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Ron Coury, author of Tenacity: A Vegas Businessman Survives Brooklyn, the Marines, Corruption and Cancer to Achieve the American Dream

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Gary Pinkerton interviews Ron Coury, Marine veteran, casino dealer, realtor, business owner, and author of Tenacity: A Vegas Businessman Survives Brooklyn, the Marines, Corruption, and Cancer to Achieve the American Dream. This interesting discussion starts with ethics and how to deal with corruption and difficulty in life and business. Ron ties his business acumen to things he learned during basic training. He gives ideas on how to create a culture and grow business without having to be physically present.

Announcer 0:04
Welcome to the heroic investing show. As first responders we risk our lives every day our financial security is under attack.

Gary Pinkerton 0:13
Our pensions are in a state of emergency. A single on duty incident can alter or erase our earning potential instantly and forever. We are the heroes of society. We are self reliant and we need to take care of our own financial future. The heroic investing show is our toolkit of business and investing tactics on our mission to financial freedom. Welcome to the heroic investing show. My name is Gary Pinkerton and I co host this show with Jason Hartman. This is Episode 194. My guest for today is Ron Cory. Ron was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and arrived in Las Vegas in 1973 following two years of service in the US, marine As you know, heroic investing is about helping individuals find ways to not only invest, but also, after having some passive income coming in from their investments enable them to turn and do what they are uniquely gifted at, meaning start businesses and all other kinds of entrepreneurship. I definitely love real estate, but actually, I love them all. And I love people who are out there just finding a need in the world and solving it. And people who do that typically have lots of little businesses that they have ran or experimented with or gone into throughout their lives. Well check this out. Ron has been a casino dealer, and a realtor, as well as a partner in restaurants and gaming bars. Major graphics and glass companies has several automobile dealerships throughout the western United States. In all of his free time. He wrote an amazing book called tenacity and tenacity chronicles the evolution of entrepreneurship that Ron went through in all of his his adventures while living there in Las Vegas. Ron is an absolute gem. You’re gonna love this episode. Here we go. Well, rogue investors. Thanks so much for returning for yet another episode. We’ve got a great one for you here today. Marine Ron Cory. Ron hails from Las Vegas, Nevada. He’s got a couple decades a little more than that in Las Vegas, a very successful businessman there, and has a great new book out. Ron, thank you so much for joining us.

Ron Coury 2:27
Well, thank you, Gary, for having me on your show today.

Gary Pinkerton 2:30
Absolutely. So, as we talked a little bit about pre show, you know, what the listeners are interested in is, you know, sometimes real estates but also how to become successful running their own business and how to make that transition from active duty or, you know, serving full time as a police officer and EMT firefighter member of the military into running their own show. So would you please kind of give us a your background and how you ended running some successful businesses and then eventually writing a book.

Ron Coury 3:03
The book is entitled tenacity. And I think every one of my fellow military personnel would agree that the United States military is not only the finest in the world, but has followed by an edict that failure is not an option. And I think that followed me from leaving Brooklyn, New York and listing in the Marine Corps. When I was done with my active duty service, I relocated to Las Vegas, which was a very small town in 1973. And offered a great deal of opportunity with a small town of 100,000 residents, where there were a lot of opportunities available to someone that was willing to take a risk and go into business for themselves. If they thought they could find the niche and do something they could do better than others were doing or do something in a small town that hadn’t been done before. So, in getting out of the Marine Corps, I came to Las Vegas and started my career as a dealer at the Tropicana hotel. And the book goes into much detail about growing up in New York, enlisting into service and how that came about why I selected the Marines. And what I did in arriving in Vegas, starting my life out as a dealer, or wanting to go into business for myself, which occurred, partly becoming a realtor, and availing myself of the extra income, to go into business one day, and how the first business came about, which was a local neighborhood tavern. And ultimately, over 45 years in Vegas, I parlayed that one Tavern deal into a total of 20 different businesses. I interact quite a bit with first responders because I’m proud to serve now in my fifth year With the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation, and also sponsor a $50,000 scholarship each year for the children of Metro Police. Wow, that’s quite a history. Congratulations. You mentioned 20 businesses, a lot of those are restaurants Is that true? My business partner that I have from serving in the Marines with him, he moved to Vegas with me. And he and I parlayed that first Tavern into four taverns, but the other businesses were unrelated to taverns. We start a limousine company together, a graphics company that grew from four people to 120 employees, a wholesale mirror and Glass Company and a variety of other things. And then with another friend, in 2010, I got into the car dealership business and we parlayed one Hyundai dealership into a total of seven dealerships in Nevada in Calgary. For you, before 2015 when I sold everything, and sat down to write a book, and tell the story of not only going into business out of the military, but some of the hurdles I encountered by daring to select a new venture in an outlying jurisdiction to Las Vegas, where a corrupt city councilman, and a corrupt small town Police Department actually framed me to do away with me as a competitor in private enterprise against him. Wow. Yeah. Can you keep going there? Well, I don’t want to be a spoiler, but they actually set me up with five felony charges and felt like they would be rid of me as a civil litigant when all I was going for was a casino use permit in a properly zoned piece of property that I had purchased. And I had to engage a private investigator with what I I think your listeners will find to be a very interesting story about an undercover operation, which resulted in clearing my name. But your first responders will get a real kick out of the payback we delivered to this corrupt city councilman. Nice throughout the book tenacity.

