Harry Avila – Reflections On Life

 

About Harry Avila

Harry Avila has spent parts of nine decades living in the Washington Township area. An entrepreneur at heart, Harry has worked in a vast number of industries during his life including farming, ranching, pharmacy, banking and real estate. Harry is an active member of the Niles Rotary club and served on the board of directors for Washington Hospital for more than two decades. Harry received a Doctor of Pharmaceutical Sciences degree from University of California San Francisco as well as an MBA from California State University-East Bay.

 

Interview Transcript of: Harry Avila – Reflections On Life

Alan
Welcome back. I’m visiting here today with Harry Avila. Harry, Welcome to today’s show.

Harry
Thank you, Owens. Pleasure to be here.

Alan
So, Harry, you’ve been a longtime resident of the Fremont area. And I’d like to spend some time kind of reflecting of what you see over the years right now we see starter homes at a million dollars. But it wasn’t always that way. What What was the community like when you first came here?

Harry
Well, when I first came here, when I was born here, so this was in the 30s. So I’ve actually spent parts of nine decades in Washington Township, Fremont nor Union City. What it was like was, it was farmland, there were 10,000 people, it was immigrants, primarily a Azorean. Immigrants while I was here, particularly in the Warm Springs area.

Alan
Now you ended up you know, going getting an education in the pharmacy area and becoming a pharmacist initially?

Harry
What you know, I started out dad had a farm. As a matter of fact, the farm is located where the insulin entrance to Tesla is today. My grandfather had bought that back in 89. So when it came time to choosing an occupation, I started San Jose State, then UC Berkeley, then you see Med Center coming out in the early 60s.

Alan
And then and then what was it like Gad, trying to develop a career out here? I guess your dad was in the farming industry you mentioned?

Harry
Well, you know, it was funny, because you reflect back on you see that these people were working strong 40 hours a week, and then they would come home, and they would do their farming then too. So it’s not unusual if you worked, you know, midnight or graveyard shift, to suddenly come home at eight o’clock in the morning, sleep a few hours and get up and start farming. And indeed, We rose raised eight old hay in the Warm Springs area. And it was really something where you struggled to make that extra $2,000 a year because that was big money at that time, of course.

Alan
So 10,000 People in the in the community in my early third entire

Harry
area on here, and now we’re pushing 300,000-350,000.

Alan
Why did you decide to move away from agriculture as a career?

Harry
Well, my mother worked in Milpitas. And it was just about the time that the automobile industry was coming into the Ford factory in Milpitas, General Motors here. And at that point, she was working for a physician. And I had the ability to go over and sit behind the counter at the local drugstore, much more interesting than what the physician was doing. The books were a lot better if there were comic books, and hence sell cracker Lucy, who had the pharmacy and ultimately became a mover and shaker became sort of my mentor was an easy decision to go to UC State of California was superb in the education that he provided me.

Alan
And still is a great educational, superb, superb. So you had that you know, fast forwarding app period. So that graduation from school was the 50s?

Harry
Actually early 60s, I got my doctorate then. And then as I came back to this community, and did some relief work, pharmacy work, and then a short stint in the army, excuse me, the Air Force, and then the California National Guard. I came back out and there was a group who were franchise in pharmacies at that time, looking for young pharmacists to come in. And they would give us 50% of the operation to buy out in five years, and hence not unlike wraxall and Walgreens at the time, I had the opportunity to pick up a pharmacy in the area in in the village of Niles, which became my home base. Franchising was a new concept back then. Absolutely. Frank Ferguson and Harry barrels were way ahead of their times. They had a pharmacist out of Lafayette area by the name of Bill Eames, who was just a superb intrapreneur and really provided great ideas.

Alan
So how many years did you do the pharmacy poor?

Harry
Well, I stayed there until about 1968. But at that time, it was an amazing concept because what was happening is that Niles was in one of its typical doldrums going down, and Mrs. Grimshaw came up and said Harry, won’t you buy my hotel? And I said, I’m a pharmacist. I know nothing about hotels. Oh, please buy it Harry. My husband has passed on. So I got three other guys and each of us put in $10,000 we suddenly found ourselves owner of The Niles Wesley hotel 26 rooms renting out plus about 5000 square feet below plus back areas to be rented and from their career in real estate began.

Alan
You know, Harry, I I’m running up against the break but I want to circle back to Niles, the history of Niles because very unique background, how it was a movie production area, but I need to take a quick break shortly and we’ll be right back after this message is we’re visiting here today with Herry Avila longtime Fremont resident and we’ll be right back.

Alan
Welcome back. I’m visiting here today with Harry Avila and Harry in the first segment we’re talking about you landed your first business pharmacy in Niles but I let’s circle back on. Niles had Niles, get his name and, and and some of the history there.

