The Gran Pacifica Leadership Team
Michael Cobb, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer in Nicaragua
At the height of a successful career in the computer industry, Mr. Cobb left to pursue more pioneering opportunities in the emerging real estate markets of Central America. In 1996, he and his business partner formed a company, Exotic Caye International, to provide loans to North Americans purchasing properties in Belize, Honduras and throughout the region. As the need for capital outstripped the supply, the mortgage company was converted to an international bank under the jurisdiction of Belize. It continues to provide mortgage services, but has expanded its services to encompass the full realm of financial products.
Mr. Cobb also saw the need for a regional real estate company that would serve the Baby Boomer consumer with a North American standard product for the next 2 decades. He led the group into real estate development and created a holding company for several properties including a resort on Ambergris Caye, Belize. In August of 2000, Exotic Caye purchased 3.5 miles of Pacific Beachfront property due west of Managua, Nicaragua. This master planned community hosts world class infrastructure, homes and condominium units. In February of 2006, the ECI Development group acquired 1100 acres and 3km of coastline in Costa Rica, setting the stage for expansion into this popular market. Most recently they merged their Belize property with a much larger parcel and have begun to develop 200 condominiums units on Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Additionally, Mike Cobb has spoken at hundreds of international conferences about real estate financing and development. He has acted as a consultant to The Oxford Club and gives counsel to various real estateprojects throughout Central America. Since 2002, Mike, his wife Carol, and 2 daughters, Amanda and Emily make their home in Managua, Nicaragua.
Mike Cobb hosts a weekly online radio program titled "Mike's Gringo Life" on the Overseas Radio Network on Tuesdays from 6pm to 8pm. Based on his blog about the adventures of living in Nicaragua, Cobb interviews a variety of people such as expats who are retired, those who moved overseas to start a business, and those with kids who share information about the school system and activities for children. The program also highlights cultural events in the area and discusses hot topics such as government, investments, and tourism.
Joel Nagel, Co-Founder
Joel Nagel is a global entrepreneur, diplomat and philanthropist. As the founder of the first specialty law firm in Pittsburgh, Joel brings an impressive array of accomplishments and experience to everything that he does. His leadership skills have allowed him the opportunity to serve on the boards of a number of private and nonprofit organizations, as well as to be hosted as a featured speaker and author in a wide variety of business media outlets and associations.
Joel Nagel opened Nagel & Associates, LLC in 1992. The firm’s specialty is designing and delivering strategies to strengthen their clients' commercial interests abroad. Under Joel’s leadership, the law firm has successfully guided its clients through the intricacies of structuring international corporations and engaging in global transactions, as well as aided with emigration and immigration. Nagel & Associates also provides strategic guidance in the areas of estate and tax planning and asset protection, both domestic and abroad.
Joel received his undergraduate degree from Allegheny College in 1986. Pursuing his love of the international arena, Joel travelled overseas to spend a year at the University of Bonn, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He returned to obtain his law degree from West Virginia University, followed by an L.L.M. in international law from Georgetown University Law School. Joel returned to Europe to study at several outstanding institutions, including The Hague Academy of International Law.
Joel began his professional career in one of the most important agencies of the U.S, Executive Branch—the Department of Commerce. He served in the Office of Chief Counsel for International Commerce, after which he joined the law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll. In addition to assisting his clients to expand their market reach in overseas markets, such as Africa, Europe and Central America, Joel also served the Government of Belize as Ambassador to the U.N. in Vienna as well as Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.
Eddie Littlefield, ECI President
Eddie Littlefield brings extensive real estate development experience to ECI from his role as President/CEO of the David Drye Company, LLC of Concord, N.C. DDC is a privately owned and operated company that has specialized in the development, construction and management of real estate projects since 1970. Eddie is also owner of the Carolina Speed of the American Indoor Football Association, and owner/founder of Carolina Auto Sports.
