While Donald J. Trump is grappling with America, he is leaving his sprawling property empire in the hands of his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, along with longtime staffers.
In his first post-inauguration interview about the operation of the Trump Organization, Eric Trump told me everything is running smoothly.
“We have an amazing team. We have amazing people,” the 33-year-old said during an hour-long discussion in his Trump Tower office on Monday morning.
“We function incredibly well and we know what everybody does. There is no second-guessing who is responsible for what,” he said. “And we act as a family unit and we have incredible loyalty — and everybody works incredibly hard and everybody is incredibly good at what they do.”
Although Eric has certainly learned a vocabulary of superlatives from his father, now POTUS, his easy-going mild manner and quiet strength are reflective of everyone who works for the Trump Organization.
When Eric officially started at the family business about a dozen years ago, the company was primarily focused on residential with the mixed-use Trump Tower and 40 Wall St. its only commercial properties.
At that time, he said, the company owned three golf courses — now it owns 18. There was just one hotel — now there are 14.
Older brother Don Jr., 39, has been with the company since 2001. Don Jr. focuses on the hotels as well as the commercial properties such as their office building at 40 Wall St.
“I built half of them. Don’s built half of them. We run them, we are at them all the time, and the property managers are not only incredible but are extensions of our family,” Eric said.
Most of the senior staff members have been with them for more than a decade. New hotel CEO Eric Danziger is a well-respected executive who had long headed Starwood. “He’s just like us,” Eric said, noting Danziger’s low-key personality.
Properties and projects are now scattered across the globe but, going forward, the focus will be on completing jobs they are legally contracted to finish and expanding throughout the US, including their younger-skewed Scion hotel brand.
“Now, the biggest thing in the world is what he is doing,” said Eric of his father. “And we would never want to do anything to remotely jeopardize that. So, we were the first people to raise our hands and say, you know what, let’s not build anything [else] overseas.”
After the election, the Trumps canceled all pending international deals — roughly 30 by their count — giving up millions of dollars and even billions in potential business deals for what they expect to become the next eight years.
Projects still in progress include one of the tallest residential buildings in the world, in Manila, and a round luxury residential tower on the ocean in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Eric’s fast trip to Uruguay before the inauguration drew barbs from those upset taxpayers footed the bill for the Secret Service. But he can’t just ditch them, and they are now a required part of the Trumps’ lives, just as they have been for every president, first lady and kids.
Eric focuses on the golf courses, the winery, hotels and construction.
“I made the purchases of every single one of those golf courses, and I rebuilt every single one of these properties,” Eric explained. “I know their attics better than anybody, and I know the mechanical systems better than anybody.”
As the inauguration loomed, the company began removing Donald Sr.’s full name and likeness from Web sites and collateral materials. A search shows his likeness appears only on a “founder” tab while the accompanying bio has no mention of him becoming POTUS.