How Rajon Rondo’s Big Brother Became the NBA’s Go-To Concierge
The state of that thing right now is small, but growing. Rondo doesn’t own any limos, though he has three employees and annual revenues of around $240,000. Rondo says it’s enough to make him profitable, even if it is only about what his brother makes in two games. Of course, references to his brother will dog Rondo no matter what he does. And that, in a way, highlights his biggest challenge as he works to grow his company: convincing people that he’s got more to offer than just Rajon Rondo’s last name.
One person who remains unconvinced is Scott Solombrino, the president and CEO of Chelsea-based Dav El, which, with more than 12,500 vehicles across the globe, is one of the largest limo companies out there. Solombrino says that while he has no familiarity with SGT, he’s not impressed with the concept. He argues that since many limo companies, like his, take care of concierge services on their own, there’s no need for a third party. If a client has to get somewhere on, say, a private jet, Solombrino says, “We pick up the phone and make two calls.” Besides, he says, credit card companies like American Express already have robust concierge services for their high-income customers.
“I don’t know him and I don’t know of his business, so I’m not being critical of that,” Solombrino says. “But I do know one thing, that there’s nothing unique versus what other people are doing every single day in the marketplace, what they’ve been doing for decades. The uniqueness for him is that his brother is a famous basketball player.”
When I tell Rondo about Solombrino’s criticism, he becomes unusually combative. “Scott Solombrino, I’m sure he’s running a successful business,” he says. “If he could do what I do, then I wouldn’t be in business now.” He continues, emphasizing the perspective he’s gained from watching Rajon deal with his celebrity. “I’m related to a basketball player, so I’m not like a lot of the people [who] overcharge you,” is what Rondo says he tells players he’s recruiting. “They see that I’ve been through it: I’ve seen groupies, I’ve seen the limelight, I’ve seen VIP services, I’ve seen a lot of things, so I tell them they can trust me.”
A week later, on the phone, he brings up Solombrino’s criticism again, unprompted. “Scott doesn’t do half the things I do,” Rondo says. As Rajon could tell you, Will Rondo has long had a competitive side.
IN JANUARY, Kendrick Perkins, the popular former Celtics center who was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, returned to Boston for the first time in an enemy uniform. He was mobbed before the game by the media, and, as the scrum broke up, I asked him to talk about Rondo and SGT. “After the game,” he said. The Thunder went on to beat the Celtics and, after dealing with yet another scrum (you can’t underestimate the unpleasantness of these things — imagine 25 foul-smelling people, some with severe dandruff issues, sticking microphones and recorders in your face), Perkins made time for me, even with all his old friends waiting for him outside. As I approached him to chat, a Thunder PR flack tried to shoo me away, but Perkins, one of Rajon’s best friends, stepped in. He wanted to take a moment to talk about Will Rondo.
“If you needed anything — assistance on anything — you could call Will at 5 in the morning and he’s gonna be there for you,” Perkins said. Well, Perk, I asked, did you ever have to call Will so early, or late, as the case may be? “I did a few times.” Can you say for what? A smile crossed the 6-foot-10, 270-pound intimidator’s face. “No.” Rondo also declined to provide details.