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Meet Mr EBIT

Troubleshooters Podcast
Troubleshooters Podcast
Meet Mr EBIT

Episode Description

Mark Holloway is a working class guy from Birmingham in England, who is not just football crazy, but is himself a very decent centre-forward. His life changes direction when Sydney Croatia spots him and bring him to Australia to play semi-professional football. At that point, this cryogenics engineer switches to sales and becomes a very effective troubleshooter, nicknamed Mr. EBIT, for his consistent ability to make profit! He then gets to work on building a very successful eyewear company. He is currently the owner and director of Shades of Pale-sourcing antiques for over 20 years in France, Belgium, Sweden & beyond.

About Mark

Mark Holloway is the owner and director of Shades of Pale- Sourcing antiques for over 20 years in France, Belgium, Sweden & beyond.

They specialise in French antiques, homewares, interiors, architectural & garden pieces. Follow them @shadesofpalestore on Instagram.

Contact Mark:

Points of interest

Life journey from football to eyewear entrepreneurship. (0:10)

Upbringing, sports, and business success. (1:21)

Career progression from engineering to sales management to business ownership. (3:16)

Leadership and company issues. (7:43)

Liquidation and survival in the fashion industry. (11:50)

Overcoming business challenges in the eyewear industry. (16:35)

Selling a business to a supplier. (21:13)

Business ownership and sale. (25:37)

Selling a business and transitioning to a new role. (31:17)

Turnarounds, brands, and entrepreneurship. (36:33)


Note: This has been automatically transcribed so is likely to have errors! It may however help you navigate the points of interests for you.

Mike: Welcome to the Troubleshooters podcast with me your host Mike McGrath. My guest today Mark Holloway has a great story working class lad from Birmingham in England, who is not just football crazy, but is himself a very decent centre-forward. His life changes direction when Sydney Croatia spots him and bring him to Australia to play semi-professional football. At that point, this cryogenics engineer switches to sales and becomes a very effective troubleshooter, nicknamed Mr. EBIT, for his consistent ability to make profit! He then gets to work on building a very successful eyewear company. So, sit back and listen as I delve into Mark’s fascinating story.

So, Mark, welcome to the podcast. Let’s go back a bit. So, you come from Birmingham, originally, working class sort of upbringing? Yeah, yep. Tell us about that. And you were mad on football. I mean, everybody was where I came from, say, my street in Solihull, you either supported Aston Villa or Birmingham City. And you played football all the time.

Mark: Exactly and that’s right, Michael. Well, I am from a working class background. You just mentioned Solihull. I came from Mutual’s there was a big difference there. So it was a classic, you know, terraced home, to up to down. My father was a mechanic. But he he had to take work as a truck driver in the end to you know, to make ends meet. Mom did two jobs. So it was a brother, one brother, two sisters. It was football was all really we had. And schooling took a second sort of position for me, which was a problem for my parents. Because all I was bothered about was football at that stage of my life. Yeah. So my parents at the age of 11 thought it was a good idea to send me to a Rugby School. But all all that did was was give me another sport to fall in love with so, I came a tragic rugby player and football, but football or soccer, as we call it here in Australia was my my first love. Yeah.

Mike: Okay. So look, just looking back before we move on, right? What did you get from your upbringing? And what did you get from sport? Right, that sort of set you up for this later success that you had in business? Yeah.

Mark: Look, Michael, it’s a good question. And I think it’s the root of my success anyway. And that was that I came from a terrific family. But you know, we had to get on with life, you know, we couldn’t be mollycoddled around, we just got on with things you learn to, to, to make the best of what you were given or what you what you had. And really, that’s it just basically looking at any opportunity to make it in life. Because that’s the background we came from in some

Mike: In some ways, you know, work gave you that you your career your football gave you that you kind of looking for that- How do I make a mark? How do I…

Mark: Well Michael you know, in football as well, you know, at any level of football, it’s, it’s your will to win, you’ve got to have the skills, you got to have the technique. But if you haven’t got that will to win and to succeed in sport in any sport. And it’s the same in your working career. You take that to your working career that will to win that will to succeed. get the deal done. That’s I guess that’s what gave me the edge, you know

Mike: So its the early 90s You’re working for BOC helium products. As a cryogenics. Manager. I looked up cryogenics this morning on Google. So for anyone who’s like me and hasn’t got a clue what cryogenics is, it’s a sort of physics thing about what you do with products and processes at extremely low temperatures. Is that right?

