…back to Part 5 – Retailing is Entertainment
Defining Moment: A New Beginning
For most people, that would mark the end of their career—but not for Marvin Traub. He wasn’t ready for retirement. “I have an enormous belief that businessmen will stay younger and a lot sharper if they find new careers after they leave their initial one.” So in early 1992, at the age of 67, Marvin embarked on the second phase of his career by starting his own consulting company, Marvin Traub Associates (MTA).
Marvin started with a list of blue-chip clients—Federated, Ralph Lauren, American Express and Jones New York—and promised each of them one week per month. “But then when I took a fifth client, I found I could no longer promise everyone a week a month! So I stopped promising specific amounts of my time.”
Marvin’s business grew in revenues and scope throughout the 90s. Marvin worked both as a consultant and a venture capitalist—MTA bought struggling home furnishings company Conran’s Habitat for a dollar. “We tried to turn it around. We didn’t, but we sold off the real estate.” As MTA’s ventures grew, Marvin moved the company in with an investment banking and financial services company called Financo, where Marvin served as a Senior Advisor and ran his consulting business separately.
By 2004, Marvin’s consulting practice was growing quickly, so he took what he considers to be another defining decision in his career—and embarked on a third exciting phase of his storied career.
“I left Financo a year ago and formed my own company with two very bright young people—Mortimer Singer and Elizabeth Block—who are both in their late 20s. They help keep me young and involved.”
As his days with Bloomingdale’s would suggest, Marvin is a fervent believer in building strong teams. True to form, he’s done the same at MTA, which today boasts an unusual concept for consulting firms—a team of consultants who have tremendous experience in running companies. A visit to the MTA website reveals a list of former chairmen, CEOs and presidents that includes the former chairman of Neiman Marcus, the former CEOs of Sears, Circuit City, Laura Ashley, Filene’s, and former presidents of Bergdorf Goodman, QVC, HSN, Dior, Armani, Anne Klein, and the CBS Network—just to name a few.
“We have experts in various fields and we have clients all over the world. My new company is aimed at the global economy. I guess a decision I made early on in my career was that I wanted to be involved in things globally. Whether I did country promotions in Asia or sent buyers, my own travels or sent my children abroad, I’ve always been very much a believer in the opportunities around the world. MTA has clients in 12 countries and has 16 people as consultants and a staff of 10 full-time employees. We also manage two cosmetics companies that we own substantial equity in.”
Today, at 80, Marvin’s days are as busy as ever. At the time of this writing, Marvin had just signed on with Donald Trump to help market a Trump vodka with Drinks Americas—and on that occasion, Marvin received praise from The Donald himself. Upon completing the negotiations, Trump said, “Marvin Traub is the finest retailer in the world and I am proud to work with him.”
On the international front, Marvin has just finished a major project in Lebanon, and is working with a leading luxury goods retailer in Moscow, planning a Harvey Nichols store opening in Dubai, working with a major retailer in Athens, and is very heavily involved in China and India. In fact, Marvin recently opened a new company in India—a joint venture—to brings brands to India. “We are in the process of raising a good deal of money to operate it. And if we’re right it will be a very substantial business.”
And there’s no retirement in sight for Marvin. “I’m very fortunate in that the energy I talked about earlier is still with me and I have always enjoyed the challenges. In this third career, I’ve been given the opportunity to work all over the globe with young people. I was in Paris and London last week and met with different people I’ve known to talk about different projects. I came back from London on Saturday night, played in a golf tournament on Monday and yesterday I got up at 5:00 to fly to Seattle—12 hours of flying to spend 5 hours planning the project in Dubai—and I was back for a 7:45 breakfast this morning. So, as long as I can do that, great!”
Continue to Part 7 – Defining Success