Entrepreneurship Lessons from a Banana Tycoon, Samuel Zemurray
Samuel Zemurray, known in America as the Banana Man, made his first fortune with ripe bananas, i.e those that major fruit traders felt that they arrive in good condition at the outlets and they were just abandoned.
When Zemurray, a young Russian immigrant, first noticed the sad pile of ripe bananas, about 1895, in the port of Mobile, Alabama, said there was a chance. By 1903, it was a small mogul, with $ 100,000 in the bank.
From there, Sam entered fully into the banana industry. In 1909, he went to Honduras, where he bought and cleared large tracts of virgin forest and, later, with the help of an army of mercenaries hired in New Orleans. He raised a company of elite banana and finally took control of United Fruit in 1932. For when he died, in 1961, in the grandest house in New Orleans, had been carrier, cowboy, farmer, businessman, revolutionary, philanthropist and CEO.
Sam’s adventures basic lessons emerge, rules that allowed him to see the gold mine that were in the first pile of rotting bananas.
1. See for yourself . When Sam decided to become banana producer, moved to the jungle in Honduras. He planted the stems, walked the fields and boats loaded with bananas. I thought that was his main advantage over United Fruit executives (UF), the giant that led the market and against which he fought for over a decade. UF was bigger, but it was operated from an office in Boston. Zemurray, however, was in the field; understand their employees, how they felt, what they feared and what they believed.
2. Do not try to be smarter than the problem. In the late 1920s, UF and the company sought to acquire the same Sam fertile ground on the border between Honduras and Guatemala. However, the earth seemed to have two legitimate owners, one in Honduras and one in Guatemala. While UF hired lawyers and commissioned studies to determine who was the true owner simply bought Zemurray twice, once to each owner. A simple problem deserves a simple solution.
3. Do not rely on the experts. In the 30s, hit by the Great Depression, attended UF experts to design an action plan. Zemurray, who at the time was the largest shareholder of UF, went instead to the captains, who told him that they had been asked to reduce speed on their trips to save fuel. When Zemurray assumed control of the company instead ordered them to slow their boats, make fewer trips. In six months, shares of UF, which had fallen from U.S. $ 100 to U.S. $ 10, took off at $ 50.
4. Money can always go back, but the reputation is lost forever . Early in his career, teamed with UF Zemurray received money and help to distribute your product, he, in turn, the company offered the use of their boats. One year, when workers went on strike in Nicaragua and blocked the country’s rivers, UF broke the lock Zemurray craft, painted with the logo of your company. That made him a hated man in Nicaragua and was convinced that he should dissolve his company, no matter how much he had gained from UF A person who does not control his name and image has nothing.
5. If in doubt, do something! bought UF Zemurray When, in 1932, the company was on the brink of the abyss. The price of its stock was near zero and losing their best employees. Zemurray traveled to Central and South America, meeting with workers to hear their ideas. The boys need to know that there is a person in charge. If you think you know what you are doing, then you will anywhere, he said.