Mark: Thats right. That’s right. So every gas in the atmosphere liquefies at a certain temperature. And essentially, it’s about storing gas in bulk at a lower and a liquid form instead of a gas form. My

Mike: The first employee sent me to Salado College, to learn heating and ventilating. So engineering so it was basically this company were putting air conditioning units into banks and now the only people who could afford it and so I had to learn the physics of a heat pump and all the rest of it so yeah, and now their face fairly rudimentary, but back then it was, you know, air conditioning in the UK was to say it was a luxury, Brian was an understatement. So, so anyway, you get to this point where You’re the Product Manager at BOC, and then you move into, into eyewear. Right? So, and sales effectively. So walk me through that, that because that’s a big jump, that seems like a big jump to me,

Mark: I made a decision to change the direction of my career. I guess to some extent, I was getting stale in an engineering type environment in a in a corporate environment. So the company Carrera, the eyewear company career, which was a big brand worldwide in those days and still is advertised for position as sales manager, and I applied for that successfully got the job. So it was a changing career, but it’s something that I wanted to do. It’s something that I made that decision to, I’d already been in sales and marketing. So I was in sales and marketing, so that that skill was there. But it was just a different industry. And I needed that, you know, and, you know, coming from an engineering business into a fashion business, which is what I wear is it’s all about fashion now is a massive jump, but it’s one that I that I wanted to take and, you know, thankfully it succeeded, you know,

Mike: so you’ve got that technical engineering specifics. And then you move into sales, right? Is that innate? Could you get on with people? I mean, how did you become successful at sales.

Mark: So really, the engineering side exactly, as you said, when I did my apprenticeship, when he got into sort of engineering, business, I always had a good way of communicating as all good salespeople do. So I knew I had that skill. I also had good training in that sales area at BSC, before I left on this a cleat an old cliche, I’m a people’s person I like to. But that’s basically what it’s all about. If you can’t, if you can’t put a deal together and get on with customers and sales, and you know, you’re in the wrong business, if that’s the career you choose in sales. But for me, it was a great guy a great fit, you know, like that,

Mike: you know, the many people that listen to this podcast, who are not perhaps owning their own business yet, you know, perhaps they’ve got a corporate career, but all of a sudden, see you’re working, how did you move into into a situation where you ultimately became not just the boss, but an owner of of a business,

Mark: essentially, then I got the position of sales manager for Carrera eyewear company in Australia, we worldwide it was the biggest eyewear company, or I should say frame manufacturer worldwide. So I got that position. It didn’t take me very long, while I was in that position, to realize there were problems within the company, not just locally, I wasn’t too happy with the way the local company was being run. But I could see that there was a worldwide issue with this and that they had, you know, some big issues with the company in terms of production in terms of styling of the frames, and in terms of how they controlled this stock. They were also number one in Australia, and they, they they acted like a number one. And when you do that you very, very quickly, you know, fall off the off that level. So, so what happened then is I was asked to go to Austria where the head office was to a meeting, which I thought was a marketing meeting. In fact, it was an interview, to interview me for the Managing Directors role, which they offered me. And the first thing I had to do when I got back was fire the existing Managing Director, and, and the general manager. So they threw me in at the deep end there. But yeah, they obviously identified something in me that they saw that I could run an organization like

Mike: hat. So there’s the opportunity, isn’t it, you’re beavering away, you’re doing the right thing. And and someone spots something really outside your control that in a way, right? Completely opportunistic. You did’t engineer that. And then suddenly Opportunity Knocks? That’

Mark right. Exactly. And look, there was risk associated with that. I mean, I was very comfortable. As a sales manager, I could have just cruised through life doing that job to take that position, the first managing director ship hub that I’d been offered those risks associated there as well. But you have to take that chance. Sometimes you must be confident in your ability to do that job.

Mike: It’s a very good point that and it’s something that I see repeating all over the place, very rarely does that opportunity. Come gilt edged with no risk, right? Those opportunities that emerge, they’re generally covered in shit, you know, as to use a crude metaphor. So that’s the role of a troubleshooter really isn’t to say, Okay, there’s a problem. There are some problems here, how can I make it better? How can I fix it, I

Mark: could see the local problems at that stage. And I could see a way that I could fix some of those problems, if not all of them. But I was, I wasn’t there at that stage, aware of the worldwide problems that the company had, which again, that’s the risk. I saw the local risk, and I thought I could fix this. But of course, I couldn’t fix the worldwide one because within six months of being in the position, I got to work on a Tuesday morning or whatever it was at eight o’clock, and there was a fax waiting for me that those were the days of faxes by the way.


