In a stunning development, Alberto Candolini of A&M Geckos has recently decided to sell the leopard gecko part of his business. Alberto agreed to speak to Gecko Time about his decision and his plans for the future.
What has A&M reptiles been up to for the past few years?
Well, for the past few years one of the main goals of A&M has been to combine all the genetics in leopard geckos making a lot of new combination morphs, a lot of work and a lot of animals to produce to lock in those genetic combinations. It was worth it. It is a great feeling when you hatch that 1 gecko where you only have a scientific chance of producing 1 out of 128.
We have recently heard that A&M reptiles will be up for sale. What has led to that decision?
Well the bad economy of course is taking a toll also in my family. Not much to do with A&M itself, we are still in good shape with sales as I deal a lot with exports to Asia and Europe and the economy is not as bad overseas.
The main problem is with my wife losing a very profitable job that offered also all the benefits, so we are having a very hard time making the monthly payments for our mortgage and family insurance now to add to the pile of bills. With this happening, the decision to sell A&M is a hard one but I hope to be able to refinance my house so I can take those low mortgage rates being offered right now to bring my mortgage to a lower payment to be able to afford it with the amount of salary we are bringing in right now.
How do you imagine continuing your involvement with reptiles in the near future?
I am only selling the leopard gecko business, so my involvement with reptiles will still be strong with my other rare geckos species which I will not part with right now. So my involvement with reptiles will not stop at all.
How can the gecko community support you in this time of transition for you?
I do not see what the gecko community can do to change this drop in the economy so the best thing people can do to help is to continue buying my geckos, LOL, as they have been for the past 10+ years. I think everyone is suffering from this one way or another so I think we can only wait and hope that things turn around soon for the best.
What advice do you have for reptile breeders in the current economy?
Well, some people are still making sales and moving a lot of animals. I guess the best thing to do is to produce less animals if you are not able to move or sell them so you can reduce the cost of maintaining the colonies. The best plan is to reduce the cost as much as possible right now and try to sit this situation out until things are back to normal. Some people, I am sure it is happening already, unfortunately will have to sell out. A lot of businesses, small and big, in all fronts are closing down. It’s a painful situation but that is how it is right now.
What is the biggest piece of advice you have for breeders looking to deal in the European market as well as the US?
Well, in my opinion, to be able to get in the European market the best way would be to try and work some shows in Europe. I have done that for many years, and it is the best way. People get to know you, trust you, and know the quality of your animals. If you offer good stuff they will be sure to come back for more. It’s not easy to do: a lot of money needs to be invested, starting from the import, export and all the custom costs, also traveling to Europe with no assurance of making a profit every time but if you are sure of the quality and price of your animals and willing to travel a bit it will sure open up a lot of new doors.
What are your long term goals and dreams?
Well, those change all the time due to circumstances. Right now my best dream would be to be able to keep my house and live with no economic worries but as my grandma always told me, the health is the main thing. So as long as we are healthy we can always rebuild.
Let’s say, if I was to win a big enough Lotto right now, the second thing I will do (of course first I will pay off my house, lol) is to travel to the locations of all the geckos I love the best, find them and study them in the wild. Since I love geckos pretty much from all continents this would be a very long trip, lol. After that I would build a big facility in NYC with all natural habitats set up for all the geckos I love, sort of like a big gecko zoo with the most rare and beautiful species in the world where people that are interested in geckos if they ever travel to NYC would be sure stop by, a must see facility. Yeah, I dream big or not at all, ehheeh.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your situation and your plans?
Well, I think I covered all the angles of the situation. The plan is first to stay healthy, then save the house, if I can, then I will move to the next one that comes to my mind.