SPOTLIGHT ON: Irving Rohinsky
Mary Prenon | January 15, 2021
Still Going Strong at 92
At 92, Irving Rohinsky, president and co-founder of The World Realty Group in Suffern, has no plans to retire any time soon. In fact, he started his real estate career at 65, the age a lot of people have set as their retirement point. “I just love what I do, and I’m having too much fun to retire,” admitted Rohinsky.
With his strength in commercial and industrial real estate, Rohinsky has taken on major projects including the development and ownership of the first privately-owned office and retail center in Downtown New Haven, CT, as well as a 500,000-square-foot industrial complex in Branford CT and a shopping center in St. Petersburg, FL, known as the Azalea shopping center. He has also built multiple single-family homes and rehabilitated several mixed-use and multi-family properties.
Always an entrepreneur, Rohinsky launched his own real estate business soon after earning his license. Because of his history of buying and selling properties, he was able to pass the real estate test without even reading the book! “I’ve been in business a really long time,” he noted, “and I’ve always run an honest business. I like people and if you treat them nice, they’ll treat you nice.”
His very first business, at the age of nine, was a newspaper stand in New Haven, CT, where he worked with a friend after school selling the former New York Sun. “We’d go out every day and sell those papers, and we’d even hit the theaters before the evening shows,” he recalled. “We use to say, ‘the Sun is out at night.’” Sometimes, if they were having a slow day selling newspapers, Rohinsky and his friend would use a little creative marketing. “We’d yell things like, ‘Hilter Drowns in a Rowboat,’ and people would come rushing to buy the papers!”
One of his biggest thrills was selling a newspaper to Gene Autry, the “Singing Cowboy,” when he was staying at the Taft Hotel in New Haven. “I remember running into the hotel, handing him a paper and getting 10 cents,” said Rohinsky.
Growing up in New Haven, Rohinsky reminisces about being “spoiled” by his four sisters. His father was a plumber and they lived a modest lifestyle. “People didn’t have a lot of money, but nobody went hungry,” he said. “People used to leave their doors unlocked too—even at night—and there was never any trouble.”
While he was never one to break the law, one time Rohinsky and his friends decided to climb a neighbor’s cherry tree and help themselves to some cherries. The next thing he saw was a police officer looking up at them. “He took us in the police car down to the station, and we were so small we couldn’t even reach the counter,” he laughed. “The police did let us go and didn’t tell our parents, so I guess we got off pretty easy.”
After graduating with honors from the University of New Haven, Rohinsky started his own plumbing business when he was just 24 years old. World Plumbing and Heating Co. served the residents of Connecticut for 14 years, and had a staff of 20 plumbers. “I always worked very hard to make a success of my life and I wanted to give my family what I didn’t have.”
Rohinsky first saw his wife, Joan, at a party following a basketball game, when he was playing on the team. Their eyes met but they were never formally introduced. Sometime later, he saw her again at a local hangout called Sloppy Joe’s. “After that, it was destiny, although I did tell her she shouldn’t marry me because I was too spoiled,” he quipped. The couple enjoyed a 40-year marriage with children and grandchildren, until she passed away in 1990.
Following his wife’s passing, he didn’t leave the house to go out for almost a year. His business partner then tried fixing him up with some widowed women, but nothing clicked. However, a call from his younger sister a year later would change his life. She met a woman who was widowed at a wedding and had given Rohinsky her phone number, but he never called. “One night my sister called and told me I had to call this woman now,” he said. “It was 11 p.m., so I called and said the most stupid thing—I asked her what she looked like! His question apparently didn’t bother her because Rohinsky and Eudice have now been married for 27 years.
Currently a resident of Monsey, Rohinsky eventually sold the plumbing business and has been in real estate for more than 25 years. He now partners with his grandson Chaim Cillo, who heads up the company’s Hillside, NJ office. “When my grandson first joined me, I asked him why he wanted to work with an old guy like me,” he joked. “From that time on, it’s never been a better combination.”
The two have built up the business and now have three offices—one in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The biggest change he’s experienced over the years is the technology. “It’s good and it’s bad—you have to be so careful about protecting your business,” said Rohinsky.
These days, Rohinsky often works at his home office, which is filled with photos of his children and grandchildren. “I have so many grandkids, I stopped counting,” he said. Some of them are now living in Israel, and he plans to make a trip there when COVID is finally over. Another grandson owns a bagel store in Detroit, the only one in the community, and it’s quite successful. “I plan to go there as well,” he added. “It’s a long trip for a bagel, but I’ll see my grandson too.”
During the pandemic, Rohinsky also made a vow not to evict any tenants who can’t pay their rent. “I’m 92 and have never evicted anyone,” he said. Also, once the virus is over, he plans to return to a gym, and has recently hired a nutritionist.
Throughout the years, Rohinsky has always been active in his local community, serving on the boards of the New Haven Jewish Community Center, the New Haven Hebrew Day School, the Westville Synagogue in New Haven, the Congregation Bais Torah in Monsey, and many others.
The best advice he has for life is to marry someone who is kind, and to never use the word “problem.” There are no problems, he said, only issues to resolve. And for someone at any age beginning a real estate career, Rohinsky said there are three important things to do: be an early riser, have a competitive nature, and talk to God for inner strength. “You can do anything you want to if you put your time and effort into it,” he said.