Remember it? Well, yeah,

Mark: it was a fax. You know, waiting for me saying that the company had appointed liquidators.

Mike: is that right? So, the worldwide group decided they were going to liquidate the local or the or they liquidate?

Mark: No, no, no, no, but not local, though. on a worldwide basis. The problem

Mike: is that right? So you had huge systemic problems. And, and so you just got swept up locally, no matter how well you were doing.

Mark: Exactly. Right. Yeah. Okay. And it was obvious after a while of going through the, the whole process to see that our local problems were multiplied 17 Times in, they had 17, worldwide, worldwide distributors of which we were the Australian one, but that, that the local problem we had was everywhere.

Mike: That’s interesting, in a nutshell, then. So what were those issues? What are they? What are they messed up?

Mark: I could, I could talk for three hours on the issues, but I’ll give you the main ones. Yeah, give us the top three, like every distribution business, your sins are in your warehouse. You know, it’s amazing. So what the company would do, and this is one of the problems, one of the largest problems, I think he’s they would send stock to us, they didn’t run forecasts on what we would be selling or this. So the manager would order stock, and they would send it to us now, that stock would get that stock would sit in in the warehouse until till it was sold, when it was sold, what we would do is we would we would put a price on that that, let’s say that frame, and we would let’s say we did put a wholesale of $100 on that frame, when we sold it, they would invoice us 45% Cost of Goods, so they would invoice us $45 For that frame. Now, it’s a fashion business. So after six months, when that frame was no longer in fashion, or the color had gone out of fashion. If we have to sell that at 50%, you know, discount, they will still charge $45. So they never, they never devalued the stock so that the local company could get it and sell it and recover that that.

Mike: Okay, so I can see that. That’s problem number one. And that compounds month after month, year after year, we call those slobs for the uninitiated, exactly. Slow and obsolete. Big problem all over the place.

Mark: What it meant was that when a frame couldn’t be sold for the normal wholesale, that the manager at the time would just put it in boxes and put it on the rafters and just leave it there because it wasn’t worth him selling Okay, he might as well sell something he could make money after there’s

Mike: Normally a day of reckoning and the day of reckoning was out to appoint a liquidator basically. And

Mark: when they did, Michael we had hundreds of 1000s of frames. We were a very, very good manufacturer, you know, worldwide we were the best. It was a beautiful product. We had 1000s of frames sitting in boxes, zero value on the books. I mean, they were just nobody even knew. Nobody even knew how many there were they nobody knew when the when the liquidators came in and the liquidator actually purchased the subsidiaries. He didn’t have a clue that this stock was on the shelves. And essentially selling that stock is how we survived because if I can just broaden on this what we did is we brought that stock down we put we go all the reps took that stock out in the cars, and then we’re selling it for like 5060 and $70 a piece this is Christian you’re healthy. Alfred Dunhill Hugo Boss Sama.

Mike: How did it work? So you’re the MD In Australia, right? You get a fax. For those who don’t know, it’s like a letter but it comes through a machine right? On curly paper. And if you keep it for long enough feel the ankle or wrist. Right? Yeah. Okay. So so you get the facts that says big problem, were liquidated, right? And then what do you do like I mean, you then jumped to selling the stock. So big problem. How did you troubleshoot it? How did you get to the next stage?

Mark: Okay, well, well, we realized the company had sort of gone into liquidation. I didn’t tell any of the stuff at that stage. Obviously, there was a purchaser. The guy who liquidated the company was the guy that bought the subsidiary. So he quickly came to Sydney told us what his thoughts were, that he wanted us to go out and get other brands, you know, other sort of fashion brands. Okay,

Mike: so it was liquidated, but one of the owners or is it a separate owner was going to buy it out? The subsidiaries out of liquidation?

Mark: Yeah, so essentially the guy, the guy Dr. Mohler, Michael Mahler, his name was he was an Austrian guy. Yeah, he was the liquidator Okay, he bought for $1, all of the subsidiaries of 17. subsidiaries, okay. And the stock that was sitting in them, he didn’t know what was there, of course,

Mike:  ‘m sure you can’t do that in Australia, but maybe you can do that in Australia. I’m sure a liquidator car can do that here.

