Dr. Alexander Rovt, an American Billionaire Businessman and Real Estate Investor, A DotCom Magazine Exclusive Interview

Alexander Rovt
Alexander Rovt

Dr. Alexander Rovt a successful and prominent businessman / investor is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Dr. Alexander Rovt provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of successful business and real estate empire.

Dr. Alexander Rovt joins other leading Bestselling Authors, International Speakers & entrepreneurs, CEOs, and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team is delighted to have Dr. Alexander join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview.

Dr. Alexander Rovt is a successful and wealthy businessman, with an estimated worth of over $1.3 billion, as well as an active philanthropist. He is a highly accomplished real estate investor and currently owns more than 50 investment properties. His holdings are primarily in New York City real estate, including several apartment buildings in Brooklyn. His most notable holding is 14 Wall Street, a 29-story office tower in Manhattan, which has nearly doubled in value since he purchased it for $303 million in 2012, in an all cash deal. In addition to these investments, Rovt owns the Aria Hotel in Budapest, Hungary and Hotel X Toronto, a luxury hotel with over 400 rooms and his largest investment outside of the United States.

Rovt was born in the former Soviet town of Mukachevo, now part of Ukraine, in the Carpathian Mountains. He grew up in an observant Jewish family near the border of Hungary. His mother was a hardworking homemaker and his father was a supervisor at a nearby knitting factory. Knowing that education would be the key to creating opportunities for himself, Rovt entered the Lviv Trade and Economic Institute, from which he graduated in 1973 with a doctorate in Economics. He later earned a Ph.D. in International Economics. Shortly after this, he emigrated to Hungary and took a stock position in a vegetable shop. In quick succession over a short period of time, he became a seller and then the store manager.

When only twenty seven years old, Alexander Rovt was made head of the sales department of fruits and vegetables for a state-owned produce distributor in Hungary. This was a leading government position, but he knew that it offered only limited success, so in 1985 he emigrated to the United States, along with his wife Olga. They decided on New York City, and Rovt took a job working in his uncle’s kosher deli as well as his cousin’s jewelry business.

Dr. Alexander Rovt’s career as a businessman took off when he began his work with the IBE Trade Corporation. IBE used the novel approach of dealing in emerging markets and selling to governments that did not have immediate access to hard currency. IBE accepted payment in hard commodities such as steel and coffee in exchange for its goods. Rovt was able to capitalize on his connections in the Eastern bloc countries and his working knowledge of the fertilizer industry, which he had gained during his time at the Hungarian produce distributor. With his help, IBE was able to build on its operations and soon was supplying goods to the Soviet Union in exchange for fertilizer, which it possessed in great quantity due to its abundant natural gas supply. Eventually, Rovt purchased IBE and the firm was soon manufacturing nitrogen-based fertilizers, which are used for industrial farming. Ultimately, IBE was in control of 70% of the Russian and Ukrainian ammonia trade. Rovt continued to make timely purchases of fertilizer plants throughout the 2000s, adding to his already highly profitable empire.

Over time, Alexander Rovt began investing in real estate. His first property purchased was a rental building in Brooklyn. He continued to build his real estate portfolio and, in 2012, he bought the Bankers Trust Building at 14 Wall Street for $303 million in cash. In recent years, Rovt has sold off his overseas assets in the fertilizer business, but he retains control of IBE Trade. Always preferring hard assets such as real estate and housing, Rovt has never put his money into stocks or bonds and always makes outright purchases thereby avoiding debt. He currently has a vast and diversified portfolio of properties, including hotels in Toronto, Canada and Budapest, Hungary, but his mainstay continues to be New York City real estate.

Dr. Alexander Rovt is also an active and involved philanthropist. He always demonstrates his belief that philanthropy is more than just writing checks. He endowed the Zvi Dov Roth Academy in Brooklyn, a school for Orthodox Jewish immigrants. The school is named after his grandfather, who was killed in the Holocaust. Rovt served on the NYC Board of Corrections as Vice Chairman and is a trustee of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees for One Brooklyn Health Systems, Inc., a healthcare network comprising three hospitals: Interfaith Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, and Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Governors of the Touro College & University System. Despite his many business obligations and charitable roles, Mr. Rovt always finds time to spend with his family and his close friends, with whom he has had meaningful relationships for much of his life.

