Home, Life, Chicago : Interview with Bill Rancic

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Catching Up With Bill Rancic

For those of you that I know who have often wondered, how the heck I ever got on the Giulianna and Bill show not once but twice and for the rest who?ve wondered ?who the hell is the plumbing expert? here is the explanation and a pretty in depth interview with my long time friend Bill Rancic.

Bill and I met in 1986 while scooping ice cream at the legendary south suburban ice cream parlor ?The Plush Horse? So suffice to say we?ve known each other for a while. Over the last 5 years or so we?ve worked together on a few of his projects, most of which you?ve probably seen if you?ve kept up with the show. I?ve always wanted to sit down and talk to Bill about his life, his drive, early business ventures, The Apprentice and his continued fascination with real estate and love of all things plumbing. I say plumbing because Bill has a real solid eye for kitchen and bath design, as you will see in the pictures below. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.

Bill: Yes, we definitely did and it was me and a guy you know Jerry Agema. You two went to Jr. High together.

His parents owned a condo in New Buffalo Michigan. We saw all of these boats coming in and decided to work for ourselves and started a boat washing business. We did it for 2 or 3 summers and it was there that we both met super successful business owners and it changed our perspective, they worked hard but they weren?t magical by any means. I took the ?Why not me?? approach. BTW I don?t remember if we incorporated or not it was 25 years ago. Wink

Sean: Did washing all of those boats turn you off to actually owning one? I don?t remember you having one.

Bill: Actually my dad did have a boat and I owned it for a few years but sold it because I didn?t and still don?t have time to use the darned things. I?d love to have one again. I?d love for the Duke to be able to enjoy the water.

Sean: So take me through your college years, you graduated from Loyola correct? When did you start ?Cigar of the Month?? What prompted you to get into the cigar business and why did you get out? The boutique cigar business is booming right now. Do you still enjoy a cigar from time to time?

Bill: Believe it or not I graduated from Loyola with a Criminology, so it wasn?t a degree I could do much with if I didn?t get a post graduate degree. So I took a job with a company and while I was there I got a sense of the culture and lack thereof. There was no loyalty at all and I realized I wanted no part of it.

Outdated? I think not

I got together with a buddy of mine and we sat in together in his apartment and started looking at businesses we could start. We did something a little different in deciding what business to go into. We reverse engineered businesses that looked promising to us. Instead of talking ourselves into business, which is what most people do, we talked ourselves out of business. Cigar of the Month club was born in 1994. We sold the company in 2001, yes I still enjoy a cigar from time to time

Before I knew it I was filming ?The Apprentice? with Donald Trump in NYC

Bill: My friend Stewart sort of took me under his wing and taught me what he knew about loans, banks and real estate. He convinced me to buy a 4 flat, rehab it and sell it. The hobby grew from there. Notice I said hobby. I feel like I?ve been successful at it because it?s been a hobby. I never had to do it so I?ve been able to be very patient with the properties to find the right ones.

Sean: When did you know you wanted to parley your personality and business savvy into TV? Take me down memory lane.

Bill: Never really, a friend I went to college with had a mom who was a talent agent for kids. She called me up one day and said ?my mom told me there is a reality show looking for young entrepreneurs filming in New York. I already made the appointment for you, you have a call with the producers tomorrow?.

Sean: I remember vividly the show segment where you planned the golf outing (In fact it?s where I thought you won the show) and you were overcoming obstacles left and right and I almost noticed a bit of south side tenacity or street smarts that the other contestants just didn?t have. Do you credit where you were brought up and obviously your parents with those problem-solving skills? Again you were up against some really smart people but there was just something missing from their education and it seemed like life to me.

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