Rex Rozario, Part 4: A 10,000-ft. view of his Business Ventures, the Industry, and Life


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In our final installment, Rex describes the common thread woven through all of his successful business ventures and varied interests: confidence and the fortitude to follow his dreams until they are realized. Rex also takes a look back at the evolution of the global PCB industry, and explains his approach to profitability, which includes building (and rewarding) a successful team.

Click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Rozario: I’d like to tell you about my next venture.

Matties: Please do.

Rozario: I believe you've got to constantly look at things and different areas, and so I do have a successful restaurant in Exeter.

Matties: What's the name of the restaurant?

Rozario: Rendezvous. Of course, it is a French word that means “meeting place,” and fortunately it is next door to the law courts, so it's in an area where there are lawyers, accountants, bankers and so forth. At lunchtime, mostly the pin-striped guys are there and it's like their clubroom. It’s sustaining with all the competition. Sometimes, if you do something different, in the right area, it works.

exe-estuary.jpgAnd the next venture I'm looking at is in Devon. At the moment, there are five celebrity chefs in the UK. One is the executive chef at a hotel called Gidleigh Park, not far from here. The Sunday Times has named it the best restaurant in the entire UK for the last three years. It has two Michelin stars. I'm joining forces with this guy and he's leaving his other activities and we are creating a new hotel that’s going to be called Lympstone Manor. It's going to be open in 2017 on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, so you have an invitation.

Matties: Thank you. So about a year from now?

Rozario: Yes. It’s at a beautiful site right on the Exe Estuary, and actually when the tide comes in some of the water under the bridge comes into the property. So we are planning to have a little bar there and if you have a small boat you can come in and have a drink. You must continue to think about these things and continue to try new stuff. I'm one of those people who continues to adapt often. I don’t say, “Okay, let's call it a day and finish up.” Opportunities are coming up all the time.

Matties: That's going to be fun. Rex, I understand you had yet another life: as owner of a highly successful marina. What can you tell us about that?

In 1974, I bought my first boat and kept it at the Mayflower Marina, a large coastal marina located near the steps, where the British forefathers from the Mayflower set sail for America. Back then a developer was building some new high rise flats by the riverside. They had 96 flats built and the developer got into financial trouble and went into receivership, or what we call liquidation. I got a group together and we formed a consortium and we bought the business from the liquidator.

Then we got a few more members to come and join us and decided it would be a members’ marina. Eventually, we managed to get 90 people and put all our cash together. Of course we didn't know how to run a marina, so we recruited a guy who had just left the Navy. He knew something about ships and all that and got it going. We had the flats and the apartments as well and for a time we had to maintain all that. Then we realized that the marina was held with chains because it's a floating marina. On the chains were mussels that had attached to them. And I said, "Why don't we go into mussel farming?" So for a short period, we were into fish farming.

Then we realized we should concentrate on the marina and just keep the thing floating, and make it the best marina we could. So we dropped the fish farming and we sold all the flats, because we had a maintenance issue there, and straight away we managed to get an anchor, which is like a Michelin star for marinas, and we finished off with four anchors. I was one of the founding directors. We were not getting paid for anything; it was purely at our expense. Later, of course, we started paying the guys. I'm still involved. I'm now the Chairman of the Directors Remuneration Committee. I look at the accounts and decide if there is a rise or whatnot. Fortunately for us, there are 600–700 marinas in the UK, and the last two consecutive years we were voted the best marina in the UK.

Matties: That’s fantastic.

Rozario: That's another achievement, and it’s the thinking that anything you start you should always go for the best. That's a built-in thing, to not be satisfied by just having something, and then stop worrying about it.

Matties: So your advice to someone is that if you're going to do something, go for the best.

Rozario: So many people go into something and then back out. My belief is if you've got an idea of what you want to do, you’ve got to really believe in it 100%, and you go for it at any cost, whether you go down the first couple of times or not. Get up and start coming back again and you’ll make it. It's something that if you believe in it, you can create it. It's worked for me.

Matties: Not everyone has that sort of fortitude though. Special people are able to do this I think, but we see so many people fail, too.

Rozario: Sometimes it is because something changes their mind and they want to dive into something else. That's my life and my story and the story so far at Graphic. We are very confident and we've always been profitable. We could have been the largest, but to be large and big wasn't in my mind or our people’s here. Beautiful for us is the bottom line. Everybody who works at Graphic, that's what they're looking at. Every month my managing director brings in all the staff, a group at a time, and it's all open. He goes through everything that we have done, manufactured, and the wages and everything else and the cash there.

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