Mark: He was, I don’t know how he technically got around that issue. The reason but he was the guy that liquidate it

Mike: sounds like he’s a troubleshooter, we should get him on.

Mark: he was Yeah, terrific guy. Yeah. So he actually came, visited us and said, We’ve got to get out and get new brands. Well, that’s, that’s easier said than done when they’re fashion brands. Because as you know, fashion brands like we had dill, Hugo Boss, all those brands, they’ve got distributors for the next 10 year, you know, 10 years into the future. So we were lucky enough to associate ourselves with a French company called Lammi. That hadn’t got a distributor in in Australia. So, I quickly had a meeting with them. And we established that we could get some of their key brands. They had brands like Nina Ricci, Lacoste, a few others that we thought we could make a business out of. I made a business plan. They told Michael Mala, the guy that bought the company, that it would take at least three years to break even Of course, we had to, we went when we liquidated we had a $15 million turnover with a $4 million base. The day after I received that that sorry, cost base that $4 million was the day after I received that fax, we had a zero turnover with a $4 million dollar cost base. So, we had to do something very, very quickly. So obviously, I had to reduce costs drastically. But the one thing I did, Michael was, we were we were a good distributor because we had great reps. And one of course, he you know Chris Hanley was my sales manager. Okay, yeah. So we kept the team together, cost us a little bit, but we got rid of loads of admin costs, but we kept the team we reduced our warehouse size, everything, but we kept the sales reps because they were the connection our cataract customers,

Mike: and basically, Mr. Mueller, bonded that city. Yes, he

Mark: did. But we also funded it with him because we sold the stock that he didn’t know he had on the raft.

Mike: Okay. Okay. You sold that to cash. I will tell

Mark: You have a funny story about that. Because one of the other managers, one of the other managers of the subsidiary called me, I won’t tell you who and I won’t tell you our country, but he called me and he says, I said, Mark, he said, how are you doing? I said, I said, Listen, we’re doing okay, I said, you know, all that stock, the sun, the rafters, I said that nobody knew was there. He said, yeah. I said, well, I’ve got the reps out with the cars, they’re selling it. You know, we’re getting, we’re covering their costs with this. I said, how are you doing with that? He said, are you kidding? He said, “I bought a Porsche 911 with that and put a deposit on.

Mike: Okay, so basically, you were selling your stock and funding the business for a future, and he was selling him pocketing it. Okay. No wonder you didn’t want to give me his name. Okay, gotcha. That’s

Mark: how we that’s how we overcome those first 18 months of having no broth. Well, the first 12 months, at least, of having no brands selling stock with that nobody knew. Okay,

Mike: at that point, you’re the end. You’ve got problems all over the place, you begin to solve them. You use the opportunities that they’re not least of which the, the basis for the downfall became the new company salvation. Really, how do you how did you deal yourself in this situation? Well, you’re just an employee at that point at

Mark: that point. Yeah, I saw I’m still an employee. Yeah. What happened then is we had a meeting, I think, in Paris, after we’d got all the subsidiaries out to meet after we’d got new brands. There’s another funny story I’ll tell you.

Mike: You have a lot of meetings in fancy places in the eyewear business Austria, Paris.

Mark: I’ll tell you about that because we had the meeting and even though I associated and got distribution rights for this French A company called lamina, Australia, which was asked was going to be our Savior. And indeed it turned out that I still couldn’t give Michael a break even inside three years. So I still said he’s going to, you know, this a three year break even at best. So we were in a meeting with all the other 17 subsidiaries and it was in Paris and I said to Michael, I said, Listen, you said interviewed us all one by one. And I said, Michael, I said, it’s going to be three years minimum. I said, if I were you, I, I, I’d cash in and liquidate and cash in, and I’ll try and do my best Austrian accent here with his reply. So I said to Michael, I said, Look, I would at best cash in and take your cash out. And he said, Mark, he said, I can see your point. He said, I could take plenty of cash, he said, but if we if we do that, we have no more reason to come to Paris.

Mike: Okay, he’s out. He said what he said. Sounds like a great bloke, actually, actually, that is the best Austrian accent I’ve ever heard of spoken by a Brummie!

Mark:: But that was the answer he gave me, and I wasn’t going to argue anymore. You know, okay. Okay. All the other stuff, all the other six days of salaries, subsidiaries said, you know, we’re going to succeed, we’re going to do this. And they were telling me in coffee meetings that we’re just buying another six months of the job, you know, that we were the only company in the end to succeed and to, to work through Michael to sell the business all the risk closed down.

