Latest News About our Team
Press Release / Dec. 4th 2015
ECI’s Cobb Named Among “100 Outstanding CEOs in Central America” By Leading Central American Magazine “Mercados & Tendencias.”
The ECI Leadership Team
Chief Executive Officer: Michael K. Cobb, Co-Founder
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, Michael 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 estate projects throughout Central America.
Joel Nagel, Co-Founder
For those who know him, it's no surprise that Joel Nagel ended up pioneering a specialty international law firm. His enthusiasm for law and international relations emerged early in his adult life. After receiving his undergraduate degree in 1986 from Allegheny College, Joel headed to the University of Bonn to study as a Fulbright Scholar for a year. He returned to pursue a law degree at West Virginia University, which he received in 1989. To solidify the link between his passion for global business affairs and the law, Joel went on to obtain his L.L.M. in International Law and Taxation from Georgetown University Law School, where he graduated with honors. He then returned to Europe for additional post-graduate studies, including time at the Hague Academy of International Law in the Netherlands.
Before launching Pittsburgh’s first boutique law firm, Joel spent some time working for the U.S. Department of Commerce in the Office of Chief Counsel for International Commerce. His tenure there gave him further experience in the intricacies of government affairs, a skillset which would later prove itself essential. He then joined Buchanan Ingersoll, one of the largest law firms in the country.
Joel Nagel founded Nagel & Associates, LLC in 1992. The firm develops and implements strategic plans that assist their global client base through complex legal issues, such as asset protection, international commercial transactions, structuring corporations in foreign markets, immigration and emigration matters and tax planning.
Nagel’s strategic eye and willingness to push the envelope have enabled him to be a global entrepreneur, successfully concluding a number of high-profile projects in Africa, Europe and Central America. Among his projects are transportation centers, hotels, retirement communities, and financial centers. Rounding out his immersion in foreign relations, Joel represented the Government of Belize as Ambassador to the U.N. in Vienna, Austria, as well as Ambassador to 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 Operating 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. As Chief Operating Officer for ECI Development, Patrick oversees all departments of the company's efforts in Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua and its expansion into other Central and South 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 And Marketing
Ms. Jensen joined the ECI Development team in 2012, starting as the organization’s marketing intern at the administrative offices in Managua, Nicaragua. At the end of her 3-month internship period, she had to make a decision between accepting a full-time position with ECI, or chasing her dreams in Panama with the U.S. Peace Corps. She ultimately chose ECI Development. Originally from the suburbs of New York, Ms. Jensen now calls San Pedro, Belize home.
Today, Ms. Jensen is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for ECI Development, a regional development company based throughout Latin America in Costa Rica, Belize, Panama and Nicaragua. From the ground up, she has built and grown the sales and marketing department at the Grand Baymen community. Due to her strong passion of connecting folks with international real estate that meets their goals, she was awarded Sales Person of the Year for 2014, 2015 and 2016. In addition, Ms. Jensen structured the Teak for Residency Program in both Panama and Nicaragua to assist those looking to pair up a residency with alternative options outside of their home countries.
Ms. Jensen is a resident of Panama and thoroughly enjoys the Latin American lifestyle. She is often on the road educating folks at international events about the markets and opportunities abroad.
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.
Fredman Valenzuela, Director of Affiliate Program & IT
Mr. Valenzuela joined the Gran Pacifica team in 2009. He has contributed many fresh, innovative ideas, guided by his previous experience in various industries, such as pharmaceuticals, gourmet coffee, cigars, and computer software development.
Through the years his contributions also extended to websites and marketing. He works hand in hand with the digital marketing firms to keep The Company up-to-date. By 2015, he was part of the team that implemented the Hubspot Platform to continue growing the marketing of The Company in order to grow a pool of prospective clients.
In June 2016, he was promoted to Technology and Marketing Manager, showing an outstanding performance through an increase in visits to the websites, greater leads generated, and an improved conversion rate for the various companies. Due to the incredible increase of marketing activity, in February of 2017, he took on the role as Director of Marketing and Technology for the entire ECI Development group of companies.
In January 2018, he was appointed the Director of the Affiliate Program.