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  • Characters José Luis 'el turronero': this is how the billionaire king of the parties that brings together voxeros and socialists made friends, partners and businesses

It is impossible to review the country's business history without focusing on the era of eros. Self-made businessmen who carry as a badge the nickname of a humble trade that they have magnified after a long struggle. If decades ago it was the nickname of Paco El Pocerothat started this tradition so traditional, now it is two businessmen, more appreciated and much less controversial, who continue with this appellative trail.

Both José Luis López, El Turronero, and Luis Miguel Rodríguez, El Chatarrero, embody today the most outstanding of the high Spanish standing. Both are popular, wealthy and stars of Madrid's evening. Social networks in the old way and ahead of their time in terms of creating personal brands that have known how to carve their destiny with their own means. Their nicknames rhyme and their stories are in consonance. However, according to their trajectories: Would you be able to find the seven differences between them?

They started from scratch

The success story of Luis Miguel Rodríguez (Parla, Madrid, 1956) is that of a car enthusiast who knew how to build a fruitful destination in a vacant lot with hardly any resources. "I started badly with 10,000 square meters, with one hectare of land that my grandmother, my father's mother, had," Luismi Rodríguez tells LOC. The businessman receives us in Desguaces La Torre, a company he has managed since 1982.

"I started alone and was alone for a year until the first person came to work with me," he says. "Since then I've been too daring and it's been a non-stop. I had the ambition to make that very big: first the largest scrapyard in Madrid, then the largest in Spain and now we have the largest scrapping in the world, with a million square meters that I got by collecting land."

Luis Miguel Rodríguez at the gates of 'Desguaces La Torre'ÁNGEL NAVARRETEEL MUNDO

This ambition to grow a lot by a lot is shared with José Luis López, El Turronero, whom the speaker admires as an administrator and friend. "He's a good person, a hard worker who also started from scratch. He doesn't stop, he's tireless. He deserves everything he has," he says. This media has also tried to interview the Andalusian businessman, but his press team has declined the offer. "They are two businessmen who have nothing to do," they say from their communication cabinet when they learned that this report was abouthim and Luis Miguel Rodríguez.

Born in Ubrique (Cádiz) in 1963, José Luis López did not even start with a piece of land, but by intermediating in the purchase of one. In an interview with EL MUNDO, El Turronero talked about his first transaction, which arose by chance when a businessman friend asked him to come and ask his owner the price of a plot. Thanks to his rhetorical arts, he managed to lower the price from 90 million to 60 million pesetas. He had a talent for mediating.

"José Luis, you're going to charge me one percent of the amount. And to him, the same," he remembers this first client telling him. "I saw myself with 1.2 million pesetas without doing anything," he revealed about his beginnings. At that time, he worked selling insurance and his wife, Carmen Mariscal, sewing bags. From being a boy of humble origins, son of sellers of sweets and nougats (hence his name), he became amillionaire with 34 years. Stage in which he already had between "80 and 100 million pesetas" from the real estate sector.

José Luis López with his wife, Carmen Mariscal, on his 60th birthdayGTRES

Business and success

Gone is for both employers that romantic memory of the first million. Mature and settled in the financial maelstrom, the two manage companies that sailed many years ago and have come to fruition, although sailing through very different waters. While Parla is currently the owner of six companies dedicated solely to cars and hospitality, Ubrique manages up to 67 companies whose scope is incomprehensible.

The owner of Desguaces La Torre speaks openly about his numbers and reveals that his company has invoiced this year "more than 30 million", a figure that he expects to rise to "40 million". Desguaces La Torre S.A. is the company to which it refers and of which it is the majority shareholder, with 50% of the shares. His ex-wife, Asunción Fernández, owns another 49.85%.

This vehicle cemetery, located on the banks of the Madrid-Toledo road, at kilometer 45 of the A-42, currently employs almost 400 people. "We are 397 in the scrapyard and in the cafeteria another 20 people," explains Luis Miguel Rodríguez about the rest of the companies with which he manages his other businesses. He runs workshops, restaurants and designs new projects that he does not cease to undertake when he has time and place.

Luis Miguel Rodríguez in one of the classrooms of his new driving schoolÁNGEL NAVARRETEEL MUNDO

In addition to its main company, it manages Recambios y repuestos La Torre S.L., Recuperación y reciclado del automóvil S.L., La Casa Grande del Aceite de Oliva S.L, La Torre Hostelería S.L and El Convento de Torrejón Velasco S.L. These last three companies are dedicated to agriculture, to the administration of the restaurant-cafeteria that is part of the scrapping and to the management of a space that "was previously a convent and in which we now have wedding halls, cocktail bar and restaurant".

According to the latest accessible data, these companies came to accumulate a total asset of 60 million euros. It is a family emporium, in which his ex-wife, his two daughters and until recently, his two brothers also participate. "One of my brothers went to start businesses on his own, another is here with me and one of my daughters is also here working," he says. His other daughter - both are the result of his marriage more than three decades ago with Asunción López -, is in charge of the hospitality part.

