Donald Trump’s architect, “Trump Almost Destroyed My Business, But That Doesn’t Mean We Can’t Get Coffee”
Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump spared on economic policy, race relations, foreign trade and climate change. At one point Hilary Clinton called out Trump’s reputation as a horrible client to architects, designers, and craftsmen. Clinton added that she met a lot of people who were stiffed by Trump and his business, this is because Trump refused to pay when they finished the work he asked them to do.
One of these people is Andrew Tesoro, who designed one of the club houses of Trump in 2002. This was a prestigious project that could transform Tesoro’s small business. After Trump’s incredibly positive response to Tesoro’s work throughout the project, trouble began when Trump cheated his five-person architecture firm out of thousands of dollars. In an interview with Forbes, Tesoro said, “Although I resent that he shorted me a huge amount of money, his organization does that to everybody. At the time I could see that the carpenters, the tile guy, the landscape consultant, the mechanical engineering consultant, other vendors and tradespeople were all subjected to an after-the-fact renegotiation challenge. I didn’t take it personally. And I believed Donald Trump when he showered me with compliments. Maybe that was his way of manipulating me into accepting less money.… I don’t feel that I had a lot of choices, but to accept their lo-ball offer”.
When Trump refused to pay the second, lower bill, the tension was cranked up further still. The executive vice president of the Trump Organization asked Tesoro to go to the clubhouse, that there were many other vendors and professionals there, that they were having a negotiation session with Trump. Tesoro went to meet Trump in person, seeking both an explanation and a resolution to this grave situation. Trump’s defiance was as firm as it was predictable. “I really don’t think I should pay any more, because I spent too much on this building”, declared the famous businessman, offering to pay just half of the revised bill – less than 20 percent of the original sum billed for.
Tesoro was told in no uncertain terms that he would be rendered helpless if he proceeded. So, he absorbed the losses, which nearly bankrupted his small business and forced him to use savings that were intended for his son’s college tuition to keep the firm holding. He was asked by the Forbes interviewer if he had heard rumors that Trump didn’t pay architects what they deserved, yet his answer was “I had heard a little bit, some rumors, that he was not particularly known for paying people at the end of a job. But I know I’m not greedy. I thought if other people got shorted, it was because they asked too much. He kept telling me what a great architect I was and how the clubhouse was going to get me wonderful projects and front page publicity in all the most important journals. That’s part of his charismatic style.”
Tesoro feels very strongly that he is not well-suited to the job of president of the United States. Because he is impatient, he has a huge ego, and he has this infatuation with money. He measures everything in terms of money. Tesoro said that he was entitled to approximately $140,000 for all of the work that he hadn’t yet been paid for. That included things like $80,000 in additional architectural services that were directed, approved and implemented with Trump’s blessing. “I was startled at the bullying. These guys ganged up on me and basically said, there were cost overruns. They said, we’ll give you $50,000. Their message to me was take it or leave it. I was stunned. I left and made a bill for $50,000 and sent it. It wasn’t paid. I met with Mr. Trump. He said, you’re a nice guy, you’re a good architect, I’ll give you half of that $50,000. I walked away with $25,000.”, Tesoro added.
“We didn’t even collect enough to fully compensate all of our consultants. We had to go back and ask them to take less. I had to divvy up the $25,000. I only kept a small amount. We had to dig into credit lines just to keep the ship afloat. I’m a sole proprietor so we siphoned off much of my savings. Then the recession hit. We were just getting back on our feet from the Trump punch in the stomach and a lot of other work fell away. We got really close to folding. There were two years when my income was zero.”
Finally, Tesoro commented that he does not hate Mr. Trump, “I do not equate Trump’s charisma with respect and integrity. I do not hate Mr. Trump – that is accurate – but not because I condone the games that he plays in business … I did ask to review and approve the Forbes presentation but was only provided with a few factual snippets”.
Video via CNN