During 20 years with the David Drye Company, Eddie has managed more than 8,500 multi-family units and eight hotels with more than 550 employees. In his role as a construction manager for the company, he was responsible for the construction and timely completion within budget of over 60 projects with budgets exceeding $472 million. He has also taken part in other projects to include student housing, an education facility, Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins stores, a five acre Family Adventures Fun Park, and a casual dining restaurant.
Patrick Hiebert, Chief Operations Officer
Mr. Hiebert graduated with a degree in Computer Science from the University of Winnipeg in Canada. After working as a consulting specialist on emerging technologies for several years Patrick co-founded an Energy Management Software firm, TransEnergy Management, which quickly grew from the founders to over 300 employees with offices and clients in the US, Canada, Central and South America, Europe, and Australia. After the company was acquired Patrick founded a second software company, Epikos Solutions, which was also later privately acquired.
Finding himself with more time on his hands, Patrick took the opportunity to travel with his family. One of these travel adventures took him to Nicaragua.
Looking for a change and to make a difference in people's lives, Patrick found Nicaragua to be the perfect blend of the safest country in Central America, friendly people, beautiful landscape and the perfect climate. Patrick is now in his 11th year working, volunteering and now living full time in Nicaragua.
Applying his business experience and knowledge to Gran Pacifica Beach and Golf Resort as owner of the hotel rental, tours and restaurant businesses, Patrick grew these businesses substantially in a few short years. Recently, Patrick has joined the ECI Development group (parent corporation of Gran Pacifica, Grand Baymen and other Central American resorts) as Vice President of Sales and Marketing overseeing the Sales and Marketing efforts in Belize, Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua and its expansion into other Central American countries.
As the founder of the Help Them Help Themselves charitable foundation, Patrick is also very committed to improving the lives of the local people through leading many projects that focus on healthcare, education and shelter.
Rachel Jensen, Vice President of Sales & Marketing
Rachel Jensen, originally from Westchester, New York, joined the ECI Development family in 2012, starting as the organization’s intern at the administrative offices in Managua, Nicaragua. At the end of the 3-month internship period she had to make a decision between joining the ECI Development team permanently, or chasing her dreams in Panama with the US Peace Corps. She chose ECI Development.
Rachel is the Vice President of Sales for ECI Development’s Grand Baymen community on Ambergris Caye, Belize, in addition to the Vice President of Business Development for Hardwoods Unlimited, Ltd. She thoroughly enjoys connecting prospective investors to the opportunities that best fit their investment goals.
The mission of Grand Baymen’s parent company, ECI Development Ltd., is to create value through socially responsible development of properties and to promote a higher quality of living for its partners and communities. In all things, ECI has set an unmistakable foundation of authentic humanitarian outreach to the communities it inhabits, committing significant resources and service through dialogue with local civic leadership. This coupled with the commitment to create a real community is the core value system that drives ECI’s success.
Valeria Espinoza, Vice President of Operations
While completing her Business Administration major with Marketing Degree in 2004, Mrs. Espinoza started working with a small family non-profit that was executing social projects in the city of Managua. Working first as an administrative assistant and accounting auxiliary, after one year she was promoted and moved to the northern border of Nicaragua to work as supervisor of a housing project for the poorest families of the county.
It was a very complicated and sensitive position, as it required her to work, supervise and control the activities of men at their construction jobs. This is a role usually assigned to men. After a month, she earned their respect. Simultaneously, she was teaching English to students at the American School during the weekends. Having both positions was a great experience, both totally different, but rewarding due to their impact in lives of the people she worked with.
After 5 months Mrs. Espinoza was called for an interview to Gran Pacifica to perform the job of assistant to the CEO. She took the job and her life changed. Her passion and dedication to the company led her growth within the organization with different roles through the years. Her journey started on September 19, 2005 and Mrs. Espinoza held many different responsibilities and duties, from executive assistant, to sales administrator, to marketing coordinator.
On February 2017, she was promoted to the Vice President of Operations for the company. This is a huge challenge and responsibility for her with the many changes happening simultaneously in the organization. Ms. Espinoza is leading the team to perform well, challenging them to do better on a daily basis, and keeping within each of them, the vision and mission of Gran Pacifica in order to accomplish the company’s goals.