WORK LIFE PROFILE

Matchmaking

Broker Roy Duenas helps buyers and sellers change their lifestyles


In addition to running North Florida Business Brokers Inc., Roy Duenas found the time to provide 600 maps for the publication, "The Smithsonian, Atlas of The Amazon."

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, January 12, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 11, 2004 at 10:36 p.m.

Facts

PROFILE: ROY DUENAS

  • PERSONAL: married, two children

  • CAR HE DRIVES: 1996 Grand Marquis

  • LAST MOVIE SEEN: "Finding Nemo"

  • LAST BOOK READ: "The Questions That Matter," by Ed Miller

  • BEST ADVICE RECEIVED: "Always be fair and honest," from his father.

  • HIS GUIDING LIGHT: Doing good to anybody and everybody, and being brutally honest.

  • Roy Duenas is in the match-making business - for sellers and buyers of businesses.
    "Besides the mechanics of helping people buy and sell businesses, this company is really for changing lifestyles," said Duenas, owner and operator of North Florida Business Brokers Inc. (NFBB) in Gainesville.
    The company was established by Anita Jones back in 1986, two years after Duenas moved to Gainesville from Daytona.
    He began brokering businesses through her office, which primarily served Alachua County and some parts of Marion County.
    He purchased the business about two years ago, and it has since expanded to offer statewide service.
    "We represent businesses listed by the Florida Business Brokers Association and the Business Brokers of Florida," he said.
    "On the buying side, we work with U.S. buyers, and Latin American and European buyers who want to buy in Florida. We get a lot of buyers coming into this country. We help them immigrate to the U.S."
    The 51-year-old Duenas credits the expansion to his Web site, established in the last two to three years, which lists about 2,400 businesses for sale and gets an average of 154 inquiries a day.
    "It is so successful that we're getting 98 percent of our business through the Internet," he said. "We extended our market worldwide by being the first business brokerage to have a Web site."
    Of the average 154 inquiries, his company has follow-ups of about 10 percent, he said.
    "We sell a business after 3,452 solid inquiries, and it doesn't take too long to build up to that number on the Internet," he said. His staff includes two brokers in addition to himself.
    The 9/11 terrorist attacks in this country proved to be a pivotal point not only for this country but also for his business, Duenas said.
    "That same afternoon of 9/11, we had many calls from New York City. It was a phenomenon that we couldn't have expected and we didn't know how to handle," Duenas said.
    "I was doing the phones that day and I was the one receiving these phone calls from New Yorkers, desperate, saying 'Get me a business, get me out of here.' So that served a purpose for us to say, OK, we have a business. They didn't care what kind of business. They just wanted to change their lifestyle that day, that instant."
    Duenas said it was good, in a sense, that air travel was shut down for a while because that gave the callers a cooling-off period.
    "Out of those many calls, we have two New Yorkers that did fly down as soon as the planes resumed (flying), and they didn't go back."
    While a house may sell in about 45 days, it takes from two months to two years, depending on pricing and the seller's ability to prove the owner's benefit, he said.
    "You have to look for the right buyer, and have the right seller, a patient seller, but we demand, first and foremost, honesty from the sellers and honesty from the buyers," Duenas said. His company's motto is to be brutally honest, which is crucial in his business, he added.
    Owners want to sell for a variety of reasons, some because their business could no longer support their lifestyle, he said.
    "A business owner very frequently forgets that the business is what's keeping them in their lifestyle. They get very complacent. Their expenditures are high. All of a sudden, when the economy turns around like it did for the last two or three years, they don't go back to doing what they did when they first got their business," he said.
    When it comes to buyers, many don't know what kind of business they want, he said.
    "We have that beautiful opportunity to match the buyer with a business out there that we feel that they are going to be happy with," he said, adding that his company also offers management services and a guarantee.
    When David Massias, a former lawyer from New York City and now owner of Christian Gator bookstore on Archer Road, began his search for a business in Gainesville, he turned to Duenas for help.
    "Roy showed me different options," said Massias, who bought his business last July. "He was a very strong resource in this community, very professional, considerate and has a lot of integrity," said Massias, who specialized in mergers and acquisitions during his seven years practicing law. "Roy showed me opportunities to review and decide upon."
    While at any given time, about 2,400 listings are on the company's Web site, his in-office listings have been pared to about 50 in the last year.
    "Sellers have to be willing to transfer their know-how, their experiences and their success to the new owners," Duenas said. "If they're not willing to work with the new until the new owners are assured they will be successful, we can't list them."
    A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Duenas, who holds American citizenship, received a bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Michigan in 1974.
    While working for Embry-Riddle as a data processing manager, he was hired by several insurance companies in Venezuela to handle international mergers and acquisitions, he said, gaining the experience that ultimately led to his current work.
    Duenas now plans to expand his operation into the Central American country of Belize, where he said he expects to open an office this year.
    It's no coincidence that Belize is also where he will have the opportunity to indulge in his favorite past-time - snorkeling - which he said he hasn't had much time for in the last year.
    Duenas did have time, though, to work as a cartographer on "The Smithsonian, Atlas of The Amazon." Authors of the book, published in 2003 by the Smithsonian Institution, are Michael Goulding, Ronaldo Barthem and Efrem Ferreira.
    Duenas, who drew about 600 maps for the publication, received a credit for cartography.
    Doris Chandler can be reached at (352) 374-5094.

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