A 6-year-old Jack DeBoer’s first entrepreneurial move was to borrow money from his father to buy pansies and sell them door-to-door on Saturdays.
“I’ve always worked for myself,” said DeBoer, 84.
He said his drive is innate.
“The desire and the energy to keep on and keep pushing is something you’re born with,” he said. “You can’t learn that. You can force it … but it doesn’t come easy unless you’re born that way.”
At 17, DeBoer got his real estate license.
“That was a good way to make money,” he said.
He wanted a car, but his parents told him he had to buy a new vehicle and pay cash for it. By his sophomore year of college, he had “1,200 bucks” for a new two-door Chevrolet, which he then sold during the Korean War when people panicked that they wouldn’t be able to keep buying new cars.
“My mother cried. She knew I’d worked hard and saved money,” DeBoer said. “I said, ‘Well, I made a profit.’”
You can’t always find DeBoer at a desk – he’s just as likely to be on a trip somewhere around the world – but he said, “When you’re an entrepreneur … you work all the time. I mean, your brain is going all the time.”
DeBoer said he was lucky enough not to have to wait until age 65 to start working on a bucket list as some people do, so he doesn’t have one.
“I might just as well continue working,” he said. “Why not?”
Place of employment: Consolidated Holdings, which includes real estate, manufacturing, aviation, hotels and apartments
First job: Selling pansies at age 6
Best business advice he ever received: “Tell the truth and then you don’t have to have a memory.”
Best business advice he ever gave: “This whole thing about tell the truth … is pretty much at the top of the list. … You don’t have to tell everything.”