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Gerry Schwartz Quotes: How to Build a Conglomerate from Scratch

Today, I will be sharing with you Gerry Schwartz quotes and strategies for building a conglomerate from scratch. Gerry Schwartz is the Canadian billionaire founder of Onex Corporation; one of the largest conglomerate in Canada and in this article, he outlined his step by step strategy for building a business conglomerate from scratch.

Are you interested in starting a business from scratch and growing it into a conglomerate? Then read on as I share with you Gerry Schwartz strategies for building a conglomerate from scratch.

                Gerry Schwartz Quotes: How to Build a Conglomerate from Scratch


1.            I’ve always liked transactional things. And I always knew that I’d go into business. But the person I was in high school wouldn’t recognize me today. I had no inkling, not even a slight one, of building a company as large and as much fun as Onex.

2.            As a kid, I worked Friday nights and Saturdays in my family’s retail store. I remember a salesman who was just fantastic. I marveled at his ability. I didn’t close any big deals. But I loved having customers and closing a sale.

3.            I wanted to be an executive and to have a big job that would pay at least $10,000 a year. I thought $10,000 was a big deal.

4.            I can’t remember a day growing up without my father talking to me about business. If he bought real estate, he’d explain how and why.

5.            Onex is a holding company and takes an active role in the strategic and financial direction of its subsidiaries. Our goal has always been to build individual subsidiaries into a position of being number one or two in market share in the world, or at least in their niche.

6.            The digital revolution and e-commerce are just in their infancy, and we’ve been trying to find ways to put our hook into that rocket ship as it goes up.

7.            I enjoy the independence of single-handling a boat. I like controlling the elements, making the wind and the waves and the water work for me.

8.            One of the hallmarks of Onex is that since I started the company in 1983, every professional who has joined the company at our Toronto head office is still here. We’ve had no turnover.

9.            Collectively, we make Onex a dynamic and collegial place to work, which is why we’ve had almost no turnover among our professional staff in the more than 20 years since we started the company.

10.          I consider myself fortunate to work with one of the most capable teams in our business. They are as tireless as they are inventive, and those qualities have served the interests of shareholders as well.

                Gerry Schwartz Quotes: How to Build a Conglomerate from Scratch


11.          We operate it in a very team-oriented, team-spirited way, and very non-hierarchical. It’s more of a partnership than like a hierarchical corporation.

12.          The strength of Onex is the strength of that team of people. And not just the team as it is today. We keep adding to it all the time, younger people who work their way up.

13.          The personality still comes from the Chief Executive.

14.          We take an excruciating length of time to buy an asset. We did nothing in the late 1980s because of all the pressure to do deals. That’s not our game.

15.          Every decision Onex makes is made on the basis of creating long-term value. Our philosophy is to operate like a forever owner of an asset.

16.          I am very excited by this transaction because of the opportunity to make a paradigm shift in an unbelievably important industry that has been limping or broken for probably 25 years.

17.          In every business we’ve been, employment is higher than when we started.

18.          Everybody’s spending all their time talking about whose hand is in whose pocket. That’s not the issue. The issue is, what can this airline become? Combine these two companies, and you’ll have a $9 billion, highly profitable domestic franchise that can go out and conquer the world.

19.          I think Canadians are entitled to see the Maple Leaf go around the world and know that it’s Canadian owned.

20.          That is 800 million in new revenue and thousands of Canadian jobs.

                Gerry Schwartz Quotes: How to Build a Conglomerate from Scratch


21.          The hardest lesson I’ve learned has been to not repeat the dumb mistakes I’ve made over the years, which are too numerous to list.

22.          I thought I’d have assistants do that stuff for me, which is why I missed the value of the digital era in so many ways. You can’t understand the power of technology unless you use it.

23.          He gave me a Palm Pilot. I got on a plane from Seattle to Florida, a five-hour flight, and started on the instruction book. I couldn’t figure it out.

24.          I said, ‘That’s it.’ I decided to learn. From that day forward, I’ve insisted Onex be on the leading edge of information technology.

25.          It mystified me. But when the stocks kept going up and up, I began to not believe in myself. I thought I was from a bygone era that wasn’t useful anymore. The things I believed in, like value, just didn’t seem to make sense anymore.

26.          I’m still a long distance from smart. But I’m also a long distance from dumb.

27.          There is no such thing as high returns without risk.

28.          I want to grow. I don’t want to get stuck doing the same thing over and over and think I’m the best at it. It would hurt. But we’ll dust ourselves off and we’ll come back.

29.          I’m a nationalist who believes huge opportunities are lost with every head office departure. We need to make things easier for Canadian-based companies. And I’m not talking about a lower dollar. That just sells our labour cheap.

30.          I went to school in the United States, and I lived in the U.S. for seven years after that. I wanted to come back to Canada. I would say that at least half of the professional staff here have all been educated in the U.S. and worked in the U.S. but wanted to come back to Canada.

                Gerry Schwartz Quotes: How to Build a Conglomerate from Scratch


31.          We are a very Canadian company. Our head office is here. All our senior people live here and want to live here. We have a group in New York of quite senior people as well, but the bulk of the management team are Canadians who want to live in Canada.

32.          We need an environment that fosters entrepreneurship and encourages young people in the new economy. If those people are there and want to stay in Canada, there would be lots of venture capital money for them. Money will follow the people and the ideas, not the other way around.

33.          We’re a global business for sure. Our revenues last year were $15 billion and my guess would be that maybe $1 billion of that was in Canada. The rest of it was around the world. Does that make us a Canadian company or does that make us a company which is headquartered in Canada? I think we’re a Canadian company.

34.          We would like to make a major Canadian acquisition. We would like to have a business that operates in Canada and provides either goods or services to Canadians. More people, more transactions; larger amounts of capital and identical philosophy.

35.          Everybody is a real partner. And it makes a big difference.

36.          Investments are like trains, and if you miss one, don’t worry because another one will come down the line.

37.          We’ve got customers. We’ve got suppliers. We’ve got employees. We’ve got unions. We’ve got communities. We’ve got all of these things that go into making up whether a business succeeds or fails.

38.          I've got a long time. I've got a long time. I've got 25 to 30 years of this; maybe longer. As long as I am healthy, I’m not going to retire.

39.          Dying rich has always struck me as dumb…There is still lots I want to accomplish, and I have a number of philanthropic interests to support. © 2009 - 2015. All Rights Reserved | See Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.