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Inspiring Conversations with James Darby

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Darby.

James, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My father, Arthur M Darby Born and raised in Jacksonville Florida, was an Air Force Mechanic who went to the Vietnam war. He later went into Real Estate and eventually became a real estate broker. He has over 40 years in the industry. My mother was born in Piura, Peru and she was a freestyle swimming champion of Peru and South America. She later went into building her own brand of clothing and her designs sold all over Peru. I remember her retail owner clients will call her by name and she always had a connection with every client. She is now a Real estate agent, and we work together as a team. My grandfather was a pilot and a business owner. He made an empire in the north of Peru and treated every employee as if it was his best friend. His stories are amazing, he even built the first movie theater for his staff in the north of Peru back in the year 1945-1968. A communist president took power and later took everything from my grandfather (Manolo, El mono Canepa).

I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and moved to Lima, Peru close to my 7th birthday. I had to learn Spanish and adapt to a new culture. My mom was always working, and I spent my years playing soccer outside, riding BMX bikes, and what I loved the most, Surfing.

I would literally go surfing everyday after school. I would ride a bus to get to the closest beach (1 hour) I would go down a cliff just like the one we have here in San Diego (Blacks Beach) and surf for a few hours. Most of the time, I would go by myself. I enjoyed being by myself since my early years in Villa, a small town in the south of Peru. I had to walk a few miles to catch the bus to get to school or my grandparent’s house. I loved the walk, houses were spread out and there was big fields of just land and palm trees.

At 18, I left Peru and traveled to Florida, following my dad’s advice to join the military. My English was bad at this point. But after a year back in the States, I passed my ASVAB test with over 80% and I was able to choose the city where I wanted to do my military schooling.

I chose San Diego, California because I knew there would be good waves there. While in boot camp, I was always second place on all the physical activity. The guy who always came in first wanted to be a navy seal. Later in life, my work experience included working at McDonald’s, Rite Aid, and restaurants like the Brigantine, Del Mar Cab, and Joe’s Crab Shack. After attending Mira Costa college, I landed a full-time job at a law firm. I had benefits and learned a lot in that position. Finally, I decided to make the leap of faith into sales (commission only). Shortly after the mortgage crisis hit in 2007-2008. I was helping homeowners keep their homes for a fee at a company Pacific West Financial.

The owner, a New York Italian with some good sales skills, taught me the basics and it turns out, I was good too. I learned how to manage a business and improved my sales skills. In late 2008, I went to Costa Rica on a surf trip. I was meeting my cousin from Peru. We surfed for a week and headed to Nicaragua. On our way, we were ambushed there at gunpoint by some local thieves in a vehicle.

I was driving and they asked me to get out of my vehicle in the middle of nowhere. I stepped out and with a gun pointed on my face, I started pretending to have a nervous breakdown (what’s going on, what’s going on I screamed) The guy pointing at my face turned to point at my feet. I immediately ran and made a jump over barbed wire, landed Rambo style and started running in zig-zag motion into a jungle. I thought I was going to get shot, but somehow I made it to a point where I was able to hide in the bushes.

I heard them looking for me but eventually they all left and took my cousin and a girl we had recently met who was in our car as well. I felt as if I was never going to see my cousin again. It was the worst feeling, I started running towards what I thought the beach POPOYO was. 40 minutes later, I got there and asked for help. Long story short, my cousin and the girl were left alone close by. The thieves or kidnappers thought I had already called the police and didn’t want to take their chances.

Once I returned to the USA, I decided to open my own company and really help homeowners. I partnered with a real estate broker friend and opened USA Financial Consultants. He gave me $5,000 and left for a vacation he had planned. He trusted me as he saw my plan and believed in it. He helped me incorporate the company through an online service from his vacation. I was on the hunt for an office and found that my old law firm employer had space available in their building. I rented an 18 cubicle, five offices, and a conference room office. I went and got college books and placed them in every cubicle to make us look like we were bigger than we were at that time. I purchased a printer, scanner, fax machine and with only $1,000 left, I purchased a segment on the radio to advertise my services to help homeowners save their homes. I advertised that we did not charge until we successfully helped to save their home.

We made a Million dollars gross the first year and we had a full office by the second year. I implemented my insurance business and we rocked till this day. USAFC has been open for over ten years now and I am lucky to have an amazing staff of Realtors, Loan officers, managers, and customer service operators dedicated to help homeowners achieve their goals and dreams by buying, selling, or refinancing their homes.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I started with nothing…a partner gave me $5,000 to start the business. And, yes we had a great year, even that first year, but it was due to hard work and putting our customers first.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We’re a mortgage broker and group of real estate agents who help people find and finance their dream homes every day.

We love what we do and have worked very hard to build a team that serves all of our customers well, going above and beyond for each one.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
Don’t give up. You have to keep going and keep striving to the next goal.

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