This was, he says with a laugh, his “janitor in a drum” stage, a time when he was either in the warehouse or driving around town hoping to better understand Northeast Ohio’s real estate market.
The story began when Rubin moved to Cleveland after law school in the early ’80s, hoping to become a litigator. He readily admits, “I was bad.” So he became involved with real estate law. Actually, he became passionate about real estate. Zaremba Group, a national real estate organization, “drafted” him in 1983. Rubin started traveling coast to coast on Zaremba’s behalf, learning how real estate works in multiple markets. “It was better than a college education,” he admits. He excelled so well at this “education” that he quickly became the COO. His passion for real estate development became so strong that he decided to start his own real estate development company.
Rubin says he had always wanted to work for himself, and this was his chance. So he started The Coral Company in 1987 with partners Sanford Fox, Robert Hurwitz and Alan Markowitz. His goal was, and is, to grow the company at the rate of one employee and one property per year. Twenty years later, Coral has 75 employees and boasts more than 50 projects.
Known for his “thoughts of the day,” Rubin has created what has become the corporate mantra. “The way that we go about doing our business is to only promise what we can deliver and always deliver what we promise,” he says, explaining that learning this credo is part of Coral’s new employee orientation.
Rubin says The Coral Company’s corporate philosophy is to “identify places in the urban fabric where there has been a tear. Fix that tear. It may look shiny and new when we’re done, but all we’ve really accomplished is repairing that tear.”
Becoming involved with the community is also very much a part of the Coral culture. “I think that Cleveland stands on two pillars,” Rubin explains. “There’s industry from which we create jobs, and arts and culture from which we establish our quality of life. Coral is part of the industrial component. But, it is important to be involved in the arts and culture, as well.”
Coral employees are encouraged to become involved in the community and community programs. Employees are offered time off during the workday to participate on a board or get involved with a committee or fundraiser.
“We feel an obligation not only to invest financially in the community, but to invest philanthropically. So we’re involved in the opera, orchestra, schools of art and other community organizations because it’s not only good investment, it’s good business,” Rubin explains.