Members of the Broward Solar Co-op recently chose Cutler Bay Solar Solutions to serve as the installer of solar panels for the group. The company was selected through a competitive bidding process with five other firms. “Millions of Americans are realizing that solar power is not only environmentally friendly, but...

If any real estate entity embodies the way Miami has matured into one of the world’s top luxury real estate markets, it is Fortune International Group. By now it’s an institution, connected to the most celebrated architects in the industry and the most prestigious residential towers in South Florida. Herzog and de Meuron. Carlos Ott. Pierre-Yves Rochon. Kravitz Design (as in Lenny Kravitz). Luis Revuelta. Arquitectonica. Michele Bonan. Jade Signature. Jade Ocean. Auberge Beach. Hyde Resort and Residences. The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Sunny Isles Beach. Panorama Tower. It was Edgardo Defortuna, founder, CEO and president, who put Fortune on the map by applying his company’s distinctive mark to the South Florida skyline. And just as impressive as Fortune’s list of exalted projects is its versatility, a reflection of Defortuna’s vision and resourcefulness. Fortune is a real estate developer, a sales and marketing firm, and a general brokerage. That’s a lot of fingers in a lot of pies. Auspicious Beginnings Defortuna studied architecture in the National University of Argentina and came to Miami a year after graduation. His sister had just completed medical school, and she decided to come to the United States to find her specialization. “She convinced me that we should both come here to figure out if we could develop our interests,” Defortuna recalls. “My original studies were on the engineering side, so I always loved the construction and the creativity. I thought I was going to be more on the design side than on the financing side. But being able to participate in the U.S. market rather than the Argentinian market was really an eye-opener in terms of both the quality of the construction and the lifestyle being provided. Here, when we started participating in the marketing and sales, and later in the development of projects, I was a lot more focused on how to improve the lifestyles of the people who would buy or inhabit our buildings—more than just the economics of making a good deal or good business.” Defortuna is too diplomatic to describe the market he found in Miami as “immature,” opting instead for sunnier terms: “There was a lot of potential, a lot of opportunity, especially trying to capture the Latin American market.” In 1983, he founded a general brokerage, regarding Miami as an untapped market that could be developed as an international city, a luxury product in itself. He set to work convincing foreign clients that Miami was both the ultimate in lifestyle and a safe investment, establishing Fortune Development Sales in the early 1990s, with the company being present on-site at condominiums to provide sales representation. Defortuna earned the trust of foreign buyers, cultivating a vast and enviable network. And unheard-of service. Brokers would buy and sell, he says, but they wouldn’t concentrate on making their clients’ lives easier by facilitating both the management and financing of properties. “So,” he says, “that’s where we identified a niche and really explored.” If the word “niche” comes up a lot, in conversation with Defortuna and in the company’s own marketing, that’s because Defortuna, from the start, could see what others couldn’t see—and took advantage of it. Fortune gave Miami something it didn’t even know it needed.