First they made the desert bloom. Now they want tomake it pay eight-to-one in the fifth. Kibbutz Orim in the northernNegev desert has announced plans to build the first racecourse inmodern Israel. The kibbutz now farms flowers, paprika, wheat andcorn, and manufactures high quality bedding and linen. But beginningeight years ago, kibbutz member Shateike Shelef began a pilotbreeding program for thoroughbreds, and produced some of the finesthorses in the country.
Now Orim is readying the next step: a flat,mile-and-a-half horseshoe-shaped track bordered by hay bails, withrunning rails for the last furlong. The track, set to open inOctober, will initially be "gambling-free," according to a report inthe Daily Racing Form. But for the first time in Israel's history,the races will be recognized by the International Racing Committeeand listed in the International Form Book.
There's every reason to suspect racing will takeoff in a country that loves its lottery. If it doesn't, Shelef has aPlan B. He wants to use the kibbutzniks' experience and Israel's warmweather to provide over-wintering facilities for Europeanthoroughbreds at half the rates the British farms charge. Let therace begin. -- Staff Report
The King of Valet Parking
As you readthis, Daniel Ziv is celebrating his 35th birthday in Israel.
He has every right to celebrate. While manyentrepreneurs his age are just beginning to achieve their goals, Zivhas his career in full stride. When Ziv founded Z Valet and ShuttleService at the tender age of 18, he was already a pro in the valetparking industry, having run a special-events parking company withseveral high school buddies.
Today, Ziv runs the most successful special-eventsvalet parking company in the country, dispatching his gray-vestedarmies to movie premières, museum openings, exclusive partiesand other high society functions.
Born in Seattle, Ziv grew up in a family awash inacademic accomplishments. His mother is a teacher, and his fatherworks as a top aeronautics scientist at the Technion in Israel. Zivspent much of his childhood shuttling back and forth between LosAngeles and Haifa.
By age 13, Ziv started working a string of oddjobs, including running errands for Danny Kaye, Gregory Peck andCharlton Heston. He gradually developed the business chops thatlanded him into partnership while still attending Beverly Hills HighSchool.
Around the time most teens start learning todrive, Ziv was already buying out his partners and going solo in thevalet parking industry. In fact, Z Valet's first official assignmentwas the 1984 Olympics.
Z Valet andShuttle Service now employs more than 600 valets, and it books -- onaverage -- around 40 events a week. The company also has asubdivision, called Z Parking, that services many restaurants andmuseums in town. In fact, his valets are so ubiquitous, Ziv has oftenarrived at a function to find his own employees waiting to park hisvehicle.
Up Front recently spoke to Ziv as he prepared toleave for Paris, where he'll attend the World Cup soccerchampionship.
CAREER DETOUR: "Iwas on my own as far as my financial dealings. My father wanted me tobe a scientist like him, but I resisted. Of course, my parents wereproud when I made it."
THE NEED TO SUCCEED:"Without a formal business education, I went through a lot of trialand error...and ran my business based on pure guts and common sense.My craving and desire to succeed kept me going. There were manypoints where I could have easily given up, but I learned that when Imade it through, things got better."
WALKING THROUGH A MIND FIELD: "I'm currently enrolled as a full-time student in UCLA. I'mmajoring in history, with a minor in anthropology. It's [importantto] enrich the soul, the inner self.... This summer, I'm going tostudy political science in Amsterdam and Paris."
EDUCATION IS THE EDGE: "[My schooling] ties into my business by getting to knowthe background of people I work with -- their culture, theirreligion.... You cannot help but apply this information."
VACATION-A-GO-GO: "Igo back again and again to Mexico because of the proximity. But Ilove Europe, Paris. I consider Israel as a second home. I've been toMorocco several times."
BUSINESS INNOVATIONS: "We started the 'no gratuity' policy, where the hostcovers the gratuity instead of the individual guests tipping. We also[reformed] communications, using walkie-talkies."
JURASSIC PARKING:"Some of the biggest events we've done include Elizabeth Taylor'sparty, Michael Jackson's Neverland."
THE BIGGEST TIP:"One employee received $500 from a Saudi Arabian prince."
ZIV. DANNY ZIV: "IfI had to park them myself, I would get behind the wheel of theJaguars and Mercedes, an Astin Martin."
YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE DRIVE TO SUCCEED IN THISBUSINESS: "Never give up -- no matter howdown or low you are. Persistence and tenacity are two of the mostimportant ingredients. Just like there are bad times, there'll begood times. Also important to my success is giving back to thecommunity. Always make sure it's a two-way street, that you're notjust taking, taking, taking."
EVER GO TO CAR SHOWS? "I'm not really a car enthusiast." -- Michael Aushenker,Community Editor