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I N S T I T U T E • F O R • L A W AND E C O N O M I C S


Robert Potamkin L’70 runs auto dealerships, develops real estate and invests in other businesses such as radio stations, television stations, and Office Depot stores in Poland and Hungary. And he’s done exceptionally well, with 68 auto franchises all over the United States. He projects gross revenues of $1.6 billion for 2002. So, to what does his good fortune accrue?

Potamkin traces his success to the business acumen he acquired while studying law at Penn. The auto mogul expounded on the car business as he spoke at the 17th Institute for Law and Entrepreneur Lecture last September.

He said a major part of the value in his far-flung dealerships derives from the real estate on which the dealerships are located. Expanding on this point, he said car manufacturers make excellent tenants: They pay the rent and tend to stay in one location for a long time. Value attaches as well to management by talented general managers who have an ownership interest in the specific location they run which, in Potamkin’s words, “guarantees a committed and savvy manager.” As a successful dealmaker, Potamkin advised: “There is no good deal with a bad guy.”

As much the well-known philanthropist as entrepreneur, he was co-founder of the Potamkin Prize for Alzheimer’s Research, was a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and remains active in the World Presidents’ Organization. Potamkin and his wife, Lexie, also are members of the United Way Million Dollar Roundtable, supporting the organization with their gift of $1 million.


Members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) participated in a daylong roundtable discussion on labor law last December. The first subject was Judging Unions’ Future Using a Historical Perspective: The Public Policy Choice Between Competition and Unionization. Next a panel of experts talked about Employment Representation in the Boundaryless Workplace. The last panel discussed NLRB v. Pall Corp: Bargaining for Recognition Rights. Harold Datz, NLRB’s chief counsel, and NLRB member Wilma B. Liebman were participants. Moderators included Michael L. Wachter, William B. Johnson Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Marshall B. Babson of Jones, Day Reavis & Pogue. Babson is a former member of the NLRB. Edward B. Rock, Saul A. Fox Distinguished Professor of Business Law, is co-director with Wachter of Penn’s Institute for Law and Economics.

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