Canada’s Billionaire Businessman: How Schwartz Made Onex a Success
Schwartz is 66 years old this year but has no plans of slowing down. As Chairman and CEO of one of Canada’s most successful companies, Schwartz’s goals for the future remain the same as they have for the past quarter century: “More people. More transactions. Larger amounts of capital. Identical philosophy,” he says. How did this son of an auto-parts dealer become one of the Top Ten Wealth Creators in all of Canada?
Teamwork: One of the things Schwartz is most proud of when it comes to his company is the feeling of cooperation and teamwork throughout. Indeed, with no senior turnover, that spirit is one of the key push factors behind Onex’s success. “Everybody is a real partner,” he says. “And it makes a big difference.”
Patience: “Investments are like trains,” says Schwartz, “and if you miss one, don’t worry because another one will come down the line.” It was with that prudent and pragmatic attitude that Schwartz guided Onex through the many buyout frenzies to be one of the few remaining and most successful companies today.
Value: “We’ve got customers,” says Schwartz. “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.” Indeed, it was by looking past just the market conditions, and building up solid subsidiaries that Onex was able to create real value for its shareholders. He operated a business as if he were going to own it forever, and it was by doing so that he was able to turn it into something worth selling.
Risk: Schwartz did not get to where he is today by playing it safe. He invested in deals others advised him against, and he pulled out when others told him to stay. It was by taking calculated risks that he was able to profit where others before had not. But, it was also by learning from the risks he took, particularly the ones that failed, that Schwartz could better avoid them next time.
Pride: You may not know it to look at his global business operations, but Schwartz is a proud Canadian. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and staffed by Canadians, part of the strength of Onex has been the nationalist pride that runs through its corridors. They have loved being the underdog, and proving that they have what it takes to succeed in their native land.
Schwartz is proud of what he has accomplished so far, but says he has many years more to go. “I've got a long time. I've got a long time. I've got 25 to 30 years of this. Maybe longer,” he says. “As long as I am healthy, I’m not going to retire.” In the meantime, Schwartz says he has many plans for both his time and his wealth. “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.”
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