Mike Barsamian is the proud owner of a giant orange dinosaur.
The affable West Roxbury entrepreneur and CEO of the Belgrade Group, didn’t exactly set out to acquire the iconic fiberglass T-Rex, located adjacent to Route 1 in Saugus. Beginning in the 1960s, it had marked the entrance to a local recreation complex that included miniature golf, batting cages and soft-serve ice cream – a much-loved but tired complex his Belgrade Group recently purchased for redevelopment.
“It turns out everybody in the area knew and loved that dinosaur,” says Barsamian, whose company is constructing Essex Landing, an apartment, hotel and retail complex, on the site. “So we decided to keep it.”
Mike Barsamian is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. In addition to his land development activities, his Belgrade Group also owns 20 health and beauty salons under five brand-names, including Lord’s & Lady’s Hair Salon, Green Tangerine Spa & Salon and James Joseph Salon, the latter with a location on Boston’s upscale Newbury Street.
All of this keeps Barsamian pretty busy. It also requires a good banking relationship.
“Our ability to move quickly on the property in Saugus is all because of Needham Bank,” says Barsamian. “They had the foresight and confidence to loan us the money needed in a timely fashion.”
He says he prefers working with a smaller, community-oriented institution to a big bank. “With a big bank, you typically don’t get to meet with the President and discuss your business,” says Barsamian.
“With Needham Bank I got to sit down with (President & CEO) Joe Campanelli and discuss what we were trying to accomplish and our business case. It made all the difference.”
The transaction was significant – 14 acres of prime real estate and a project that needed $55 million in financing. But it demonstrates that, given the right criteria and circumstances, a well-capitalized Needham Bank is quite willing and able to take on large projects.
“In my experience, you need two things to borrow from a bank: character and collateral’ says Barsamian. “Needham Bank takes the time to assess a company’s character and that of its management. That creates trust and a true partnership.”
And while he believes his business will only end up acquiring one orange dinosaur, Barsamian says he is confident his relationship with Needham Bank will be a lasting one.
“That creates trust and a true partnership.”