Bowling into the male grooming business

Good pitch: Dion Nash’s start-up Triumph&Disaster is inspired by a Kipling poem.
Phil Doyle/Fairfax NZ
Good pitch: Dion Nash’s start-up Triumph&Disaster is inspired by a Kipling poem.

Former international cricketer Dion Nash's biggest investment these days is in his 3-year-old start-up Triumph&Disaster.

When thinking of a name for his upmarket male-grooming products company, Nash wanted something that reflected its values and he recalled a Rudyard Kipling poem his father gave him when he was 13. The poem, advice from a father to a son on how to be a man, includes the line, "If you can meet with Triumph & Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same . . . "

Forty-one-year-old Nash, who's married and has three children with former New Zealand netball captain Bernice Mene, retired from international cricket in 2002 after back injuries. He tried sports commentating before launching a bottled water brand with 42Below's founders and ended up as marketing director for the vodka company.

In 2010 he decided it was now or never to set up his own business. Triumph&Disaster sells to 89 stores in New Zealand and exports to five countries.

The company is 90 per cent owned by Nash and 10 per cent by his mentor, Mainfreight founder Bruce Plested. Unsurprisingly Nash's share portfolio includes some Mainfreight shares.

You spent nine years playing international cricket. Was it a lucrative period for you?

I started out earning $400 a week, so not at the start. This was at the transition from a pure amateur game to the professional era. By the end I was earning a pretty solid wage. Some of the top guys got quarter-of-a-million dollars a year but that's only for a few years. That's now what the bottom players get.

When I was playing we used to get a lot of cash and I remember the first time I got £30,000 in the UK and thought I was a millionaire. But when you're young you have no financial nous. You're getting a lot of money early on and don't have to pay for anything, not even a bus ticket, so you feel flush all the time. You don't understand one day you might get injured and suddenly you're back on the dole.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I binge spend. Online shopping is my downfall. When I was playing sport I used to like to spend on things like watches but now I spend on clothes for business. That's my indulgence but I justify it by saying I have to look good for work.

What was your first paid work?

Working for the old man stacking wood for the family-owned timber mill at Dargaville.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude to money?

Dad was a hard worker who owned a farm and timber mill and stitched together a living. All the family had to work on both.

There's a perception out there that farmers are flush but that was not my experience. Dad kept us in footballs and cricket bats but that was about it.

Dad never talked business . . . It's good during your upbringing to get exposed to money but Dad thought it was a dirty thing to talk business across the dinner table.

Do you give to charity?

I give time because I think that's the best thing I can do rather than give money. I'm involved where I can with sporting clubs and teams and working with youth and make time available for charity auctions.

Do you have any investments?

Like most Kiwis our home is a major investment and now I have the business which is a big investment. I also have some shares and wished I'd bought more.

How did you get into buying shares?

One of the things about cricket is you get a lot of cash in lump sums and Adam Parore came in one day saying he'd bought a lot of shares and then the whole cricket team got into shares. I've learned a lot but was burned a few times - I bought some at 40c that ended up at 0.4c.

What's been your biggest investment mistake?

Selling my house on Waiheke. And possibly investing in a bunch of shares without doing the background checks on it.

Do you trust the money men?

No. I've learned its best to trust your own research and judgment and even then you can still get it wrong. If you don't understand something, don't invest in it.

What's your financial plans for the next decade?

It's all about the business. We've committed to a 10-year plan for the business and that's my biggest individual capital outlay. I'm not getting any younger and this is my one chance to give it a go.

Sunday Star Times