Chit Chat: Spencer Shaw

2011-03-25 16:39

Spencer Shaw might not be a name you recognise immediately, but he is setting the food and beverage industry on fire by acquiring brands such as Lotus Vodka SA, Big Burger and Hooters. FARRAH FRANCIS manages to catch up with him.

You’re only 29, yet you’ve achieved so much. Tell us how?

I guess it boils down to making a lot of sacrifices initially – when your mates are out on a Friday night and there I am putting ­business plans together, trying my hardest not to succumb to the pressure.

Mainly, though, I have surrounded myself with good, honest people I can trust, which is so important.

Having a good support structure is vital to anyone’s success. Systems and controls are my game and if you have that right, you can make a hotdog stand a very profitable business.

I also strive to be number one because to me second is the abbreviation of loser. (Ha ha!)

Your portfolio involves fun industries and swag in the form of the model agency you own. Why did you go that route?

I was raised in the hospitality industry. My father, Stuart Shaw, was a very successful businessman and one of the directors of Sun ­International.

You don’t get more swag than a casino so I guess its just in the blood.

After the controversy of the “Sushi King”, is SA ready for a “Hooters King”?
(Laughs). Well they better be ­because I’m here to stay and have an effect. I don’t know about “king” though, tycoon has more “swag” as you put it.

Have you ever modelled or been told you’ve got model looks?
Yes I have modelled and still do, so yes I’ve been told I’ve got model looks. My friends are going to mock me for that.

Do you think those looks have worked for you?

Sjoe! Have the looks worked for me? When it comes to doing business deals it doesn’t matter what you look like; it’s all about converting what’s ticking in your brain to words.

Then obviously having the guts to follow through with what that hamster in the head comes up with.

Was there ever a time when you doubted yourself and thought about pulling a nine-to-fiver?

(Laughs) What’s a nine-to-fiver? Like I said, I strive to be number one so failing is never an option for me. I will work and work and work till I achieve my goals.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Surround yourself with good ­people. A quote from Richard Branson.

Which of the great business leaders do you look up to and why?

My dad is my business role model, but I like the old-school business leaders like Warren Buffet and Ted Turner. I love their
business models and class.

Where do you think you got your business savvy from?

Definitely from my father; when I came home from school holidays we spoke about gross profits and tax – not your average father-son conversations.

I was like a sponge around him soaking up everything he said.

I even tried to replicate the way he was around people.

Do you think one has more opportunities if they come from a well-off family and studied in private schools?
Yes, I do. It certainly is a benefit being in the right circles and ­having good backing, but that ­only gets you so far.
When you’re in the big bad ­business world no one really Hgives two shoes where you are from or how much money daddy has!

What are your luxury splurges?

I love toys and shoes. I’ve got all the toys. Bikes, jetskis, cars, paintball guns, gadgets you name it. And I own 100 pairs of shoes or maybe more.

Penthouse or suburban home?

Playmate model or career ­woman?

I am dating a model.

Business advice to aspiring ­entrepreneurs?
Never ever give up and never let people tell you that you can’t do something. Be prepared for all the negativity and jealousy that comes with ­success. You need to block it out because it’s only another hurdle in your journey to success. I’m a good hurdler! (Ha ha!)

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