crains-business-cover-v2A rare-coin venture that makes cents

Kenneth A. Smaltz dropped out of NYU to work for a coin company in Manhattan in 1984, quickly becoming a top coin salesman. Then a bad mix of high living and a slow economy landed him deep in debt and unemployed in the early ’90s.

In 1997, a chastened and wiser Mr. Smaltz came back. Not wanting to have his furniture and art repossessed a second time, he now runs a rare-coin venture, Kenneth A. Smaltz, Inc., through a profit-splitting arrangement with New World Rarities. By partnering with a $25 million coin dealer with 30 employees in three locations on Long Island, Mr. Smaltz reaps the benefits of his own superior sales skills without risking the overhead that comes with establishing his own shop. His sales have increased 50% in each of the last two years, and he expects revenues to reach a bout $7.5 million this year.

This spring, Mr. Smaltz hopes to attract new customers to the rare-coin trade – professional athletes. He’s teamed up with a financial and an estate planner to hit the road for spring training, bringing the message of long-term investment and hard assets to this untapped market.