Gary Pinkerton 7:21
Awesome. Okay, perfect. So you made a comment at the very beginning, which I think was a gold nugget that I want to go back and highlight a comment that you landed in the early 70s. In a city that was open to welcoming individuals who would be able to solve a problem that exists there. Can you say that again,

Ron Coury 7:39
I turned myself in a book as an observational entrepreneur, or a niche Finder. And when you’re in a small town, there are opportunities that present themselves other than a large city, where pretty much everything has been done. So one might be able to do it better and compete at a higher level and be successful. But when you’re in a small town, you could actually come up with things that haven’t occurred there yet. And if you’re willing to swing the bat, that’s the only way you’re ever going to hit the ball and take a shot and create something. And if you operate it successfully overcome the obstacles that befall you, then great successes in your future.

Gary Pinkerton 8:23
A lot of the businesses that you mentioned I wouldn’t call innovative, right. I mean, they were just things that didn’t exist in this town, the small town that you were living in, right like mirin Glass Company, right?

Ron Coury 8:33
Well, yeah, the innovation came in. Let’s talk about the graphics company. When interactive gaming was created in the 1980s, the traditional slot machine where you pull a handle and you hope to line up sevens change dramatically. Look at a casino floor today, where with video poker, and various other gaming devices, people are engaging and interactive gaming. With the advent of that new type of machine, instead of pretty much the main slot machine manufacturer for decades was Valley manufacturing. When sigh red left, Bally’s opened igt. With video poker dozens and dozens of worldwide gaming manufacturers came into being and it created a niche for an independent screen printing company that would print the glass fronts of these new machines. So while printing slot glass wasn’t an innovation, realizing that there was a niche for an independent screen printing company that would protect the confidentiality of the new machine designs from manufacturer to manufacturer was a niche that Dan Hughes and I found, got an SBA loan in 1984 and open suburban graphics with a $100,000 SBA loan and for people which we grew to 120 people And nearly $15 million in worldwide sales.

Gary Pinkerton 10:04
Wow. So tenacity certainly was a huge aspect of that. Also, as you said, being someone who observed a need and a change in the demographics of the industry that you were looking at what else was there

Ron Coury 10:19
in the 1980s, the limousine service in Las Vegas, I found to be somewhat depressing. You know, there was a time older listeners will remember, when if you had a few drinks and a police car pulled you over, they would call you a cab and take your keys, and you’d go to the police station next day and pick up your car keys. Well, with the enforcement of drinking and driving in the 1980s becoming more strict, it became necessary and prudent, especially if you had any assets at risk to hire a car and a driver if you were going to drink and it was also the right thing to do socially. Well, I found that when I travel on business to LA New York and Chicago, the level of service from limousine companies was far better than what existed in Las Vegas, which I felt were no more than glorified taxis. So I decided to open a stretch limousine company, tuxedoed chauffeurs, fully stocked bars and run a service head and shoulders above what previously existed. That was yet another new niche that Dan and I thought we could fill. What we encountered was a transportation industry and a regulatory environment with the state agency that licensed limo companies that had an issued a new license in decades. We were told you’ll never get a license. Well, that’s just the kind of challenge I’m looking for. So we went ahead with an application. And through some creative measures that the book describes, we overcame the death threats I received by phone, the vandalism that occurred to one of my cars And actually prevail. And often presidential limousine service to rave reviews, operated successfully for four years before selling it, and then flip that money into a piece of land where we developed another neighborhood casino.

Gary Pinkerton 12:17
Very cool. And just simply because you were you were observing what was in a city that you were traveling to that didn’t exist where you would live back home. There’s so many good nuggets here. So I’m not sure where to go at the moment. What is perhaps as you reflect back on it, the one thing that goes beyond tenacity and observation, and how about the way in which you had a company with culture that was able to go from two or three people to 120 some and have large revenues. When you think about the graphic company, what was there about your culture that was most important?

Ron Coury 12:49
There was a refusal to fail. You know, anybody who takes a shot and goes into business, they’re going to encounter some obstacles, they will be unforeseen obstacles and You need not fear that you cannot overcome it. you adapt and improvise, we try to make good choices. A term of art that I’ve repeated to my children is that there’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. And when you develop a reputation in the city you’re conducting business in for being an honest businessman, a true and loyal friend, then you will find that not only do deals come your way, but when you encounter obstacles and you reach out to whatever circle of influence you have with friends, and discuss a problem you’re encountering, you’ll get good ideas from people that are that are smart and loyal to you. You’ll make good decisions. And you’ll find a way to overcome those obstacles and just not let a problem defeat you. You have to be prepared to persevere, be diligent, and in so many more cases than not You will have a good outcome, especially if you served in the military. And you’ve gained a level of discipline and stick to itiveness that the military instills in their people.

