Michael Pearce joined premium outdoor umbrella company Shade7 in 2009 in a sales and accounting role. Shade7 designs and manufactures high-end outdoor sun umbrellas exporting to over 20 countries around the world.
Within a year of starting at Shade7, the owner offered Michael 10% of the company and to take over running the business from Auckland, so he could move overseas to work on charitable projects.
It was an opportunity that would change Michael’s life, after coming from humble beginnings with no formal qualifications.
“I came from nothing, I failed school and dropped out at 16, but I was naturally good at finance and had an interest in business,” he said.
“When I was 13 my grandmother bought me the book Rich Dad Poor Dad which sparked a new passion in my life for business and investing. I then began to read about Warren Buffett and Richard Branson.
“I started working at 16 in back-room data entry and accounting jobs for various companies. I learned to work hard, like I was working on my own business, rather than feeling like an employee. I met the owner of Shade7 through church when I was 24 and he employed me, taught me how to sell and a year later I was running his business."
The owner wanted to take his family and move overseas to get involved in charitable work and needed someone to lead the business while he was gone. Michael was promoted to General Manager and bought a small shareholding as an incentive to grow the business long term.
But after eight years of running Shade7, Michael wanted to purchase 100% of the company and that’s where Kiwibank stepped in.
“I’d been growing the export business around the world and some years we grew 20% to 30% per year. If you go to Fiji or French Polynesia, the majority of the hotels you go to, you’ll be sitting under a Shade7 umbrella. In the earlier years I got those deals through cold visiting every hotel and selling face to face.”