Q: What made you decide to venture into real estate investing?

I have always had an interest in real estate, but it wasn’t until I felt like I had enough working capital that I really got involved. Real estate is a historically sound investment, and of all the cities in the world, New York is the investment and business capital. So it made perfect sense for me to start my real estate purchases here.

Q: On the other hand, why do you choose not to invest in the stock market?

I‘ve always preferred hard assets to stocks and bonds. I don’t have anything against investing in the stock market, but it’s not for me. I like to be in the driver’s seat, so to speak, of my investment choices. I haven’t done a lot of research into individual companies or the stock market, and I don’t want to have a broker or investment advisor in control of my money. I know about real estate and I take the time to look into every purchase myself.

Q: Throughout your career, what is one of the greatest challenges you had to face and how did you overcome it?

After emigrating to the US, I had to provide for my family and start working my way up over again. I had family here already and they helped me to find jobs to make sure I could get on my feet. But most of all, it was perseverance and determination. I knew that I had the skills and knowledge to be successful and then if I continued to work hard, it would only be a matter of time until I achieved what I was after.

Q: As an entrepreneur, what advice can you give to people who are planning to start a venture?

Do your research, invest in what you know, and be prepared to work hard. There are lots of trends that come and go, but there are many tried and true investments that can use a new approach or a well-thought out business plan. Don’t chase after something because it promises to be the next big thing or because someone claims to have made an extreme return on their investment. There are no easy ways to success.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

That is a tough question. I’ve had many jobs in my life that I enjoyed for different reasons. But right now my main focus is real estate, and I think that my favorite part of real estate investment is the search for the next great property. I enjoy the entire process, but finding what is new is probably the most exciting part.

Q: What do you think helped you succeed?

Part of what has made me successful over the years has been my conservative approach and hard work. I’ve never taken shortcuts. I always look at investments on a long term horizon. Not every investment is going to pay off and I haven’t been afraid to take risks, but by dealing with hard assets and sticking to the industries that I understand and have thoroughly researched, I have been able to make many more successful investments than those that didn’t work.

Q: What nonprofit organizations do you support and why?

I endowed the Zvi Dov Roth Academy, which is a school for Orthodox Jewish immigrants. I’ve also served on the New York City Board of Corrections as Vice Chairman. I’m the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for One Brooklyn Health Systems, and also serve on the Board of Governors of Touro College.

Q: How do you balance being an entrepreneur and a family man?

It has not been too difficult for me because I value my family above everything else. But at times wanting to provide the best for my family did cause me to overextend myself and take on too much work. The best way to make sure I was keeping a good balance was to have good communication with my family. They are able to be honest with me and let me know if I need to cut back on my workload.

Q: What advice would you give your younger self?

Keep your eye on the prize. It takes time to build a successful business, and you have to be able to make a lot of tough decisions. You have to know when it is time to transition to a new role or new business and you have to know when to cut your losses. Sometimes, that was the most difficult decision because my natural instinct is to make things work or turn things around, but from a business standpoint, sometimes, the best option is to close shop or unload an asset.

Q: How do you define success?

Being happy, making my loved ones happy, and being able to help others. I definitely get a sense of achievement with the work I do, and that plays a part in making me happy. But all the work I do and time I spend wouldn’t be worth anything to me if my family and closest friends weren’t happy. So spending time with them has always been a priority to me. I also think it is important to give back to the community and to give others chance at success.

Dr. Alexander Rovt, thank you so much for participating in the DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We appreciate you participating in this important roundtable interview series, and helping our readers learn more about what it takes to build a great company and become a great leader. We wish you, your family, and of course your entire business, nothing but the best.