Sam Suzuki has been all business ever since he was a kid. At age 14, he started his first business, putting decorative stickers on Zippo lighters.
At age 18, he purchased his first property, a Forest Hills condo that he rented out.
Suzuki said that he was left waiting for over an hour at an attorney’s office to close the deal on the condo. When he asked why, they said that they thought he was just a child.
“We’re waiting for your father … we’re waiting for Mr. Suzuki,” they told him. “I’m Mr. Suzuki,” he told them.
That’s when he first got the real estate bug.
“I was one of those weird kids that really wasn’t into being a kid,” he said. “I was really intrigued with business. At 14, I was reading the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.”
In college, he majored in accounting and wanted to become an FBI agent, but his love for business pulled at his heartstrings. He got a job advising homebuyers with their mortgage loans at Dime Savings Bank in Forest Hills, where he fell in love with the real estate industry.
“I found that I liked it,” Suzuki said. “I was helping people buy their first home and realize their dreams. And most of my clients were immigrants coming in and this was the biggest deal of their life—of buying a home, where they were coming from countries where it was unimaginable to buy a home.”
Now, Suzuki owns his own development company, Suzuki Capital LLC, which deals with financing and development, and has been in the business for 33 years. Suzuki Capital is based in Manhattan with projects all over the nation, including one project in Queens near Long Island City. He also teaches at Baruch College and New York University as a guest lecturer, speaking on real estate development and construction finance, which he said is his favorite part of his work.
Suzuki, whose family hails from Japan, realized that there weren’t many Asian realty professionals at that time, and he believed that he could make a difference.
He has memories of helping his clients get their lives started. More than 20 years ago, Suzuki did financing for Kiss Nails. That financing helped the company grow to become a big player in the fingernail supply industry.
“I loved watching them build their business—they are the epitome of the American dream, coming here with nothing and building it into something special,” he said. “You meet a lot of these clientele that they’re living the American dream of building a business, and they’re hiring people and they’re creating jobs and they’re creating wealth, and that makes you feel good about yourself.”
He pointed to Flushing as a center of that growth.
With the boom of development in Flushing, there are concerns as to how infrastructure can keep up, as roadways get more crowded, walkways grow more congested and public transit takes on heavier burdens. Suzuki suggested that Flushing follow the master plan that guided development in Jersey City.
“The master plan looks like a bull’s-eye,” he said. “I think Flushing should have the same thing: a bull’s-eye. Inside the bull’s-eye, no cars, no parking, very limited, limited parking mainly only for shopping, not for residential.”
While the center of the bull’s-eye would be a walking area, with certain parts of downtown Flushing blocked off to cars and restricted to walking and public transit. The next circle of the bull’s-eye would have more residential parking and the outer circle, near the border of Bayside, would have unrestricted parking.