Miguel, Esmeralda and Samuel Pilgram.
Grand opening of New York Subs and Wings.
By Charles Moseley
Any successful business person will attest that success in business results when preparedness meets opportunity. Businesses use certain barometers to determine whether or not their business is heading in the right direction. In today’s uncertain economy, small businesses face a never ending battle to stay afloat, let alone flourish.
With those thoughts in mind, the Westside Gazette news-paper reached out to business owner Miguel Pilgram, the man behind The Pilgram Group, to learn more about one man’s journey into the business world. In turn, he consented to an interview. Pilgram readily shared some insight into the path he’d traveled to ultimately become successful in a highly competitive real estate business arena.
Westside Gazette (WG): What were your formative years like growing up from a family perspective and al-so educationally?
Miguel Pilgram (MP): I was raised in a Navy family, father, sister, brother and I all did stints in the USN or are currently enlisted. My Dad was the very hardworking bread-winner; he always had two or three types of income. My mom was a strict academic and believed strongly in faith and education. They divorced when I was nine but my father was always in my life and available to me and my siblings.
WG: Would you care to add in more detail about yourself regarding family, professional endeavors, and things you enjoy doing aside from running a business?
MP: I am single with two children, Maya and Wesley, 15 and 20 respectively. Wesley has chosen the Navy as a career path. After leaving the Navy, I attended Tennessee State University, pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering but left school to work in the cruise industry where I worked my way up to second in Command of Norwegian Cruise Lines Global Security and Compliance. I was there until we started the Pilgram Group in 2010 by purchasing our first properties at bottom of the real estate bubble. which has led us to a sizeable portfolio for such a small family owned entity. My hobbies include a high level of physical and mental fitness and preparedness. Boot Camp beach training, boxing, real estate – specifically making acquisitions operable and profitable; mentoring veterans and youth; Boys and Girls Clubs of America, rebuilding together Broward County, to name a few. My role model are my parents, Matthew Lewis (Retired Navy Seal) and God.
WG: Who would you say has been the greatest influence in your life?
MP: The greatest influence on my life would be my parents and my faith.
WG: What path has life taken you professionally?
MP: I went from a military environment to the global cruise industry then into real estate which encompasses what is now Pilgram Group, a family owned investment entity. The experiences have led me to run the family business according to strict guidelines from both financial and business perspectives. That global experience made me very appreciative of a variety of cultures and beliefs as well as giving me a global advantage in the direction of growing this business.
WG: What has been the most challenging aspect of your professional career?
MP: Understanding that drive and ambition are qualities we all have but to unlock these traits, will require a different motivation specific to each person.
WG: What do you consider your proudest moment so far professionally?
MP: Wow, proudest? I would say starting the Pilgram Group and continuing to see its growth makes me proud.
WG: How did you come to relocate to South Florida from Memphis, Tenn.?
MP: Previously, I served as head of Fleet Security program for Norwegian Cruise Lines globally and was appointed to a corporate management position in Miami in 2007. That appointment led to the move to South Florida. My career knowledge and opportunities multi-plied exponentially upon my moving here, specifically from a professional and personal aspect
WG: Reflecting back on your life, what have been your cornerstones to success?
MP: Simple, believe in something greater than you. Believe in you. If you don’t go after what you want you’ll never get it. Closed mouths don’t get fed. Train your body and mind. And finally, never forget no matter how tough the circumstances you can make it happen, today.
WG: What advice can you share on starting your own business?
MP: If money is the motivation it won’t last. If there is passion, then work towards an educated financial strategy to get it started and sustained. Working with family is powerful if they are an asset to your business. Have an exit strategy. Most importantly, never forget – pay success forward.
WG: As you continue your career are there some goals or future projects on the horizon?
MP: We’re very excited about a joint venture with Mercede Realty, in developing an old boat warehouse acquisition into a multi-use property at 100 S.W. Sixth St. in Fort Lauderdale next to Publix. The new-building will feature retail/office space and residential lofts as well as our second location for New York Subs & Wings. The development will be the first of its kind in that area and will further illustrate to the community the passion, quality, detail and commitment the Pilgram Group has become known for.