St. Pete native Jon Reno LaBudde hasn't just watched St. Pete change, he's gotten in and gotten his hands dirty. The versatile entrepreneur has made his mark on St. Pete's culture through real estate, retail, and hospitality. He's the man behind St. Pete's original Big Catch and Reno Beach Surf Shop, as well as the highly anticipated Big Catch at Salt Creek. As one of the area's most influential commercial real estate developers, where LaBudde's name goes, investment is sure to follow.
Years in St. Pete
Born and raised.
Organizations involved in
Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business Association, Keep St. Pete Local.
What gets you out of bed every day?
Well normally the phone gets me out of bed. I have multiple careers, and my big boy career is commercial real estate. It sounds odd, but I’m very passionate about commercial real estate. Most people would think it is a kind of dry subject, but it’s not when you’re dealing with some of the wealthiest people in the world. That being equity groups out of New York City and Miami all the way to national franchises like Ruth Chris, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Hopdoddy. And when you’re dealing with those types of concepts, there’s fun and excitement and entertaining involved with that. I have other careers and that being in retail and the restaurant business. Some people claim that I am overwhelmed and I am overwhelmed, but the diversity keeps my mind going.
Why St. Pete?
As I mentioned, I was born and raised here, went to St. Pete High School, left to go to Florida State University, and came back and felt like since I knew St. Pete so well that maybe I could be a medium fish in a small pond. I was afraid if I ventured out into another metro area like Atlanta or something like that, I would have to start at the bottom. And I’m very fond of St. Pete. I think that anyone that knows me knows I’m one of the biggest St. Petersburg guys there is.
What is one habit that you keep?
Well the first thing that comes to mind is a business habit. It sounds primitive, but I am a data guru. and when I mentor people I tell them, “If anybody calls you, save the number.” And I know it sounds very pedestrian, but in my world where I’m looking for leads, prospects, and networking – even if the plumber calls me, I save his number as Plumber Joe et cetera. And in the commercial real estate world, which is currently busier than ever, I get 144 phone calls a day, so I try to keep every number. You’d be surprised that every number could probably contribute to your bottom line.
Who are some people that influence you?
I have had a lot of mentors in my life who I’ve leaned on, one being Daryl McClare from Echelon, one being Felix Fudge from Bridgeport South, but I also have leaned on my knowledge from reading books, one being called Never Eat Alone. But I’m a big historian buff, so I love reading biographies of people like Truman and Lincoln, etc, and I kind of lean on some of that knowledge I learn from some of those books.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
Interaction with all peoples. What I mean by that sometimes it’s said that I am too social, but if you’re a capitalist pig like myself, being social is how you interact with different people that can complement your life or enhance your life, and some people choose to be introverts and that’s difficult to expand your horizon whether it’s personal or business.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I wish I had known more about the technology that’s available for me. Even though I’m a mature person, I am so fascinated by technology and it’s ever-moving parts, and I wish that I had engaged technology a little bit more when I was early in my career. Now, after the fact, I am definitely engaged and definitely looking for new technology.
A minor snapshot is the former Fish Tale site, which is one of St. Petersburg’s few real waterfront operations. Myself and several of my friends are taking over that project and we are going to rehab it, renovate it, improve it, and rename it. It will be called The Big Catch on Salt Creek, and we hope it will make all locals proud of us and make a great product for everybody.