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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
John Knowles | author
Nov 01, 2017
Filed under Featured
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Hospitality lights Long Island

Rob Salvatico, a Legatus member in the Long Island Chapter and 45-yearold corporate president, is not the kind of person who thinks things just happen, or that one can stand still waiting for them to happen. Rob is the kind of leader who is hungry for the ball and wants to get into the arena.

“I firmly believe that God has a plan for each of us,” Salvatico says. “As I look back on my life and career so far, a few themes emerge: I want to do good for my family, my business and all the people we employ and serve, and I want to constantly be giving back to the less fortunate.”

From Italian Catholic immigrants

Rob’s perspective has its roots before he was even born, in the remarkable story of his father Albert Salvatico, son of Italian immigrants and native of the Bronx. Catholic institutions, especially Catholic education, were resources the Salvaticos could always count on as they pursued the American dream. Albert recalls that Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx instilled him with the “respect and manners, along with the morals, ethics and confidence” to lead an aspirational life.

Albert rose rapidly through the ranks of leading insurance firms – first as a top executive in established companies, and then founding his own firm, fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming an independent entrepreneur. In 2000, Albert and his brother, Lou, joined with Rob in a completely new venture: developing and managing hotel properties on Long Island. The adventure that awaited them has been remarkable, to say the least.

“By God’s grace, our new family company enjoyed immediate success,” Rob recalls. “We were surprised. We are humble people and when the risks we took and the hard work we put in paid off quickly we felt so blessed. It enriched our family in so many ways and brought us together.”

Faith and family footing

Rob grew up in the Village of New Hyde Park just east of Queens. From the beginning, faith and family were at the center of everything for Rob.

“I’ll never be able to thank my family enough for the foundation they gave me,” Rob says. “From the very beginning, I knew unconditional and limitless love. Our Catholic faith was the foundation for everything. My parents and other relatives embrace all Catholic teachings fully, but more importantly, they live it each day!”

Rob followed his father’s example in realizing the value of Catholic education. He graduated from the acclaimed Chaminade High School in central Long Island before earning his college degree at Hofstra University and an MBA from Fordham University. The timing of Rob completing his advanced education coincided nicely with his family’s new hotel initiative, and Rob became the general manager of Wingate Inn in Garden City, New York. Driving that property to excellence was a key element of the family company’s early success – allowing the Salvaticos to invest in their Hotel Indigo and Holiday Inn Express properties on Long Island’s East End, which also prospered. As the company grew, so did Rob’s role, quickly earning promotion to president and chief operating officer (COO).

Hard hit – and healed – from recession

Few businesses experience uninterrupted growth, and the Salvaticos’ company, incorporated as JARAL Properties as their holdings became more numerous, was no exception. “The financial crisis and recession that shocked the economy in 2008 hit my industry hard,” Rob soberly recalls. “The years that followed were the toughest of my life. We were not sure when things would turn around, and we had to make many difficult decisions. As much as my family expressed gratitude when we got off to a great start in the hotel development business, we again turned to our faith and each other to persevere through a terribly rough time.”

The business has recovered fully from the challenges of 2008-12, and today Rob is growing his personal leadership to the next level. He completed the Energeia Partnership of Long Island in 2013, a community-focused curriculum for serviceoriented civic leaders and shortly thereafter accepted an appointment to the Molloy College Board of Trustees. In July 2016, Rob and his wife, Cynthia, joined Legatus, accepting an invitation from several of that chapter’s members who are active in business leadership organizations. Rob jokes that he is known widely as the “Hotel Guy” across Long Island. He hopes to translate his growing recognition and influence into good works for his community.

Change through affirmation

“The Salvaticos have always given back in a big way,” Rob expresses with pride. “Charity and community service are central to our company’s identity. We provide financial support, donate hotel stays, and volunteer hours to worthy causes all over Long Island and beyond.” Rob notes that his father, Albert, a student decades ago at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, today serves as chairman of the board there and is on campus giving back several times a week. Cardinal Hayes has a 100% minority student body and a 98% graduation rate. Rob is also active with Cardinal Hayes and his own alma maters, and says, “Every kid needs to know that they are believed in! Through mentorship and encouraging each young person, we can change lives and families just as mine was transformed.”

His mother, Jean, devoted many years working pro-bono for the Hospice Care Network until the need to care for family became greater, and she now serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Garden City. Rob credits his mother with being the figure in his life most responsible for keeping him strongly connected to the Church and the faith.

Looking forward, Rob is eager to continue growing his company and giving back. “Long Island is my home and I love it, but it has its challenges. Infrastructure issues, divisions among the various interest groups, class segmentation, young people migrating out and others. I am determined to be a part of the solution to these challenges and preserve my home as one of the best places in the world to live and work.”

Legatus has been a positive addition to his life at this exciting moment: “Long Island is a diverse Legatus chapter with many different age ranges, professional orientations, and personal backgrounds represented. It is blessed with amazing leadership starting with Paul and Sherry Durnan and Monsignor Jim Vlaun. Cynthia and I love the ‘date night’ aspect, and being around people who share our values and belief in service. It is important to us that Legatus is a Catholic organization, starting each meeting with the sacraments and Mass. Legatus is a perfect organization for someone with my family’s story and worldview to be an active part of.”

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