But did you know that Max loves riding his Harley Davidson Heritage Deluxe motorcycle? Max said, “Growing up, I wanted to be like James Dean. He was my idol as a teenager. I wanted to ride a motorcycle like James Dean. Today, I’m probably one of the few Harley riders without a tattoo.”
(James Dean was an American movie actor who started in “Rebel Without a Cause,” and was known for riding motorcycles. Dean’s death in a car crash in 1955 cemented his legendary status. He became the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for best actor, and remains the only actor with two posthumous acting nominations.)
Max also is proud of his special designation from the U.S. Department of Justice. Max says he has been recognized as a “Person of Special Interest” by the U.S. Government’s Executive Office for Immigration Review for meritorious contribution to the national interests of the United States and for significant public or private endeavors. He said it is a designation given to immigrants who work as scientists, physicians and other highly skilled professionals. Max was recognized for creating a loan program to help small businesses. The program was funded by large banks; ironically, the same banks that typically would never be interested in loaning money to small businesses.
“It took me 12 years to acquire that designation, 12 years of a legal entanglement battle, it was a very challenging journey” said Max. “Initially, the government opposed me. They fought against me in lower courts. But, I appealed my case all the way to the 9th Circuit Court, which reversed the denial from a lower court. I wanted that designation because it affirmed to me that America is a country of opportunity. If you persevere, you can accomplish great things. You have to follow your dream and work hard. I still live by those values today.”
Max was born in Iran, grew up in Great Britain and arrived in the U.S. in 1980 at age 26. “My first eight years in America I spent opening and operating small businesses, including a restaurant, bar, print shop, dry cleaners and even a small community newspaper.”
For many years, he owned and operated about two dozen small businesses while developing the noteworthy micro business loan program and pursuing the special designation from the Justice Department. “I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life,” said Max. “I have a passion to create economic opportunities and help other people build a successful business for themselves.”
In 2000, he joined the Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP), a non-profit business organization that assists with the revitalization of Downtown San Diego. He oversaw implementation of San Diego’s first property-based business improvement district (PBID) while serving with DSPD. He also was involved in the initial development of Petco Park, which opened in 2004.
In 2003, he joined the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a San Diego non-profit that partners with neighborhoods for community change. As the Jacobs Center’s business development director, he was part of San Diego’s largest social enterprise designed to create jobs for local residents and serve as a destination business model. He was involved with the development of several office, retail and industrial properties, including Market Creek Plaza.
In 2011, Max formed the Zaker Group, a consulting business. At the time, he considered himself semi-retired. But, then, he was hired to consult with Keller Williams as a team leader involved with entrepreneurship development, coaching and training, business planning, growth management, profit sharing strategies and real estate sales training. Then, Max ended-up acquiring the franchise he was working with as a consultant. In Janury 2015, Max and wife Claudia became the new owners of the Keller Williams Realty franchise in Chula Vista. Today, their office, at 2371 Fenton St., has about 115 agents and growing. They recently opened an escrow company called Marina Vista Escrow.
Max is supportive of PSAR for its professionalism and integrity. “Our Association is outstanding at encouraging business ethics and best practices,” he said. “We need to raise the bar and teach the next generation the importance of following your dream. A collective group like PSAR is an excellent way to work for the interests of small business owners. As a stake holder in the community, I’m proud to support and help advance PSAR's mission.”