“I’ve Operated Globally For Over 30 Years”
I'VE BEEN AN ENTREPRENEUR my entire adult life—either starting companies, or buying existing ones and growing them.
Creating Successful Businesses
My key to creating and building successful businesses is to have total belief in the firm and its vision, recruiting and training a powerful team to execute the vision, and fostering an extremely high level of excitement as to what the firm is going to achieve. The whole team then passes that excitement on to the other constituents of the company — such as the board, staff, customers, investors, partners and vendors.
Just look at how this played out with Diligent. The depth of talent my partners and I installed at Diligent over the 10-year pre-IPO period speaks for itself. This team built Diligent and many of them are still there building Diligent today.
I believe in empowering and encouraging the management of any company I’m starting, or have acquired, to treat the company as if it's their own. My management teams are carefully selected and structured, and always compensated and incentivized as if they were the owners. How can you keep good people if you don't treat them like owners and give them a vested interest in the company?
This summarizes how I work — and results in excellent staff retention, and a solid list of top executives wanting to join my ventures. The right team is your most enduring asset. The value and the power of a team have been proven time and again.
Conducting Due Diligence
My process for acquiring or creating a company involves huge amounts of due diligence. My team might spend months and even a year or more on due diligence in investigating a firm — only to find in the end that it's not suitable. This actually happens quite often.
And, I might add, we’ve been extremely successful because we’re very particular — we don’t “bite” on a deal until we’ve done all the due diligence required to give us the confidence it will be successful. And then we carefully assemble and motivate a top management team to run the business.
We’ve done due diligence on dozens of companies in the past four years and only invested in three of late — and they’re all very successful.
Highlights of Brian's Business Ventures
Founder, and Managing Member of: Fund Development Services, LLC (FDS)
Founder and Managing Member of Manhattan Travel, LLC (MT)
Co-Founder and Interim Founding Chairman of Arria NLG, PLC
Founder and Managing Director of NZSL, Limited
Prior Investor Owner of Breads of Europe
Diligent Board Member Services, Inc.
Diligent Partners, LLC
Manhattan Creative Partners
Manhattan Creative Strategies
This event, and Brian’s resultant bankruptcy, was 25 years (a quarter of a century) ago and its lack of sterling success was due to circumstances beyond his control. However, what Brian learned from this experience at such a young age enhanced his ability to succeed in his future business ventures. Every other public or private company that Brian has since started or acquired has either been a success or has changed hands on a successful basis.
The Energycorp story requires special attention:
The media often point out the failure of Energycorp. However, it was just one of 221 public companies that succumbed to the Crash. According to www.teara.govt.nz:
"The international stockmarket crash of 1987 affected New Zealand more severely than other western countries. Between 1988 and 1991 many New Zealand-listed companies fell over, wiping away shareholders’ funds. Bankruptcies, which had risen gradually from under 100 annually in the immediate post-war years to about 800 in the early 1980s, increased to almost 2,000 in 1989. That year there were almost 3,000 company insolvencies — almost a quarter of new company registrations."
To attempt to sensationalize the failure of Energycorp ignores the reality of the context of the October 1987 Crash. Here are the market facts:
1) By the end of October, stock markets in Hong Kong had fallen 45.5%, Australia 41.8%, Spain 31%, the United Kingdom 26.45%, the United States 22.68%, and Canada 22.5%. New Zealand's market was hit especially hard, falling about 60% from its 1987 peak, and taking several years to recover.
2) Before the Crash, there were 361 companies listed on the NZX with a combined market cap of $50 billion.
3) Eighteen months later, only 140 companies remained, and their combined market cap had dropped to $14.5 billion.
4) All in all, 221 NZX public companies failed and/or were delisted. And this does not take into account the failure of non-listed entities such as the Development Finance Corporation, the 7th largest lending institution in New Zealand, or the fact that the Bank of New Zealand was twice rescued by the government, and numerous other mitigating facts that may be forgotten in the course of time.
5) In business, it doesn’t matter how big or how good you are, things can go wrong. A case in point, as recently as 2001, Air New Zealand was rescued by the New Zealand government with $885 million of taxpayer money.
6) And, it should be noted, the 1987 Crash pales in comparison to the recent 2008 Global Crash in which Brian’s NZX-listed company, Diligent Board Member Services, has not only survived, but prospered.