Michael Bordes grew up in the Bronx in the 1960s, the son of a New York City firefighter who, with two side jobs, probably brought home about $15,000 a year to feed and clothe a family of six.
“My parents had no money,” the 58-year-old Bordes said. “Raising four children in the Bronx, living in a bungalow with six people, is hard.”
Today, Bordes, together with his son, owns and runs AA Jedson Company, LLC, a commercial and residential builder doing $20 million annually. (More on that name later.)
“I’m projecting to do $30 million to $50 million next year,” Bordes said. “We’ve already signed $20 million worth of work for next year. We got very lucky in the fitness and restaurant industry in New York.”
One of Bordes’ clients, Rumble, recently had him build a $7 million, five-story boxing gym in Manhattan.
Bordes’ story, rising from a bungalow in the Bronx to running a company he believes will someday gross $100 million in annual revenue, is remarkable, and irresistable.
“Nothing has ever been lucky for me,” Bordes said. “It’s always been related to getting up in the morning and pushing myself. It doesn’t relate to money. I don’t live a lifestyle like my story tells. I live a simple life in a simple house.”
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Bordes and his wife moved from the Bronx to Rye Brook, New York, to raise their son. The Bronx was rough when he was growing up, but it was far worse when Bordes was raising his son in the early 1990s.
In his own childhood, Bordes was a fighter.
“Children are rough,” Bordes says. “I grew up in a very rough environment. I became a very rough guy, a fighter type person, not one of those kids who wouldn’t defend himself.”
What did he fight over? Everything, including everything he wore.
“When I would see other kids wearing Pumas or Adidas sneakers, all my parents could afford were $3 Skippies,” Bordes said.
The clothes and the shoes Bordes wore were from Sears or Korvettes, meaning they were not fashionable, and therefore an invitation to relentless teasing. Teasing led to fighting.
One day, walking home from school, Bordes spotted an older kid shining shoes. Bordes went home to get his bike and followed the kid, undetected, to the Irish bars and Italian social clubs on his shoe-shining route.
On a Monday, he confronted the kid at his first stop, the Midget Bar.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m going to start shoe shining. You can’t shoe shine in these places any more,” Bordes remembered. “From that day forward, I fist fought with this kid four times, until he decided I could have the route. He started delivering newspapers.”
Using his homemade shoeshine box, Bordes started working his route of bars and social clubs. He had to shine the bartenders’ shoes and those of his family for free, receiving only a Coke in payment.
“I had about 20 Cokes a day when I was shining shoes,” Bordes said.
But the paying customers took a liking to the spunky kid from the neighborhood, and tipped generously.
“I was making good money, $20 or $30 a day,” Bordes said. “I was making more money than my father at 14.”
Bordes shined shoes every day for about two and a half years, saving up a few thousand dollars. But it was his next venture that would put him on the path to building the construction business he owns today.