The Empire of Luismi

For this report, Luis Miguel Rodríguez gave us a tour of his business facilities. "As a child I saw a film of American scrapyards, of shredders where they grind cars and that idea stuck with me." Despite his father's opposition and thanks to a little help from his mother, he set up his scrapyard on one hectare. He was 22 years old and decided to fulfill his American dream in Torrejón de la Calzada. Decades later, he's still thinking big.

"We will now have the largest driving school in Spain, where we will do courses to recover points, car license, motorcycle, truck, bus, forklift driver ...", he lists. "There will be a circuit that will be inside the facilities, which have 80,000 meters: 8,000 for the driving school and the rest is used for the scrapping service area, which is where the garages of the cranes, gas stations and car washes are," he says. During our walk, we visited the classrooms of the academy, which will be baptized as La Torre Ciudad del Conductor Driving School and which impresses with its size and presence.

Luis Miguel Rodríguez in front of the building where he will mount his car museumÁNGEL NAVARRETEEL MUNDO

We also take a guided tour of the building that, according to the businessman, will house the largest car museum in the world. "It has 37,000 meters, it needs to be finished," he explains about a project that began years ago, but had to cancel it due to a debt and sold the cars he had to exhibit for three million. "I had to pay the Treasury and then I got rid of the car collection to pay. Everything from the Treasury is solved and up to date, so we will start again. We will buy cars again to fill the museum."

Among his collector's pieces, which he buys from families who sell them, is the Audi V8 in which Aznar suffered the ETA attack. In 1995, the terrorist group planted a bomb on the vehicle that can be seen when the first exhibition opens.

The last stop on this tour is a go-kart track located in front of the scrapyard. "We have 500,000 meters to do it, it will be the largest in Spain. It will have four tracks and we will do international championships. I estimate that we will start in a year and a half and in another year we will open it."

'El Turronero' with Gloria Camila in 2023GTRES

The Turronero, from the ground to the sky

On the other hand, when analyzing the business and family network of El Turronero, it is necessary to scrutinize among its 67 companies with available information, since 40 of those it manages have not presented accounts. His most successful company is López Real 09 SL, dedicated to the management and administration of real estate. In 2021 the company accumulated profits of more than 30 million annually and had his daughter Carmen as sole administrator. While José Luis, his wife Carmen Mariscal and his other son, Pepe, appear as proxies.

Dozens of the companies that the Ubrican and his relatives own are brought together in Grupo Lomar 2011 SL, a parent company that accumulates a total asset of around 150 million euros. Together, its companies have assets of 190 million euros and an annual turnover of more than 67 million. Almost all this money comes from the real estate sector, but also from other activities such as the manufacture of furniture, construction materials, electrical installations, clothing design, food sales and a long etcetera.

"I have a lot, but well distributed," José Luis López told this newspaper when asked if he would like to appear on the Forbes list. To date, it has never appeared in the ranking of the 300 richest in Spain, nor among the 30 richest in Andalusia. He prefers to keep a low profile in this regard and give more publicity to his charitable work. Through the López Mariscal Foundation, it helps people in need.

José Luis López, 'El Turronero', with Fran Rivera in 2023GTRES

Sociable and influential

Although today the name of El Turronero has a good reputation associated with it, it has not always been so. The tycoon, who last July celebrated his 60th birthday surrounded by more than 3,500 people, became media for a judicial misstep. The businessman helped María José Campanario, wife of Jesulín de Ubrique, to connect to a network that plotted Social Security scams to obtain work disabilities.

"I was wrong, I assume it," he said at the time. Through that scandal it was known that in 2017 he had to reach an agreement of conformity to avoid jail after admitting that he had issued false accounting invoices and that he committed a crime of prevarication with the former mayor of Jerez, Pedro Pacheco, after appraising land for much less than its value.

However, today he says he regrets these decisions that almost led him to prison. At present, his figure is associated more with his altruistic actions and his friendship with influential people. Proof of this is his multitudinous birthday, which was attended by hundreds of celebrities from all walks of life in Spain such as the president of Barça, Joan Laporta, the former politician Albert Rivera, the singer Bertín Osborne, the actor Miguel Ángel Silvestre, the singer Chenoa or Luis Miguel Rodríguez himself, who remembers the party with a big smile.

Luis Miguel Rodríguez with the Infanta ElenaGTRES

"That was a spectacle, exaggerated, messy there the world. We've never seen anything like it," he describes. "We know each other because we have coincided in Madrid, at parties," he explains. That pharaonic event was able to surprise someone like him, also accustomed to jarana and fame.

Luis Miguel Rodríguez entered the pages of the heart for being a couple of Carmen Martínez-Bordiú and Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, with whom he assures to get along greatly, as well as with his ex-wife. He also has a close relationship with relevant characters of the social chronicle, such as the Infanta Elena, whom he made laugh on one occasion: "I know her from events and that was at an awards ceremony that was funny. The Infanta is a nice person, smart, very intelligent. We had a good time."

Now, he likes to be single and enjoy the afternoons of bullfighting with different women. Some are friends, some wives of friends, and some are a little more. "My three girlfriends were my wife, Ágatha and Carmen, the rest are friends for less time," he says. El Turronero may have more friends than Roberto Carlos and an immense heritage. Of course, as for eros, El Chatarrero undoubtedly wins.

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