The Ties That Bond

“The focus was never this quarter or this year—it was building a business. In real estate, our views are the same. For the most part, our focus is building a portfolio of retail properties in Florida to hold in the family for generations to come.”—Gabriel Navarro (center)

With an intertwined family history and shared background and values, brothers Marcel and Gabriel Navarro and Martin Pico, now principals at MMG Equity Partners, coincide in their approach to business: building a legacy.

There are many common denominators that link the Navarro and Pico families of Miami. For starters, both left behind their lives in Cuba, fleeing the Castro regime to forge a better life in the United States. Through it all, the sons watched as their parents worked two or three jobs to keep the family afloat.

These days, it is this strong entrepreneurial spirit that has propelled brothers Marcel and Gabriel Navarro and Martin Pico to come together to form and grow MMG Equity Partners. Under their direction, this full-service real-estate investment and development company focuses on the long-term ownership, management, and acquisition of commercial and retail properties throughout South Florida. Before forming MMG Equity Partners, all of the principals were involved with Navarro Discount Pharmacies, known as the largest Hispanic drugstore chain in the United States.

“I think it’s a testament to how we all developed a very good work ethic by seeing the struggles our parents went through,” explains Pico. “Of course, we understand it much more today than when we were kids, but it’s their examples of a strong work ethic that has not only created who we are as individuals,  but also why we all seemed to gel so well from the very beginning. It’s a related family story in many respects—not just on how we started working together but also our cultures, our backgrounds, our history.”

Indeed, the connections between the two families are many. “My father used to have a Pepsi distribution company in Cuba and he used to service Navarro Pharmacy,” explains Pico. “I went to college and eventually became fraternity brothers with Marcel, and went on to marry his and Gabriel’s sister Patricia.”

After graduating from law school at the University of Miami, Pico became a partner at a law firm and began doing some legal work as outside counsel for Navarro Pharmacy, working with brothers Gabriel and Marcel. “My father has always stressed the importance of a long-term view in business,” explains Gabriel. “At Navarro, he always stressed the importance of driving customer traffic and sales, and that by doing so over time, profits would come. The focus was never this quarter or this year—it was building a business. In real estate, our views are the same. For the most part, our focus is building a portfolio of retail properties in Florida to hold in the family for generations to come. With that mentality, we look at opportunities with a medium to long-term horizon, versus simply what the asset will return today.”

“What we began as real-estate investments on the side to some degree has grown through new investments, leading us today to have an ownership interest in over 1.6 million square feet of commercial and retail property,” adds Pico.

The professional and personal stake that both the Navarro and Pico families have in the success of MMG Equity Partners cannot be understated. “We were fortunate in that my grandparents, parents, and uncle built a family business over generations that allowed for future generations to grow into it if they so chose, and it was a large enough organization that each one of us could find and grow into an area that suited us,” explains Navarro. “In MMG, we have the opportunity to do the same for the generations that come after us.  I hope that MMG over time can afford the same thing to our children if they chose, as I saw how a family business can be incredibly effective at keeping the family together.”

The opportunity to work together in a family business and continue growing it translates into more than just a financial investment, says Pico. “You want to see not only that you are building a company for it to be profitable, but you want to see how you can translate the same work ethics and the same values that we learned from our parents now to our kids as we are now their role models.”