Harry
Its fascinating, because you look at it today, and it’s a one block long with three blocks deep of the commercial area. But you don’t really realize significance that when the Transcontinental Railroad 1869 went from California back into St. Louis Chicago, that Niles was the last jumping off point from the Bay Area before goods were shipped to Chicago. So what occurred was that the Central Pacific Railroad established the new town, the current town of Niles, it ended up that because it was the last stop, you suddenly had four large hotels. Three story, the venue’s on there. And with people meeting the 26 trains a day because there was so much traffic and the opportunity to send the agricultural products, the orange trees from the shin nursery items from the California nursery back to the Eastern Market. Niles was a booming booming town and continued on so because in 1912, Bronco Billy Anderson and George spore s and a developed Niles saw Niles as the area for the movie industry. So between 12 and 1612, and 15, they produced over 375 movies featuring Charlie Chaplin, featuring so many of the early movie stars coming out of Niles. And what occurred was, was that the local people, obviously had roles as either extras, or ultimately followed them down to Hollywood when the movie occurred. So fascinating area. What occurred subsequently to that on there was that Niles itself began to develop, he had automobility agencies coming in to Julio Pontiac, the Chevrolet agent and ciency, the rose Ford agency. So Niles was a booming area because it was on the San Jose to Oakland, upper road Mytho mission Boulevard. So in essence, it really went through times. And early on, they all wanted to make it the county seat for Alameda County. What occurred after that, obviously, the depression, hit doldrums had all sorts of elements. When I came in, in the early 60s, we were having one of the down areas, and which afforded me the opportunity to really get to know that town well. And so as you sat around, you saw all of these people who loved the community, we sat down and we said, hey, what can we do? And one of my customers came in and said, Why don’t we start a flea market? That flea market is still going some 50 plus years later on? Because each year, the community in the last week in August, comes together and literally has an entire community day of sales in such fantastic element. The Niles Christmas parades had its start much later, but yet that continues on. So you have a very tight community in which we have six. Yes, six museums in that town. You say really museums, well, they’re quasi museums, but they’re amazing areas. You know, if you go to the bus Museum, there’s a 30 music 30 buses from antique vintage there. The Niles Essanay theater has over 13,000 films, silent films, one of the largest collections of films, and obviously there are four other areas that we could go on. Hey, that’s a really a purchase in it for the nails village.

Alan
It is in the I think that we people often will drive through Niles they’ll see the old structures but they don’t understand these histories. I appreciate the insight on out. I’m visiting here today with Herry Avila. He’s a longtime Fremont resident first business over Niles and Harry, I need to take a quick break and we’ll be right back after these messages.

Alan
Welcome back and visiting here day with Harry Avila. He’s a longtime Fremont resident and Harry in the earlier segments, we talked about Niles, a place that you had your first business, I bought a hotel, and there and then 9060, you, you transitioned into a different type of career direction, what inspired you for this?

Harry
California offered so many opportunities for a salad. What I found was that as you begin to network in the community, our community here, Washington Township, Fremont, New York, some amazing people. So for example, in the early 60s, let’s say about 65, the CPA came into my life, a kid by the name of Bob de Marta, who ultimately started a firm called Greenstein, Tamara and Rogoff, you may be familiar with Oh, yeah. 65 To today of 2018, my God, that’s 53 years out that I’ve been associated with your firm on here and wisely so because if one selects the proper CPA, financial people, the best attorney you can get which I had an airy shepherd. And then you also establish relationships with the financial institutions, things can happen, and that’s indeed what happened because in 68, I saw the opportunity to move out Dakota road, and Alvarado Niles and we opened up a pharmacy there, cross from Washington Hospital, I had the opportunity to open up Maori pharmacies. And then we began to distribution into hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities. And then there was some pharmacists who simply wanted to sell their pharmacies. I had young pharmacists who were willing to come in, and this community provided some superb people who worked for our organization. And it came easy. However, you know, as it came on, you suddenly find out that the opportunities in real estate in California were so great that suddenly you said, Hey, I’m, it’s really necessary to spend more time. At the same time, the education that the University of California had provided me gave me a large background in health care. And I joined the Washington Hospital board and spent 20 some odd years as chairman of the board is development of strategic planning, during a very significant part of the development of Washington Hospital that gave me additional education and hopefully help the community in the early 80s. Some of my buddies again, having to do with the legal and financial elements, as well as the accounting said, Hey, why don’t we start some banks, banking for me, and ultimately, that’s where Mission Valley banker, California bank shares, and ultimately, US Bank came in when we sold with some 32 units. So it’s been a fast life, Elon, but really, California offers these opportunities, in particular, Washington Township, and it’s a really an amazing, amazing story, that kid comes off the farm, and has the opportunity to do all of these things. Because of the relationships that you develop, and the opportunities you have.