Mike: Okay. So, at that point he wanted you to bet on, he obviously liked what you were doing. You’re the MD you’re running your own show, but it’s, but he owns it. 100% of

Mark: that. That’s right. That’s right. What happened then Michael, is we after three years, and I said to Michael, it was going to be a three-year minimum breakeven, we were looking at still maybe another 12 to 18 months. So, Michael was Michael at that stage, you know, II is worldwide business or died because all the other 16 subsidiaries had gone. He just wanted to get out. So, we already become the big distributor, a big distributor for Lammi, the manufacturer 80% of our stock was coming from them. So I said to Michael, we should do a strategic site sell out sale to our biggest supplier. So, I went to Michael’s office, which is another nice place Mike is in Vienna, how can I we did a business plan and that business plan then we put to Lamine, we met them in a meet up in the meeting in Geneva. So

Mike: We’re all over the place.

Mark: We presented. the plan. Okay. And it was a beautiful plan, you know, I think it was a put 12 months to 18 months, breakeven, essentially, they were selling, they were selling us their stock. So they were already making money out of us at wholesale cost value to wholesale.

Mike: Okay, so it made sense. It was a sort of synergistic deal. You couldn’t really sell to anyone else. They own 85% of the, you know, they got 85% of the business.

Mark: That’s right, exactly. Right. So, it was a strategic sale to them, they were buying a distributor that was, you know, distributing they didn’t want us to, they didn’t want us to close down. They were doing good business in Australia, you know, at that stage, so essentially, we were at the meeting and everything went well. And then the young guy, who was at the meeting with us very, very switched-on operator called Joel fried rich. He said to me, he said, Mark, he said it’s a good plan. He said, he said, I think we’re interested in this. He said, but I’ll give you I’ll give you the deal. He said, the deal is this, we buy X percentage, but the price we’re talking about here in the plan, but you buy into it and X percentage also. Okay. He said if we do if you agree to do that, we go up the mountain to the factory, and we sign heads of agreement and share the mountain. If we don’t, we go to the airport, and we go our own separate ways. Is that right? Okay. Well, at that stage, Michael, I don’t know whether it’s because I’m an Englishman or not, is us but it wasn’t high on my bucket list to be a minor shareholder in a French family run business. So, I said to Michael, in the meeting

Mike: today and say no more, say no more. The Australians listening wont, understand that but any pommies will get it straightaway.

Mark: So essentially, I said to Michael, we went in another room. I said, Listen, I’m not going to I’m not investing my money in this plot. I like the plan, but I don’t like it that much. And so Michael knew that if the deal didn’t go through, he’d have to close down so he preferred to get a result. So, if he finance me into my shareholding, essentially,

Mike: isn’t that great? So that there’s another great example, which is, you know, you keep plugging away Doing the right thing by everyone. And then and then eventually you get another break day. And the break is that I’m going to deal you in, what kind of percentage? Was it? Because the number of interesting things 25%. Okay, so you know, suddenly you become a 25% shareholder in a business, you know, really well, the suppliers are going to fund it. So, you get another roll of the dice, don’t you?

Mark: exactly right. Exactly. Right. So, it was obviously with Michael funding, he was it was a win. It was a no loss situation, essentially. Okay,

Mike: so now you’re a 25%, shareholder, this, and this business in Australia? And what do you do then?,

Mark: Well the business was going well, then we were supported more when you’re when you’re a wholly owned subsidiary, which we were then of Lammi, lamea, in France, then they give you, you know, you get better stock control, you get better deliveries, you get better pricing, and this at the other, one of the things that was very good, we became very profitable. And I did that by negotiating very, very, sort of, in a very tough way with the French brand managers, because, you know, it’s the way we are, we have to negotiate a deal. Now, in the end, our EBIT was the highest EBIT within the group. So I didn’t realize at the time that they called me in the French head office and the manager and the owner mark, Lammi called me Mr. EBIT

Mike: is that right? Mr EBIT?

Mark: This worked against me, because when all the brand managers found out that the owner of the company so called me, Mr. Ruby, they hated it, they beat them, your kind of be jealous. So okay, then they started to kill me in the negotiations trying to get a better pricing product.

