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Felix Sabates, Jr.
Chairman of the Board

Ever since he was a young boy in Cuba, Felix S. Sabates, Jr., Chairman of Trinity Yachts, LLC., was dreaming of opportunities that awaited him in the United States. His relentless desire to fulfill those dreams has made Sabates one of the most affluent, respected and recognized businessmen in America.

At age 16, Sabates fled Fidel Castro's Cuba for the United States. Upon his arrival in Miami, Florida in 1959, Sabates possessed only a few dollars, two boxes of cigars and little knowledge of the English language.

After reaching the "land of freedom" Sabates lived for a short time with an aunt and uncle in Boston, Mass. and began his days washing dishes, sweeping floors and performing other odd jobs. In 1964, the Catholic Church was instrumental in his relocation to North Carolina since it brought the rest of his family to this state from Cuba.

Sabates then invested his time in another source of employment - washing and parking cars at the Charlotte Airport, which led to a position as a car salesman at City Chevrolet. His talent for sales surfaced during this time, and in 1967 Sabates was hired by a Charlotte-based manufacturer's representative company called Top Sales Company, Inc., which sold such items as inexpensive transistor radios and hair dryers to major retail outlets. From there his talents as a salesman and an eye for exceptional product lines continued to grow and mature.

Sabates' potential in business-plan design and implementation became apparent immediately. In 1974, the father of three purchased Top Sales, Inc., where he currently serves as owner, Chairman and CEO. With the purchase of the small company, Sabates was able to recognize various product as having "guaranteed" propensity for future success and instructed the company to carry them for distribution.

Two product lines that served as a springboard were Teddy Ruxpin (Talking Teddy Bear) and Atari video game, Pong. Each of the products proved to be a recreational force among the youth of the 1980s and exceeded all sales figures projected at that time.

Due to the distribution and careful marketing of select products, Top Sales Company began to expand dramatically in the 1980s. The operation currently has six branches serving the Southeast, Mid Atlantic and South Central United States, and boasts more than $500 million in sales. The products affiliated with Top Sales are currently distributed through several prominent, national retailers such as Circuit City, 7-11, Radio Shack, Office Depot, Lowe's and Eckerd Drugs.

Sabates' arsenal of possessions, however, does not end with Top Sales. He also captains Victory Lane Enterprises as the owner and President. Victory Lane is part of Charlotte-based American Show Boats Company, which designs and sells mega motoryachts in conjunction with Trinity Yachts, LLC. The vessels Sabates' company produces range from 100 to 222 feet in length, bow to stern, and have a worldwide reputation as some of the most luxurious and easily maneuvered boats on the water.

In the 1980s, Sabates established himself in another area of the business world - professional sports. In 1987, he joined the NASCAR motorsports elite with his purchase of a research and development team from a popular Charlotte businessman, Rick Hendrick. It was here that Team SABCO was actually born; now one of the most visible and respected of all Winston Cup teams.

Sabates has spread his influence across other sports, as well. After starting the first professional indoor soccer team in the 1980s, the grandfather of six was one of the first investors in the World Football League. In 1988, Sabates became one of the original, partial owners of the local NBA franchise, the Charlotte Hornets, before selling his interest in 1991. Also in the early 1990s, he established the Charlotte Professional Sports Team, Inc., which brought the professional East Coast Hockey League to Charlotte. An eventual champion was then created in 1996, when Sabates' Charlotte Checkers won the Jack Riley Cup after competing in the ECHL for just three years. The Checkers were sold shortly after their championship season at a then-record price for a minor-league professional franchise.

In addition to his interests in athletics and other businesses, Sabates also focuses much attention on civic activities. He serves on the Board of Directors for Carolinas Health Care Systems, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the Windmere Corporation, and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, to mention a few.

Sabates is also well know for his many philanthropic contributions and has received several honors and awards for his generosity. Belmont Abbey has named its dining hall after him, Elon College bestowed upon him and Honorary Doctors' Degree, and he received a "Special Blessing" in writing from the Pope. Additionally, Sabates and his wife recently became members of the philanthropic Dream Makes Society of the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County, Fla., in recognition of their 11-year commitment to and support of special fund raising events. In their honor, the Felix and Carolyn Sabates Athletic Center will be dedicated in Fort Lauderdale in early 2000.

Sabates is divorced, has three children and six grandchildren. Not only does Felix Sabates enjoy his various business ventures and community involvement, he also enjoys his family and the joy it brings to his life.
 

 
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