up with that same philosophy. “When the customer is right, he is right. And when he is wrong, he is still right.”

CNBC:
Can you tell me about your dad?

GAVIN MALOOF:
My father was a great person. He raised five kids and ran a business. He was very successful because he treated everybody like they were somebody. He was successful because there was never a time where he didn’t cater to the customer or he didn’t care for the public. And his employees loved him as well. So he really had a concern for other people.

CNBC:
Is it true that your father liked to do things himself?

GAVIN MALOOF:
Yes, he was handson. When he was young growing up, they had a distributorship in Las Vegas, New Mexico, a small town north of Albuquerque. They were so successful that the Coors Family decided to give my father and my grandfather the entire state of New Mexico for the Coors distributor right.

CNBC:
What were your dad’s business values?

GAVIN MALOOF:
My father’s business values were, again, very simple. Be honest. Do what you say you are going to do. Integrity. Loyalty. Respect others. Respect your elders - when we were growing up. And you’ll be successful. People will want to do business with you. That’s why we have had so many opportunities and have done so well, because people want to do business with us. They know that we can be trusted, and they are going to get an honest shake.

CNBC:
Do they all like to do business with you because you have a good time too?

GAVIN MALOOF:
I think maybe they enjoy being around us, yes. We are people persons. We like to say, “The way you kill a Maloof is put us on a deserted island.” We love people, we love being around others.

CNBC:
Can you tell the story about how you should never point someone in a direction, but you should take them there?

GAVIN MALOOF:
When we first purchased the Sacramento Kings, I asked a security guard where the exit was. And this is right when we took over. He says, “Well, you have to go down the hall, and go around the corner. It should be on the left side, after you go through the hallway.” Most arenas are round, so you are going to get lost. I went to the security guard and I said, “Hey listen, you gotta take us physically and show us how to get out of here. We were going around in a circle for 20 minutes.” And so we always say that’s an added touch that we give is take someone to where you want them to go, don’t just tell them.

CNBC:
What were some things your father said to you?

GAVIN MALOOF:
My Dad always told us, especially when it comes to family, to stick together. A lot of families can’t work together. Or they can work together, but they are not friends. Or they are friends, but they can’t work. So, my father always told us “You are only as strong as you are together. And the minute that you become apart, you won’t have a business.” We have taken that philosophy to this day. And there has never been any jealousy amongst the five of us. My parents always treated us equally when we were growing up.

CNBC:
What about the decision making process?

GAVIN MALOOF:
With the decision making process, we always do things unanimously. The major decisions, whether to buy a company, whether to buy a hotel, or whether to buy a sports team. It’s a unanimous decision. If it’s not unanimous, then we don’t do it.

CNBC:
How do you handle disagreements?

GAVIN MALOOF:
Amongst our family, we have differences and we argue every now and then. But at the end of the day, it’s “us against the world.” We work together. And we are moving forward. And we have a lot of work to do. We have to compete against other casinos. We have to compete against other teams. We have to compete against other distributorships. We have a lot of work to do. But we are together, no question about it.

CNBC:
Can you list all of the Maloof properties?

GAVIN MALOOF:
Our companies include the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, the Sacramento Kings, the beer distributorship in New Mexico – Miller and Coors. In fact, every beer except Budweiser for the whole state of New Mexico. And we are a large shareholder in a banking company and an entertainment division.

CNBC:
Who is in charge of what property?

GAVIN MALOOF:
Philip runs our entertainment division. We have a music label called Maloof Music. And Maloof Productions which handles our movie companies and our TV productions. George runs the Palms Hotel, and Joe and I run the Kings and our Coors distributorship.

CNBC:
What has been the most fun?

GAVIN MALOOF:
I would like to say the Kings are the most fun. But every business that we are in is a lot of fun. Even the casino business is exciting. Every day is different. It’s fun at the Palms because we have so many celebrities that come in. Every day is someone that comes in here. And in fact, anybody who is anybody that’s been in America has been here at the Palms.

CNBC:
Was doing something that you enjoy part of the family ethic?

GAVIN MALOOF:
I don’t know if it necessarily came from my family. I have always wanted to own a team. My lifelong ambition was to own a team. And George went to hotel school. He always wanted to be part of a casino. And my Dad really liked both. In fact, if my father was around, we probably would have been in the casino business probably a little earlier. At one time he looked at buying me Aladdin. He was fascinated by that.

CNBC:
Your father passed away before you bought the Fiesta?

GAVIN MALOOF:
My father passed away in 1980 before we bought the Fiesta. I think he would have loved to have been in Las Vegas. And if he came back today, he wouldn’t believe what was going on here.

CNBC:
What happened to the businesses when you father passed away?

GAVIN MALOOF:
We were sure we could handle it. We could handle the business. But it was a difficult time. We had people suing us. They thought that we couldn’t handle it. There was never a doubt in our minds that we couldn’t handle it. And we knew we could handle it, because we grew up in the business. In the beer business, at a young age, 10 years old, in the warehouse, loading trucks, sweeping the warehouses. So we knew the business from the ground up. We just didn’t know the top of the business, but we knew the bottom. And that’s what really prepared us after my father passed away.

CNBC:
Do you feel that the Maloof Family is an American success story?

GAVIN MALOOF:
Absolutely. We’re American and my Grandparents were Lebanese immigrants that migrated to the United States, but we’re an American family. This is the American story. Not rags to riches, but wealth here to up here.

CNBC:
Do you think your family represents the American dream?

GAVIN MALOOF:
Absolutely. This is the land of opportunity and you can do whatever you want to do, as long as you have a passion and a will to succeed. And I think another thing is if you’re willing to take the risks. If you’re willing to take the risks, there’s great rewards on the other side.

CNBC:
Tell us how you feel about the Sacramento Kings as a business and as a passion.

GAVIN MALOOF:
We love the Kings, obviously. We love sports. We love to compete. We love the challenge of winning. Right now, we’re re- rebuilding the team, but we’ve had lot of great success in the past. We were in the playoffs eight straight years. It’ll be challenging the next few years to rebuild it and to bring it back to the championship caliber team we had before.

CNBC:
What is the Maloof Family philosophy for running a sports team?

GAVIN MALOOF:
The Maloof philosophy about managing a sports team is to take care of your fans. Bring your players and your fans closer together. Get the fans emotionally involved in the team and what you’re doing and you’ll have success.