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Edgardo Defortuna, the rainmaker

By Betty Cortina-Weiss

VITALS: Born in Buenos Aires, the eldest of four children; father owned an Argentinian power transformer manufacturing company, mother worked as a homemaker and moonlighted as a swim teacher; has a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering; married for 17 years to Ana Cristina, who works closely with him at Fortune International Realty; father of three boys, nine-year-old Andres, seven-year-old Alexander and five-year-old Edgardo. “We call him Edgardito,” says the proud papa, who frequently can be found cheering his boys at their soccer games.

CLAIM TO FAME: Founded Fortune International Realty in 1983; turned it into a top-shelf real estate firm catering to Latin American customers and the largest family-owned real estate firm in Florida; expanded services to include property management, financing and proprietary developments, the first of which was 2001’s Jade Residences at Brickell Bay.

HOT NEW PROJECT: The 55-story, oceanfront Jade Signature building in Sunny Isles Beach, featuring architecture by none other than Herzog & de Meuron, the same Swiss firm behind 1111 Lincoln Road and the new Pérez Art Museum Miami.

BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “It came from my father, who said it’s better to be wrong because you didn’t do a deal you should have done than to be wrong because you did a deal you should never have done. In other words, live in the present and don’t try to speculate what the future may or may not bring.”

MOMENT YOU KNEW YOU HAD MADE IT: “I’m still waiting! Seriously, my feeling is that you always have to strive for more, and if you think you already made it that just might be the beginning of your decline. I have a lot more to produce, and a lot more to do professionally and personally.”

WORST DAY EVER ON THE JOB: “I don’t know if there’s a specific day, but back in 2008, when buildings were being completed and less than 25 percent of buyers were even willing to close...those were scary days. Yet, through a lot of hard work and negotiations with lenders, we were able to help buyers pull through and turn those buildings into successes. When a door closes a window opens.”

If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?“Focus on what you bring to the table. Find the niche where you can offer something of value. You might not have capital or even a great idea, but if you focus on the talent or insight you do have you’ll always provide something of value.”

One thing people who know you don’t know about you?“That I always put my children and my family first—before my business. People sometimes see me leave the office at 4:30 and they might wonder where I’m going. Usually I’ve gone to see my son practice his soccer. Meetings can always wait. Those moments with family, once they pass, you never get them back.”