John: I’m finding that so many readers of Model Citizens and Long Island Journal are on a kind of on a fitness kick. I guess because there is nothing else to do. As a result, the issues are becoming fitness issues, fitness models, and things like that. I am happy to have your story, about you and your team, in Model Citizens because it’s new and exciting.
I think your story is exciting by the way for everyone who’s going to be reading about it. Just so you know, I almost always put athletes to the test the first time I photograph them and I have to tell you that you really pass that test 1,000%. The way you rode your bike on ice and through two feet of snow in 30° weather.
Scott: This is nice of you to say and you did have me in that spandex. I was cold!
John: I was freezing, and you even took a fall. For all of those that don’t know who you are and are getting to know you through these interviews, you are a brave soul. You took a dive off of that bike on the ice, I couldn’t believe it! Can you tell me about your team?
Scott: I really appreciate the compliments. So, to answer your question about the team, it’s really a fun kind of passion project for me. We spoke earlier about my background in the triathlons and I kind of played around with it for a while.
John: Some people may be reading about you for the first time because Model Citizens Magazine has a lot of different readers and then the Long Island Journal, can you give us a little bit of background on you?
Scott: Absolutely, I started out earlier on in my sports career as a swimmer. I swam through high school and a little bit in college and tried my first triathlon before I graduated. I was barely finished the first time around but really caught the bug and got into it. I stuck with it and tried and tried again. I progressed to some longer races, like the half iron man, over the course of four or five years. Then I decided it was time for me to get some coaching to see if I could really progress to the next level. I joined with a team and a coach by the name of Jose Lopez. The team is called Long Island Tri Coach, with the acronym LITC. Jose trained me in a very short time to be at a higher competitive level. Then it got fun when I started traveling around the country for a bunch of races on the West Coast, in Vermont and Maine, and then down in Florida and in the islands for a couple of cool events. At that point, I was getting very good at it.
John: What kind of distances were you doing?
Scott: Mainly Olympic at that point, that’s where I was most competitive. For those who don’t know, it’s a one-mile swim, followed by a 26-mile bike ride and then a 10K run, which is 6.2-miles. That is a short enough distance where you’re really racing fast. It’s not a long-distance event where are you slowing it down and more concerned about getting to the finish line.
John: Oh. That’s a sprint even though the bike portion is long, and 6.2 miles is good decent distance.
Scott: I was doing that race in a little over two hours, and that was super competitive. I was finishing on the podium at local races and I was gaining some name recognition out there which was fun.
John: The local races are still very competitive.
Scott: Yes, they are. But that was in my early to mid-30s and now I’m in my 40s, so I’m slowing down. I started looking for other interesting stuff. I did some long-distance swimming and some longer triathlons, and then I got into the half Iron Man distance. Those are races that, when I was at my peak, I was finishing in a little under five hours. With some of the longer races, I started to get into some alternative types like the ones that include a lot of stages. First, I did one called SOS up in New Paltz, New York which was an eight-stage triathlon. Then I went to Maine and did one that was 18 stages.
John: Talk to us about the stages. What are the stages like?
Scott: Those are really a combination of swimming and running. For instance, the SOS is a great race. First, you bike for 30 and then there is no more biking for the rest of the race. It’s a point to point. From there you leave your bike with a Sherpa and then it’s seven stages of running and swimming. You run 5, swim 1 mile, run 5, swim a mile, then you run eight and swim a half-mile. Then the last is a mile climb up to the finish which is by the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz. Up in Maine, it was more of an intense version of the same but a little bit longer and more intense and I race that one with a partner.
So, I did get into some different stuff, but now I was offered an opportunity to sponsor the team. What that really means is we’ve got a group of about eight or ten younger guys in their 20s and 30s who have a lot of hope of becoming professional, maybe even Olympic hopefuls. They are really good triathletes who compete at a much higher level than I ever did. Some of them are on the pro-circuit and some of them are itching to get on the pro-circuit. They do all of the local races and are top finishers at the regionals. The name of the team also has the LITC acronym and so now they’re wearing the EB logo. The kit that you photographed me in is the team’s outfit. We are sponsoring them to train and race and we have assembled an amazing team. It’s an exciting project for me to get to know them. They are all great people. A lot of them, I hate to call them kids, but some of them are half my age.
John: Oh, I get that.
Scott: Oh, and they are great, one of them is in the military. We have one guy who is a paraplegic and is training for a triathlon. We have had some of those on the team in the past. It’s a really amazing endeavor and the journey these guys go on.
John: Are you helping coach the team?
Scott: No, I’m not coaching, just sponsoring.
John: Do you get to go out there with them and play a little bit?
Scott: Yes, I’ll train with them and play with them and even race with them, for sure that is part of the fun for me. But really, it’s a pay-it-forward thing for me personally and it really aligns perfectly with my company‘s mission and vision. It’s a great thing for us to do as an organization.
John: How many races will they have this year?
Scott: Good question. I think the first one is to go and win that SOS race I told you about earlier. That race is supposedly happening. They’ve had a couple of races so far and are doing them in a very careful way with Covid. There was a race down in Daytona, Florida one of our team members participated in. It was a big pro circuit race. They are definitely going to do Nationals. One of the guys on the team wants to race as a professional at the X General World Championship, which is an off-road triathlon. I think the doors will open soon and a lot of the events will go forward. Hopefully, the team has a real presence at a lot of these big events. That is the hope and our goal.
John: Now, you’ve talked about your company Engel Burman. I think most people that live on Long Island know about the Bristol and what you do, but for those who may not, can you share a little bit about what you do in your day job?
Scott: Sure. We are a vertically integrated real estate company. We do real estate development, construction, and we manage a significant portion of our portfolio. We also handle sales and marketing and really manage the whole lifecycle of our product projects from start to finish. We play in a lot of different areas; first in the commercial space like an office, industrial and retail. We’ve worked with a lot of credit tenants like FedEx, Lifetime Fitness Centers, Lowe’s Home Improvement Center. We have a significant commercial portfolio and then we have two other focuses in the residential space where we do a lot of home building and a combination of “for rent” and “for sale” products. Some of them are suburban sprawl and what we call horizontal development and then we also get involved in more vertical development or midrise with buildings that are 7 to 10 stories. There’s also a focus on the senior housing sector. We build independent living, assisted living, and memory care properties, Our flagship brand is the Bristol Assisted-Living which is a high-end private pay model. Right now, we have 24 operating properties across New York and New Jersey with about 4000 elderly residents living in those properties with about 2,400 employees in that business.
Most recently we’ve entered into the drug addiction research and rehabilitation space with a project called Wellbridge. We are partnering with Northwell Health and we opened the doors this past year. It is a revolutionary project that should change the way we treat addiction patients in this country and that is super exciting for us.
John: Well, mental health and addiction treatment is a serious area that I think it’s just starting to be looked at in the right way. I have a friend who is also a Model Citizen, her mother disappeared 24 years ago and she is just finding out the details now, 24 years later.
Scott: You hear those stories all the time and you hit it on the head when you said we are just figuring out how to treat this the right way. For so many years addiction was treated like a moral failing, but it’s not, it is a disease. We now know that it affects people’s brains and can measure the effects of the brain and adjust the treatment accordingly. It’s really what differentiates us from the rest of the companies in the addiction space.
John: I look forward to hearing more about that in future issues. Thank you for sharing your team with us and for sharing a little bit about your career. Congratulations again on being nominated as a Model Citizen, you’re certainly well-deserving.
Scott: Thank you, John. It’s a pleasure.
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