Mike: So, for the uninitiated, Mr. EBIT is Earnings before interest and tax EBIT earnings. So basically, you were Mr. Profit. You were making you were making more money than anyone else. Yes.

Mark: For a few years. Yeah, for a few years.

Mike:  And then they got the hang of this. That’s right. It got to the brand managers, who were all friendship assume yes, yeah. And then they started to get into about and negotiate harder? Well,

Mark: they did, though, of course, they’re going back to the English French thing they weren’t happy with, with me being, you know, up there with the highest debits so they really started to go hard on me, you know, and I had some pretty hostile meetings with them, you know, but in the end, look, of course, we found a happy medium, we still continued, you know,

Mike: and you didn’t mention about the version cool or anything like that. Did you know? So, things are going well, you’ve, you’re making money, you’re delivering the plan. You’ve got good owners, they’re really 75% You live in in a great country. So, what’s not to like? So

Mark: yeah, as you say, things were going really well. And then And then Mark Lammy, because it was still privately owned, made a decision to sell the company to a company called TWC, which were a very wealthy French family organization again, but they were a big watch distributor. In fact, they still are TWC, they were part of the LVMH group, which is a big that one of the big brand, you know, factor, you know, luxury brand groups, I should say, at the time, they were part of that group. So we thought it was going to be good, we thought we’re going to get leads into big brands. One thing Michael, me didn’t do, he didn’t cut me into the deal. So in other words, you didn’t give me the option to sell, which, which I wasn’t happy about at the time.

Mike: So effectively Lammi said, Look, we’re going to sell, was it just the Australian business? Or was it not our worldwide they said, okay, so I’ve actually decided to sell Lommy. And so effectively, that meant your 25% Would it was going to get swept up in whatever the transaction was. Exactly,

Mark: exactly. So. So as a minor shareholder, again, you know, I was told that the company had been sold with no option to sell my shares. Of course, when you’re dealing in this type of business with an owner, that’s, you know, half a world away, they always want you to have your skin in the game. So, Mark Lammy knew that TWC weren’t going to be keen on the purchase if I wasn’t continuing as a shareholder and managing director in the business. So that’s why they never cut me in on that deal. But anyway, look, sat tight TWC took over, they didn’t understand the difference between an optical frame and a watch. There’s a whole hell of a lot more things in the fit of an optical frame

Mike: can imagine leaving, I know that, but the

Mark: thought it was just a matter of putting a brand name on the side of a frame and it would sell and that’s just not what it is, you know. So you know, we began to find tougher and tougher times, you know, a prophet was sliding, and it wasn’t going that well. And I then had a meeting with the owners of TWC. And I told them again, I said they needed to consider at that, at that stage, I should have mentioned that our biggest supplier has become an Italian company that had very good brands called the rego which is the owner now. Okay, they were then at that stage 80% of our of our sales. In other words, their product was exactly the same as what Lammi were before. So I advised the owners again,

Mike: I’ve got an idea what’s coming now,

Mark: I advise the owners to sell strategically to TWC. So again, we prepared a business plan. I’m not going to tell you where this were on this one, but we prepared the plan to sell to the Dorrigo. But the rego again, I was very well, you know, I had very good sort of associations and communication with Riga their manager. guy called Vittorio was looking over the sale, we put it together. And then TWC wanted out at that stage big time, right. And, and I had a call option on my shares, but they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t pay me. Alright, so they said I had to be paid locally. So in a way to generate the cash to pay me so when I generated the cash, the rego then stuff put through for the sale. So they wanted to buy the price was there. The deal was done, I had to go to Hong Kong to do the deal. But I still am being paid for my shares. So what I did is I called them and I’ll tell you what I did, I called them and I said, I’ve got to get on plane tomorrow at nine o’clock to sell the business. And they were very happy about this. The TWC managers were Yeah, great. That’s good.

Mike: Like they were a TWC based again, they’re, they’re based in Paris, in France and in Paris. So they’re French as well. Okay.

Mark: So, I said, I’ve got to get on the plane tomorrow at nine o’clock to go and so you know, we’re doing the sale of the company. And they were very happy. I said, but I’m not going to get on the plane, unless I’ve got a letter from you, authorizing me to pay my shares to the board. So, if when I wake up in the morning, if I don’t see an email, giving me authority to pay myself my share capital for my shares, that I don’t get on the plane, and they don’t buy this company without me staying as managing director. So and also what was what was good about that deal is their ego didn’t want a shareholding partnership. So they want you to 100% but they wanted me in the business for a minimum of two years. So, when I got up in the morning, the letter was they’re telling me to pay myself are

Mike: gray. And so, we’d move from faxes to emails at that point. And was that? Sure, live in the fax machine, wasn’t it? Yeah. You got your email, and you got your cash?