Gary Pinkerton 14:12
Ron, you’re a very driven individual, clearly, I mean, I think everyone can feel that on that. who’s listening? What is your why, and why do you do this? Why have you done it for decades and succeeded in businesses and start new ones?

Ron Coury 14:24
In my case, I was a casino dealer, and a bit of personal history. My dad lost three brothers and one sister to cancer. My dad had defeated colon cancer. And I felt that cancer would find me not a question of if but when. And as I was dealing got married in 1975. In 1978, we had our first child, and I started to realize that if I was going to get severely ill and possibly be sick for a number of months, what would I do to pay the bills? And support my family if I couldn’t go to work every day? And the answer was to go into business for myself, build it up to a level that it could support me whether I went in every day or not. And that motivated me to find a business. I didn’t know at the time, that I would be one who wouldn’t just be happy with one successful business, I would be constantly looking for more challenges. And it really wasn’t a desire to increase my balance sheet. I don’t think that was ever a factor. I just loved the idea of creating something from nothing, making it successful, and getting on to the next new challenge. But lo and behold, with some great luck and vision, I actually did find myself in 2005, developing esophageal cancer, something which has an 8% survival rate in this country and while staying in good shape. Ever since staying out of the Marine Corps getting out of the Marine Corps, it enabled me to overcome 11 hours of surgery and the one year recovery period that was necessary. I’m now 13 years cancer free, but only with having a great business partner, and someone who would carry the ball in my absence, having successful businesses was able to be sick for a long period of time and have an income stream that enabled me to not have to lose everything due to a severe illness. That was the driving factor, quite honestly.

Gary Pinkerton 16:37
Nice. You have children, grandchildren, I know you have children, but

Ron Coury 16:40
yes, I have three children and five grandsons. That’s awesome.

Gary Pinkerton 16:45
All grandsons. All right. So you were in the in the Marine Corps in the late 60s early 70s. Is that is that accurate?

Ron Coury 16:52
I enlisted in 1971 by Sir from 72 to 74. Luckily, while then use an IRA In boot camp, we were destined for Vietnam as every buddy in the military war. Right before we graduated boot camp, President Nixon announced de escalation. That meant no one else would go over there, and so many thousand troops per month would be withdrawn. So we never did have to go to war. We ended up being stationed in Barstow, California, which was a two and a half hour drive from Las Vegas. And that’s what brought us to Vegas. When we completed our active duty,

Gary Pinkerton 17:32
understood, Ron there’s many good lessons about it. Well, tenacity from the book and certainly going to go read that it’s it’s on my list at the moment and I’m sure it is on on that of the listeners, but tenacity through both a lot of resistance locally, a lot of entrenched corruption, and health challenges, right. Where does life take you from this point forward?

Ron Coury 17:51
Well, I’ve sold the seven car dealerships and the Ford taverns in 2015 at the age of 60. Three I thought well it’s time to retire and just do something I really enjoyed, which was playing poker, Texas Hold’em poker. Well, when I was able to play poker every day, I found that that was not as challenging as I needed. So I ended up getting on the board of the police department Foundation, among the board of a large local Furniture Company, Walker furniture. I’m in a new business with an early education learning tool called square panda. One of my fellow board members and investors is tennis champion Andre Agassi. And I’m staying as busy as I want to be with these new projects. And of course, three years writing the book, getting it published, and now spending this year marketing the book to get the word out across the country. That’s what my future holds is getting square panda launched in China and India. We’re already available in the United States and making that a success.

Gary Pinkerton 18:58
All right. What is your goal with the number of books to sell. And what do you hope is the result of having the three years labor of writing it?

Ron Coury 19:06
My goal was to tell a story that my kids could appreciate what I went through, hopefully motivate them to do great things in their lives. And it wasn’t really a financial project, although I cannot it’s not in my nature to go into something and not try to make it profitable. So well. I’m told a book is a success if it sells 10,000 copies, I’m hoping to sell 50,000 and I was very lucky that I was able to hire Hollywood actor Michael Madsen, from Reservoir Dogs and Donnie Brasco fame to be the voice of tenacity on my audio book, which is available on Amazon along with paperback hardcover and Kindle and your listeners can find tenacity, either on Amazon or through my website. Rob Cory author.com that spelled co you try and listen to Michael Madsen if they prefer audiobooks, and get a full story of all the things I very vaguely described during this interview.

Gary Pinkerton 20:16
That’s amazing. So that’s Ron Cory author.com, right? That’s correct. Yes. Awesome. Ron, thank you so much for joining our audience. That was really really packed with nuggets of a path to success. Thank you so much, sir. And congratulations on an amazing journey so far,

Ron Coury 20:33
truly my pleasure. great meeting you. I wish you and your listeners well as they encounter their own challenges in life.

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