DAILY GRIND

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

En­tre­pre­neur James Tucker started young. At age 12 he had two pa­per rounds and at 14 he was wash­ing dishes at a lo­cal res­tau­rant.

‘‘When I was grow­ing up, if we wanted some­thing we had to go out and work for it.

‘‘It’s a good place to start from.’’

The 34-year-old left school when he was 16 with dreams of be­ing a pro­fes­sional sailor.

Af­ter a year he de­cided it was more of a pas­sion than a ca­reer and went into part­ner­ship with his marine store boss in Welling­ton.

The pair bought a food man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany and within five years they in­creased its turnover by 1000 per cent.

Mr Tucker stum­bled across Hell Pizza, which was a small busi­ness with one Welling­ton out­let.

He saw the po­ten­tial and bought the rights to ex­pand in Auck­land. Within 18 months he had seven new stores.

‘‘Hell is a re­ally good New Zealand suc­cess story.

‘‘I’ve al­ways had a pretty good head for busi­ness. It was just some­thing that I al­ways thought I would end up do­ing.’’

Mr Tucker got the idea for the salad and sand­wich bar Ha­bit­ual Fix while trav­el­ling over­seas af­ter the sud­den death of his busi­ness part­ner.

He and trained chef Tim Ben­est spent two years de­vel­op­ing the menu be­fore launch­ing.

The pair opened the first store in Auck­land’s CBD just one week af­ter the 2008 stock­mar­ket crash.

Luck­ily the food busi­ness is rel­a­tively re­ces­sion-proof, Mr Tucker says.

‘‘It was re­ally un­for­tu­nate tim­ing. But by then we were well past the point of no re­turn.’’

He is now fo­cus­ing on food out­let Mad Mex which he owns the New Zealand de­vel- op­ment rights to.

Mr Tucker says bud­ding en­trepreneurs need to un­der­stand the fine line be­tween their dreams and busi­ness re­al­i­ties.

‘‘You need to know when to per­se­vere but you also need to know when to give up. Start­ing a busi­ness from scratch can be painful. I’ve been caught up in that as well.’’

But be­ing his own boss is some­thing Mr Tucker won’t be giv­ing up any­time soon.

He loves the free­dom that comes with it, such as ‘‘pop­ping’’ to San Fran­cisco last month to visit old yacht­ing bud­dies who sail in the Team New Zealand and Amer­ica’s Cup crews.

‘‘I haven’t had a job since I was 17.

‘‘For me, go­ing to work isn’t like go­ing to work for most peo­ple – it’s my pas­sion,’’ he says.

‘‘I like be­ing in con­trol of my own free­dom.’’

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