Mark: Yeah, I’ve got my cash here. Because if I’d have sold the company without that there was no way they wouldn’t pay me.

Mike: And so I presume that was a good result. Boy, yeah. It was an

Mark:  it was an excellent result. Yeah, it was. Because I was at a stage in my life as well, where I wanted to probably, you know, step aside, I’d been running the business for 25 years. I thought it was a time for you know, new fresh ideas to come in. I needed you to know, to sort of a new challenge as well I’d been running an antique business on the side which was which was doing very, very well. And so I it fitted me as well. So I had a two year contract with the rego after the sale. And, and then I trained my marketing manager to come in and take over as a general manager’s position, you know,

Mike: great, that’s a happy ending and you got the chance to step down then which you wanted to do. That’s right. That’s right. I know that entrepreneurs never retire so I bet you any money that you didn’t finish up there then so what did you do then?

Mark: You’re right, actually my what, what, over the over 20 years my partner at the time had been at started an antique business bringing we’d bring lots of beautiful sort of, you know, sort of modern sort of antiques, not the old dark stuff, but really with beautiful patina we’re bringing over from France Belgium Spain, Italy in 40 foot containers and we had the we’ve got a retail business called Shades of pale, which has gone very well. Unfortunately, in 2017 Sadly, my wife passed away but her daughter, my stepdaughter, Bella has been running that had been running the business with her and she wanted to continue. So it’s it was a an, you know, an amazing transition from her mom. She had obviously lost her mom, which was very sad. She’s done an amazing job. We’ve just relocated our business into Leichhardt from northbridge our stores in north bridge into Leichardt into a into a space three times as big as what we had. And it’s just that it’s gone from strength to strength. Yeah. Okay.

Mike:  And you’re helping her obviously. And she’s clearly a chip off the old block. So she’s got a bit of talent, isn’t she?

Mark: She has Yeah, mom was very creative, and Bella’s just excelled. I can’t, I can’t believe that she’s excelled in the position. Of course, it was, again, it was a risk. Because whilst Bella was working in the shop, of course, her mom was doing most of the creative, creative stuff. Not all of it Bella was involved. But when Bella said to me, “I want to, you know, I’d like to continue it, it was a risk on me. I could have I could have closed down and we could have taken the cash out or hopefully the three was those cash there. But it was a risk again, but you know, we took that risk, and it’s really, really done. Well.

Mike: You know, that’s a fascinating story. Mark, I’m so grateful that you’ve taken the time to speak with us today in terms of some of the lessons out of that, I suppose one of the lessons that strikes me is turnarounds are difficult, aren’t they? I mean, you talk about three years and then anatomy skin was nearly a five-year turnaround. Yes. Even with good owners, and yes, enough capital, it’s not easy, is it a turnaround,

Mark:  it’s not it’s not and the things you don’t think are going to be so important to a turnaround they are and that is when you’ve got strong brands you’ve got to your organization that’s had strong brands then to lose that and try and turn it around with brands that are not as strong it’s a time thing you know, it’s a time and you’ve got to have owners and people investors with deep pockets and that’s also another lesson always double the amount of time somebody tells you what the rounds going to be.

Mike: Isn’t that true? That is the truth yet I mean twice as much and three times as long. That’s right, typically, Mark there’s no doubt you’re an arch Troubleshooter. Thanks so much. And again, we really appreciate it. And look, we might even get you back one day and you can tell us how the antique business is going?

Mark: no problem. And if anybody wants to have a look at the store, just look at Shades of pale store on Instagram.

Mike: I’ll make sure that links in the show notes thanks a million again Mark all the best cheers Michael

Mark:  Up of the villa

Mike: Up the villa. Well, there you have it, how to create something out of nothing by simply being useful and constructive. Mark’s ability to help solve other people’s problems eventually allowed him to share in some of the success you’ve created. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please be sure to leave a like and tell your friends. Quick shout out to our sponsors Oasis partners, corporate advice with a practical bias. So if you want great representation, when it comes time for you to exit, call the guys in Oasis 500 Plus successful deals and counting. So until next time, stay safe

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