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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.