Roman Rezac is a prolific South African retail entrepreneur with 25 years experience in a constantly evolving environment. He was an International knee-board surfer before he made his passion for beach lifestyle into a career. He opened his first Surf store in 1993 in Durban with borrowed capital and with hard work and perseverance he opened his second store two years later. Travelling around the world exposed him to the changing landscape and he opened his first surf concept store in Cape Town in 2000. He was a straight-talking, uber-confident deal-maker that understood the importance of partnerships and agreements and this resulted in him opening 28 stores over 20 years, all self-funded. He has partnered with Billabong, Hurley, Rip curl, O’Neill and Volcom among others to the benefit of both parties. Today he continues to retail in Durban having sold most of his retail operations to brand partners. He continues to surf and explore new opportunities. I caught up with Roman this month on a recent trip to Cape Town.
I Am Driven By | They say success comes more naturally when you enjoy what you do. My hobby became my career when I opened my first store. As the beach culture became more popular, it led to new opportunities to grow my retail stores around the country. This resulted in a new passion – negotiating deals. Whether it was for space or getting favourable terms, my life became about cutting the deal. It became a bit of an addiction because the feeling of accomplishment after getting what you want was very gratifying. 28 stores in 20 years tells a story.
I think my ‘MAGIC’ come from | Confidence in what I do. Personality and belief in the deal. The more enthusiastic you are the more people are drawn to you and what you say.
The Difference Between Good and Great | Desire, commitment, perseverance and attitude. It’s all in the pitch of how you sell your story. People are drawn to perception and presentation. No one is inventing the wheel in our game. But being able to tell and sell the concept that ‘my wheel is better than yours’ is what separates the good from the great.
The Characteristics Of Success | Integrity and honesty at all cost. The business wheel turns, so you always want to stay on the right side of your business partners. Communication is important as it creates trust and understanding of what is happening and how to fix the issues. Your attitude will always determine an outcome.
Principles I Live By | Integrity, honesty, a moral compass. Keep a balanced life and know that whatever you accumulate, you can’t take with you when it’s your time.
Critical Skills I Develop | Open discussions about the business relationship. Honesty and commitment to the business partners. Attitude and enthusiasm when dealing with all your business interests. All this filters down to your staff, your customers and your suppliers.
My biggest Weakness | Buying new Cars was my reward for cutting a new deal. It justified and validated my accomplishment. But in hindsight was always a costly indulgence.
Lessons I Have Learnt | Everything evolves. It can’t stay good forever. (or bad). Create balance between your business life and your personal life. Work to live , don’t live to work.
Dealing With Doubt and Fear | I don’t think successful entrepreneurs doubt or fear – I definitely didn’t. I think many of us are arrogant with so much self-belief in what we do that a problem is merely an obstacle that you either bulldoze over or go around. Whenever I encountered issues that effected growth and forward momentum, I always knew there was a solution.
Balancing high performance with Happiness and Contentment | My lifestyle was the picture of contentment because of my passion for what I did. But there is a saying – how much is enough? We always tend to look at what we don’t have because we are all surrounded by bigger success stories than our own. Inevitably you chase what you don’t need but you won’t realize this until you wobble.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | Surround yourself with people from an early age. Among these people will come Titans of industry who will move the world for you when needed, generally at no cost. Sometimes money can’t buy you what you want, but good relationships will open that door.