[Update - February 14, 2013 at 9:35 AM ET] Mark Balelo was found dead on February 11, 2013, he was 40 years old. I actually received an email from Mark the morning of January 17, 2013 concerning an interview that we contacted him about in the past. I was supposed to call Mark to discuss something big he apparently had in the works. Here is an excerpt of the last email he sent me:
give some highlights in upcoming events as well as clear some of the rumors out there. I think will be good for us to talk off record first just because I have some great material for you guys in few months. It will be huge and I want you guys be ready for it...
I never found out what his big news was. RIP Mark.
More Latin Americans have been finding their way onto reality television. The latest is Portugal-born Brazilian Mark Balelo. Here's his self-written bio:
I was born in Madeira Island, Portugal, but lived in Brazil from the age of 3 to the age of 14. Balelo's origin is from Italy and during the Italian war, many of my ancestors left to go to the Madeira Islands, Portugal which is located in the Atlantic Ocean near the Canary Islands, Spain and not that far away from the African Country of Morocco.
The Italian last name was originally spelled as Ballelo with two L's. However, my great-great grand father changed to Balelo with one L. We still don't know if it was a mistake during registry in his birth certificate or if it was done intentionally. Who knows, he was probably involved in the Mafia like some other ancestors and family member.
Most of the family came from Madeira Islands, Portugal to the U.S. They set sail in San Diego back in the mid 1800's. The families brought the coulture, foods and traditions of Portugal. They settle in a place known as Point Loma, CA. Point Loma is located in the coast of San Diego county where many of the residents speaks Portuguese.
The family was brought up in the Roman Catholic religion and St. Agnes church in Point Loma have masses in Portuguese and English. There are streets written in Portuguese and it is common to hear Portuguese while traveling the streets of Point Loma.
The Balelo's are also one of the first pioneers in the Tuna fishing industry. Many of the Tuna fishing boats used to be docked at the San Diego Pier near downtown San Diego and across from San Diego International Airport. Many members of my family worked for fishing boats or fishing canneries in San Diego and San Pedro. The fishing canneries were Starkist Tuna and Chicken of the Sea. Eventually the canneries were closed and thereafter most of the fishing caught by American Tuna Boats fishing out of San Diego were unloaded at Star Kist Tuna located in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
A family owned Tuna Boat that many of my dad's immediate family members worked including my grandfather Joe Balelo was M/V Claudia B, which was owned by my uncle John Balelo and his wife Claudia Balelo. The tradition carried on and I was the last family member to carry on that tradition between father and son to work in Tuna Boats.
I started when I was 14 years old. Very hard work and extremely dangerous job that was ended after 4 years when I decided to come to the U.S.and go to school. I was the first the brake way from that hard life after seeing the family sacrifices made by my dad. He worked every 2 years or more before he went home to see his family and that only lasted for a week or two. Not the life I wanted to live and therefore I came to live and work towards my American Dream.
I lived in San Diego for few months until I adventured myself alone to explore a beautiful place known as Orange County, CA. Upon arrival, I met some great people that went to school there and allowed me to stay in their apartment until I found a place to stay.
Quickly I had friends, a place to stay and a job. It didn't take long for me to find Newport Beach, CA. a place that I called home and stepping grounds. Newport Beach is the location that I lived the longest since arriving in the U.S. as an immigrant.
I quickly enrolled myself originally as an International Student at Orange Coast College. Until I became a Permanent Resident in U.S. I had to pay Out-of-State fees which then it was a $113 a unit.
My first job was valet parking cars and not long after I started, I opened my own valet parking business. I quickly got many accounts and made enough money to support my college education. Thereafter, I got into the Automotive Industry where I stayed for 17 years.
Upon graduating Orange Coast College, I start going to U.S.C. My degrees are in Business Administration and International Business. I was a 3.89 GPA average student and worked really hard to put myself through school. The car business was a school of its own with life lessons that can never be taught at any school. I was one of the first people to be involved with e-Commerce in automotive industry serving as a Internet Sales Manager for Nissan and advisory board member of Cars.com and the Cobalt Group. I sold many cars and created a name for myself leading the national rank for Nissan with the Autonation Group.
I was offered an opportunity to work at Brown and Brown Nissan in Tempe, AZ. which I eventually accepted and start a life new in Scottsdale, AZ. With popularity in rankings, offers from other dealership were inevitable and quickly I move up to Internet and Fleet Management positions at other dealerships. I served Nissan, Honda, Cadillac, GMC, Pontiac, Buick, Ford and eventually Mercedes-Benz. Ironically, the manager that got me to move from California to Arizona originally from Brown & Brown Nissan was also responsible in moving me back to California as a Director of Bunnin Buick Pontiac GMC and eventually Cadillac and Cars 101 in Oxnard, CA.
I moved from Scottsdale to Camarillo and eventually ended up leaving in Hollywood Hills working for Keyes Europen Mercedes-Benz in Van Nuys and then at Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills. I have the sales records for both of those stores.
At Keyes, I had an individual sales performance of 68.5 cars in one month. I was in a different league working for Mercedes-Benz with monthly pay checks close to some of my yearly paychecks from the past. I was the leading eCommerce Director in the U.S. for many brands and ultimately with Mercedes-Benz at Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills under Group 1 Automotive.
I then decided to open my own highline dealership and brokerage firm. With economical changes and the fall of the housing market, the Automotive Industry follow the same trend and in 2008 I got out of the Automotive Business and start selling things on Ebay from home.
It started as a hobby and quickly turned into an empire. I was always looking for deals and clearance items then start buying liquidations, customer returns and closeouts. I grew tremendously fast with over $1,000,000 in sales in the first six months of opening the new business. It quickly grew to what is today Balelo, Inc. and its companies and divisions.
Balelo, Inc. now employs over 50 people with several locations including a gaming store called The Game Exchange. Balelo, Inc. is involved with auctions, liquidations, refurbishing and repair, manufacturing, wholesale, retail, closeouts and distribution.
Our main warehouse is located at 4486 Runway St. in Simi Valley, CA 93063. About a year or so ago, I start buying storage units at auctions. Currently, my staff and I buys an average of over 100 storage units per week. I have been extremely successful and enjoy this business. I have participated on A&E's reality TV show Storage Wars. I been feature in some episodes and will continue to participate in future episodes from time to time.
I have recently opened my Auction Company and became a licensed auctioneer to conduct auctions to sell the bulk of the merchandise acquired from storage units. Balelo Auctions had its first auction on July 31, 2011. It was my official debut as a professional auctioneer learning direct from one of the best auctioneers, Mr. Dan Dotson with American Auctioneers.