Paul Garnett (’73) is a true businessman, and as the more than 20 companies in his family portfolio show, he will consider any venture that might create a profitable enterprise. Whether the need is for eggs on the plate, rare earth metals for cellphones or a quick pick-me-up from an energy drink, he has a product that provides. With such a diverse portfolio, it is a wonder how one man got involved in so many different things. For Garnett, these businesses are both a fascination and a way to make money.
“Although they’re unrelated businesses, I have a passion about all of them,” he said. “Diversification is a good thing because any business at any time can suffer an economic downfall. These businesses provide non-correlated assets.”
In 1975, Garnett moved to Beatrice, Neb., for a fresh start. The small town in the Cornhusker State allowed him to feel right at home and begin his work in the financial services world. Following a successful career with Edward Jones, he started several businesses, including Garnett Investment Strategies, which he is happy to now co-run with his daughter.
“At age 10 or 11, my daughter decided she wanted to do what I do,” he said. “It has been really neat to run a company with her.”
With opportunities everywhere, Garnett makes the most of a possibility when one presents itself. One such opening began with a call from his buddy working for the Kansas City Royals. About 20 years ago, a young athlete was seeking financial advice, so Garnett headed south to help. Seeing a need for financial advisors for professional athletes, he got to work helping many more stars with their finances.
“I began to wonder how many young professional athletes don’t realize the importance of saving and putting some money away because their careers are so short,” he said. “I made a focused effort to reach out and contact sports agents, and I started to get referrals from all across the country.”
After receiving such positive feedback, Garnett became a Registered Player Financial Advisor for the National Football League Players Association. Because of his success in the program, he was invited to speak at the 2015 Super Bowl pre-game activities. As is often the case, one event tends to lead to another, and while he was in Phoenix for the game he came across his next venture, a sports bar chain called Aroogas. The next thing he knew, Garnett had negotiated franchise rights for Florida and the Atlanta metro area. The up-and-coming chain plans to open 50 new restaurants in the near future in the Sunshine State.
Besides the restaurants, Garnett has a stake in a variety of other businesses, including one that consults on stadium security and another that operates medical helicopters for emergency transport to hospitals. Several other outlets he has a hand in include software engineering, eSports and the nutraceutical industry. Although his businesses are diverse, they all have one thing in common.
“At the end of the day, it is about creating something that was not there before,” he said. “It is about creating jobs and creating value, making a difference on a large scale and a small scale.”
Originally from Madison, Mo., Garnett came to Truman to play basketball and baseball. He credits his athletic background with instilling in him the competitive desire that has led to his prosperity. While he is driven to be successful, he is always looking to share his knowledge with emerging entrepreneurs. This spring, he returned to Truman to be a Bulldog B.I.T.E. judge and was astonished by the ideas the young industrialists pitched.
“I was kind of jealous of the contestants. I had no idea what I was going to do at age 21 and 22,” he said. “The sheer fact that someone at that age is already thinking about these ideas is really neat.”
Garnett never dreamed his path would lead to where he is today. Originally planning to coach basketball, he is on a different trajectory than expected. Even though he was unsure what his future had in store for him, he still fared well, achieving great things as an entrepreneur.