Community & Green Trends

Eric Trump, His Family’s Passion and Charitable Pursuits

Eric Trump  Photo Credit: Jim McGuire
Eric Trump
Photo Credit: Jim McGuire

Eric Trump is a likable guy. He is an accomplished and media savvy professional, and is very generous in his philanthropic efforts. As part of the Trump team, which includes his controversial father, his gorgeous sister and another brother, he works with them to operate an amazing line of hotels and resorts. While you may think the Trump-hosted reality television show, Celebrity Apprentice, as trashy entertainment, these hotels are the opposite; seriously high quality. The Trump Tower in Chicago is truly the best hotel in a town full of great hotels. What makes a Trump property the best is a combination of service and quality. Everything about the rooms are top of the line: marble bathrooms and kitchens, huge beds with super soft linens, automated blinds and lighting, are all standard issue. The staff are outstanding; friendly, knowledgeable with perfect manners.

The Trump family makes a conscious effort to take advantage of the personality of each location. You’ll feel the aloha spirit in Waikiki or feel the very cool in Soho. Each location reflects it’s own culture and geographical context. In referring to Las Vegas Trump, Eric Trump says, “We built that with 24 carat gold, and it is very Las Vegas. You walk into the lobby and it is bright and energetic, it’s amazing and it’s very contextual to that city. If you look at Chicago — and I spent a lot of time building both of these buildings — and you look at the setbacks on our building, they match the setback and height of Wrigley, it matches the roofline height of the IBM building, and it’s very contextual to Chicago.” Both properties have different interiors too — one is flashy and incredibly rich — very Vegas. Chicago is every bit as luxurious, modern and with architecture that reflects the feeling of the city.

As a family owned company it is excused from the pressure to perform in the way a public company can be expected to grow. The only goal, be it hotel, golf course, residential or commercial property, is to locate the absolute best locations; the physical property and their service has to be the best. Once they find the perfect location they jump in. Eric says, “We build icons and if they can’t be icons then we have no interest. When those opportunities dry up then we are happy to sit back, as a family, and manage our assets incredibly well. It’s not the only real estate model that works; it’s just our singular focus.”

Eric is not all business, all the time; he’s very generous, particularly with regard to his own foundation: The Eric Trump Foundation. Being self aware, Eric realized a long time ago that he was incredibly fortunate to be from a wealthy family with many assets and philanthropic friends. They also have a business platform they can use to raise money for the foundation. Eric started the foundation right out of college when he and some friends arranged a golf tournament -— using the family golf courses — and raised $300,000, all of which went to St. Jude. The next year they doubled that gift, and then doubled again and again. Last year they raised $2.8M for the hospital. Eric has had a lot of fun getting every facet of the family business involved. He’s gone to the contractors building their properties and asked them to donate, as well as giving guests checking into their hotels and golf courses the opportunity to participate in the giving. Each of the hotel locations enjoy competing with each other to raise the most money. Last year over the holidays in Chicago, the pastry chefs worked through out the night to create a gingerbread elevator, called the Gingerbread Express. The elevator had a working fireplace and even a train that went around the ceiling. Each guest who wanted to ride the elevator was asked to make a donation and they were quite generous donating $20 here or $100 there. They ended up raising around $200,000 over a few days on the Gingerbread Express and were the envy of the other Trump properties.

The foundation benefits St. Jude. Every dollar raised is sent directly to St. Jude without a lot of expenses going to fancy PR teams or high-paid “non-profit” executives. Eric picked St. Jude because, he said, that they are the best at what they do. Taking on the worst children’s cancer cases, they have an incredibly impressive survival rate. Through their research they have improved the survival rate of leukemia -— once only 3% in the 1960s, to today’s survival rate of 97%; a very impressive feat, indeed. impressive feat, indeed.

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