Alan
As you reflect back today, and fast forwarding it to the world today, if you were, if you were that young entrepreneur today. Would you see the same opportunities in place that you saw back then?

Harry
Absolutely. But first, you know, you recognize that it’s the extended family that is also so key that I had an extended family in the Portuguese community, and the extended family in the Italian community and my God, they helped me to raise three marvelous kids who had a marvelous mother. And you know, that’s really the life gratifications but the opportunities no in in 62, I walked through Frank Goins, laboratory and physical chemistry. And upon his desk, Frank said, Harry, look at this. And I said, What is it that you’re building? And he said, it’s a computer? He said, Harry, you should really come in as a teaching assistant, and join me in the building of this computer. I said, I gotta get into retail pharmacy. I don’t have time. I for that nonsense. You know. So there are opportunities bypass that are opportunities taken. But they are still available today. So many aggressiveness, a little risk taking when you’re younger, but they’re available to you.

Alan
Yeah, it’s amazing how that this whole area has transformed from the farming community in the Silicon Valley. And now that the high rise and the infrastructure is just, you know, the housing can’t be found its.

Harry
The housing is the issue isn’t heard on there, you know, we’ve seen it so close to us here, right on the other side of BART with the Guardino property going up. And in Niles, we see changes, certainly, this is an area. And I think that we’re going to go into an area of very significance, because if we do not choose to find affordable housing, indeed, the economy will lapse, because we depend so much on people today. Very interesting times. And indeed, therein lies the opportunity. My son is involved in marketing, excuse me, in development of homes. And already, you know, you see people going out to the Rio Vista area, further on out, so this demands transportation, and he’s egress and ingress into the Bay Area. So what does it hold? It holds opportunity to solve these problems.

Alan
That’s a very keen observation. And I think that, you know, we’ve seen in San Francisco real estate market, the fact that they can’t get the workers because it’s too expensive to live there, they’ve had to scale back and slow down.

Harry
That’s correct. And that couldn’t be well be the limiting factor. And how do you go about attracting people? Obviously, salary is one. But more important is the quality of life, and the quality of accommodations that you afford them. Plus, the most valuable thing we have is our time. And if we spend it traveling to and from work, that’s not really a proper use of our time.

Alan
So reflecting back at the things that let’s start with things that you regret that you wish you would have done in a different.

Harry
Alan listen that list becomes so large, but the as we’re talking, it’s the humorous things that you have, that you regret, as you looked at. Coming home, from San Jose State, you stopped off every day at a hamburger place, and bought that 14 cent hamburger. And you knew that that new hamburger place that was selling their hamburgers, for 15 cents, was never going to make it some outfit by the name of McDonald’s, I think. So you looked at that lab, in the 70s people came in and said, Please, can we put in software into your pharmacies, and utilizing give you some diversification? I said, That’s ridiculous. All the software that’s ever been developed has been developed, there is no market coming up on there. Alan, there’s so many areas of regret that you have, the thing to really consider is to keep the ones mind open, and to constantly be motivated to go upwards and get additional education. So you understand what’s going on.

Alan
As we look at the spectrum of life. And this is this is not an easy question that I have to ask carry greatest accomplishments when you look back things that you really are proud of?

Harry
You know, as I just spent a weekend with my oldest son, and you’re looking at and you’re saying, oh my gut, that kid is my son. And I hope you recognize his abilities. His intensity, he’s doing Ironman. He’s going back to Boulder on June 10 to compete in hopes of going into Kona Ironman championship World Championship. His attitude, his understanding and his way to deal with people. The Tim, my middle son has gone through three startups now. And just each one he brings so much skill to it. My point i It’s almost ridiculous for me to ask him what he’s doing because his algorithms and the development of products is really unique. And Gina Marie is up in Seattle with Amazon as a vice president now doing so well. My God, those are accomplishments. Perhaps I had a little bit to do with it. But it was so much more the extended family that really made a difference. Their mother was superb. And you don’t Ellen, that brings up an interesting point. Because Janet was just his superb, superb woman. And we let weeds grow in our marriage garden. Certainly my fault, but everyone’s fault. That is one of perhaps not an accomplishment, but maybe an understanding now is do not let weeds grow in that marriage garden. pluck them out 10 to put a little fertilizer on them, make sure you take care of that’s sort of one of the regrets of my life. Other accomplishments, you know, the work that I’ve done with the communities in Niles Rotary, after 50 years, and you see the local community, the national and international effects of Rotary, because after all, in that organization, you get anything done that you want, whether it’s a breast cancer program in the Azores, or housing in New hospitals in Guatemala, or water in Kenya, or just a simple local scholarship here and sending a kid back to London, for his masters, you can make a difference on there. So those are in the Washington Hospital years, you know, you look now and see how Washington has integrated not only medical care, but community public health care, and additional sources of revenue. For example, the Walgreens development on Arizona, owned by Washington, and came about because of a willingness to step out and perceive a hospital district as more than just delivering health, both hospitals, health care services, telling, I’m not sure what accomplishments I’ve had, my I did knock my handicap down to a 13 on the golf. That’s a pretty good accomplishment. And hopefully, I’ve made this some friends. I know I’ve got a few that I should patch up. But I really had some great relationships in my life.

