Joe Segal on the moment he turned his finances around

How a move to a new bank gave Kingswood Capital president and CEO Joe Segal the financial break he was hoping for

“This was just after the war, 1947. I was starting out in the war surplus business, because I’d been in the army overseas. I didn’t have any money but I did have one deal—I don’t remember whether it was marine pumps or camouflage paint—and I needed $5,000 to pay for it.

I had a bank account at the Royal Bank, and I could never get to see the bank manager. I was nothing. They were opening a new branch of the Bank of Montreal at the corner of Prior and Main. So I went to the new branch that they just opened and I walked in and I said to the banker, ‘I’d like to borrow $5,000.’ He said, ‘Well, who are you?’ And I said, ‘I deal at the other bank down the street, but I can’t get any money there, nobody’s listening to me. I’m gonna move my bank account here.’

He said, ‘I can’t guarantee I can get you anything,’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m moving here anyway.’ And he said, ‘We’ll see.’

He gave me the $5,000. And that started my career in the war surplus business. And one thing led to another, and as I started making a little money I bought four-by-four trucks, six-by-six trucks, fire barges, blasting caps, dynamite—everything. That little $5,000 led to the next deal.

When you have a little, a little is a lot. When you have a lot, a little is nothing. Now as you go down the road, you get a little more, but you always require more.”