10 Minutes with Angelo SangiacomoFebruary 19, 2015
Born in 1924, Trinity’s founder Angelo Sangiacomo is the epitome of a self-made man. From his humble beginnings in San Francisco, he has built a major company from scratch. Now owning properties in more than 16 unique neighborhoods Trinity is one of the most well-known rental groups in SF. He took some time from his busy schedule to talk to us about his upbringing, on his company’s recent rebranding and what inspires him.
Q: We know you’re SF born and bred, but tell us a little more about the neighborhood you grew up in.
A: I was born and spent my formative years in the Richmond District. I absolutely loved it and I think it had a large influence on the work I started doing later on. Richmond is special. It’s a melting pot with a mix of different cultures all living in the same area. At the same time, it’s also quite residential and a lot of immigrant families would rent the houses they lived in. I think that was one of the first sparks that initiated all this for me—I wanted to be able to provide good homes for good people.
Q: When did you start in real estate?
A: It was shortly after WW2 when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in real estate as a salesman. We didn’t have Craigslist back then so I picked up a newspaper and looked at the real estate advertisements. I was lucky to find a one-off brokerage company out in the Avenues. I met with the owner and she brought me on board.
Q: You were doing well as a salesman, so what made you want to move on?
A: Well like you said, I was doing well. I’d succeeded at something I set out to do and so I wanted a new venture. I also wanted to build my own brand and create a company that held my ideals and showcased my innovative business practices.
Q: Starting a business like this is a lot of work for anyone, what did you find helped you in those early stages?
A: Hands down my family. I couldn’t have done it without them. My wife, Yvonne, provided counsel and held down the home front, taking care of our seven wonderful kids. My sister Rose, she was also monumental. She left her job at Liberty Mutual and joined the family business when I asked her for help. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of…to be able to call it a family business. It’s grown since then of course, but we started this as a family and because we felt a connection to the city and still do. I think we still have a family style philosophy at heart that we share with our tenants.
Q: Branding varies depending on a company and their style. What does branding mean to you?
A: Our brand is our company’s promise. It’s what we stand for and what we want our residents and The City to think of us. At the heart of it all is love. Our love for San Francisco, great architecture, amazing culture, diversity and each other. That is, the incredible family inside of Trinity. We wanted all of that to come through in our new branding and we believe we achieved that.
Q: What advice would you have for a budding entrepreneur?
A: I would say, be eager, be innovative and do not be afraid to rely on those around you for help. Your friends and family are a wonderful support system and if the tables were turned you’d help them out just the same.
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