Alan
It’s interesting as we as we go through life, managing our day to day and in every decision we make has a whole set of consequences. So true. But we learned in the process. So Harry, it’s been a pleasure having you here today. most enjoyable and just getting this little piece of history in Fremont from a lifelong resident, and in and it’s been a remarkable life. And, you know, and fair. And also I appreciate the times that we’d known each other has been going on some 30 years now.

Harry
Yes. And he’s let’s not understate the effect of your CPA on your life, big, big things. And then we can go back to Lloyd’s of London and how Maury, your partner saved my backside and so many.

Alan
Thanks for being on today’s show.

Harry
Certainly my pleasure.

 

To receive our free newsletter, contact us here.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more interviews and updates.

This transcript was generated by software and may not accurately reflect exactly what was said.

Alan Olsen, CPA

Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of GROCO.com.  GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.

Alan L. Olsen, CPA, Wikipedia Bio

 

 

GROCO.com is a proud sponsor of The American Dreams Show.

 

American-Dreams-Show-Accounting-firm-in-ca-cpa-tax-advisors-groco-alan-olsen

The American Dreams show was the brainchild of Alan Olsen, CPA, MBA. It was originally created to fill a specific need; often inexperienced entrepreneurs lacked basic information about raising capital and how to successfully start a business.

Alan sincerely wanted to respond to the many requests from aspiring entrepreneurs asking for the information and introductions they needed. But he had to find a way to help in which his venture capital clients and friends would not mind.

The American Dreams show became the solution, first as a radio show and now with YouTube videos as well. Always respectful of interview guest’s time, he’s able to give access to individuals information and inspiration previously inaccessible to the first-time entrepreneurs who need it most.

They can listen to venture capitalists and successful business people explain first-hand, how they got to where they are, how to start a company, how to overcome challenges, how they see the future evolving, opportunities, work-life balance and so much more.

American Dreams discusses many topics from some of the world’s most successful individuals about their secrets to life’s success. Topics from guest have included:

Creating purpose in life / Building a foundation for their life / Solving problems / Finding fulfillment through philanthropy and service / Becoming self-reliant / Enhancing effective leadership / Balancing family and work…

Untitled_Artwork copy 4

MyPaths.com (Also sponsored by GROCO) provides free access to content and world-class entrepreneurs, influencers and thought leaders’ personal success stories. To help you find your path in life to true, sustainable success & happiness.  I’s mission statement:

In an increasingly complex and difficult world, we hope to help you find your personal path in life and build a strong foundation by learning how others found success and happiness. True and sustainable success and happiness are different for each one of us but possible, often despite significant challenges.

Our mission at MyPaths.com is to provide resources and firsthand accounts of how others found their paths in life, so you can do the same.

Harry Avila on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Harry Avila

Harry Avila has spent parts of nine decades living in the Washington Township area. An entrepreneur at heart, Harry has worked in a vast number of industries during his life including farming, ranching, pharmacy, banking and real estate. Harry is an active member of the Niles Rotary club and served on the board of directors for Washington Hospital for more than two decades. Harry received a Doctor of Pharmaceutical Sciences degree from University of California San Francisco as well as an MBA from California State University-East Bay.

Alan Olsen on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Alan Olsen

Alan is managing partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, (GROCO) and is a respected leader in his field. He is also the radio show host to American Dreams. Alan’s CPA firm resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves some of the most influential Venture Capitalist in the world. GROCO’s affluent CPA core competency is advising High Net Worth individual clients in tax and financial strategies. Alan is a current member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (S.I.E.P.R.) SIEPR’s goal is to improve long-term economic policy. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and develops innovative financial strategies for business enterprises. Alan also serves on President Kim Clark’s BYU-Idaho Advancement council. (President Clark lead the Harvard Business School programs for 30 years prior to joining BYU-idaho. As a specialist in income tax, Alan frequently lectures and writes articles about tax issues for professional organizations and community groups. He also teaches accounting as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ohlone College.

Posted in