Executive Brief: Robert Bruno
|Partner, Bruno and Bruno|
Robert Bruno has been a partner with the law firm Bruno and Bruno since 1983. In 2000, he and his brothers founded Bruno Brothers Management & Development Co., which owns shopping centers, office buildings, business parks and hundreds of acres of commercial land in the Gulf South. He also serves on the board of commissioners for the Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District (which is responsible for the Superdome, among other facilities) and on the Louisiana Board of Regents.
With the economy such as it is, how is your development work?
I hate to be pessimistic, but things have slowed down very much with respect to the raw land purchases. Luckily, we're way ahead of the game—all of our infrastructure and wetlands mitigation has been taken care of, so we have a number of sites that are ready to go. We're really concentrating on the shopping center side of our business, which is going very well.
Tell us about those shopping centers.
We have a significant amount of retail square footage, from the Lafayette area down to Biloxi and stretching over to Hammond. Overall, we're about 90% leased. The main focus today is we are actively partnering with our tenants to ensure their financial success.
You're still involved with the Superdome?
Yes, and that's one of my proudest accomplishments, to see what we've been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. I was appointed by then-Gov. [Kathleen] Blanco right after Katrina, when there was a hole in the roof. I remember when the new commission took over, we had all these really great new guys come on, and everybody had all their dreams and their wishes, and it was like, "Wow, wouldn't it be great if we could have a grand entrance to the 'Dome? Wouldn't it be great if we could have a plaza out there like some of these other great stadiums?" It was only a pipe dream at the time; to think that we've already pulled it off is just remarkable.
What are some of the other endeavors you're involved in?
One of the most exciting things that my brothers and I are engaged in is we have now acquired a 40% stake in PJ's Coffee & Tea. That is a very intriguing company with us. It fits in very naturally with our retail side. The other is the explosive growth of our coffee roasting facility and our product called New Orleans Roast. We feel like our brand is poised for national and international growth.
I love Dakota in Covington.
What's your secret to being successful in business?
In law, having great mentors. That's also very important in business, especially when you come into a new field late in the game and you realize very quickly that you have to catch up, and the only way to catch up is to surround yourself with quality people. As my father said when we were young working with him in the cabinet shop, "Nobody taught me how to make furniture. You have to steal a trade." I've always used that mentality. You have to steal ideas ... steal a trade, and not in a negative sense, but a positive sense. When you see somebody who is successful, then you mimic them.
Who do you admire most in the local business community?
I really admire Jimmy Moran. I like the fact that Jimmy and Stirling [Properties] have brought a big-time sense of development to our area. I admire Ron Forman; I like what he did with the Audubon Institute. So many times, we just don't think big and we just don't reach out.
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Marie Desormeaux Centanni