Nelson Mail

Working hard to make his own LUCK

Stuff’s new series, How I Made My First Million, talks to millionair­es about how they got there. Anuja Nadkarni meets Gary Rohloff.


Laybuy founder Gary Rohloff says the quote he lives by is one from South African golfer Gary Player, who said: ‘‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’’

After high school, Rohloff dived straight into the corporate world, working for the Bank of New Zealand in Rotorua. By 21, Rohloff had become a homeowner.

‘‘I was lucky. In those days staff could buy a house on cheap finance.

‘‘So I sold my car and bought a house. But you have to remember it was a different time. I was earning $12,008 a year before tax and bought the two-bedroom former state house for $42,000.’’

While he didn’t keep track of the day he reached $1 million, he knew it was through property.

‘‘I didn’t put a number on things, I just wanted to pay off the mortgage as fast as I could and just work hard.

‘‘I was lucky enough that my job in Rotorua got transferre­d to

Wellington. There my wife and I met and we bought and upgraded this little house, doing it up ourselves.

‘‘We were able to sell that for a good price and moved to Auckland.

‘‘Once you got on the Auckland market things took care of themselves quite quickly.’’

Looking back, he said, the advice he would have given himself was not to sell those houses.

‘‘Use the equity to get into another house. We didn’t do that.’’

Rohloff left a four-decade corporate career to set up startup Laybuy at the age of 56.

‘‘Even though sometimes I doubt myself, you are actually never too old to start anything. It is not a dress rehearsal, you don’t want to die wondering,’’ Rohloff said.

The three-year-old company now has half-a-million customers in New Zealand, more than 1200 Australian retailers and a new office in Sydney. It has also launched in Britain and plans to enter the United States soon.

‘‘Advice I would give myself looking back – just believe in your ability, listen and learn. Business is a bloody rollercoas­ter. You have to be prepared to guts out the tough times because there are good times around the corner.’’

Rohloff’s money mantra was ‘‘don’t spend more than you earn’’.

He said he had always encouraged his two sons to keep a rainy day fund.

‘‘When I started working, the idea of redundancy, that was never talked about. Nowadays that is very common. You want to make sure you have got a backstop if you are made redundant or the business downsizes.’’

‘‘Business is a bloody rollercoas­ter.’’ Gary Rohloff

 ?? Gary Rohloff co-founded Laybuy with his son, Alex, three years ago. ??
Gary Rohloff co-founded Laybuy with his son, Alex, three years ago.

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