by Joseph RADDER
Pete Grum has lived in or near a number of cities and towns around the world. He grew up as the son of an Army General who moved to a new assignment every few years. Buffalo, however, is his city of choice. He moved here for the first time in 1985 and spent eight years in the Mortgage Division of Marine Midland Bank (now HSBC). Opportunity called, however, and he moved to San Francisco. After three years there he received a call from Don Ross, the head of Rand Capital Corporation, who was getting ready to retire. Ross believed Pete Grum was just the right person to take over the helm of Rand Capital. Grum quickly seized the opportunity to return to the favorite of all his home towns.
An urban person, Grum believes, everyone should live in the city. Its a vibrant community. As far as Buffalos future is concerned, hes optimistic. Our problems of regulation, taxes and many layers of government were created over many years, he said, but theres a new spirit of cooperation between business and government in addressing the issue. Theres more activity and a more cohesive effort for solving the problems.
Pete Grum supports the regionalism concept and believes that many of Buffalo-Niagaras problems were caused by the many layers of government and duplication of services we endure.
Rand Capital makes an important contribution to the growth of Western New York business and industry. The corporation was founded in 1969 to provide venture capital and consulting services to early stage companies. Rand was a pioneer in the field and is Buffalos oldest venture capital firm, supporting the growth and development of businesses in varied industries. Rands current portfolio reflects investment in eighteen different companies, many in high tech and computer fields. The Rand Capital Corporations net assets increased about 10% in the past year. Net asset value per share increased from $1.39 to $1.55 in the second quarter of 2001.
While the lions share of Pete Grums days go into Rand Capital management, he also finds time for a number of civic and public service activities. He serves on the Kaleida Foundation board of directors and is active in the Boy Scouts of America, not only as a member of the board and executive council, but as assistant scoutmaster as well. He has served as vice chairman of the Horizon Health Management Group and is on the boards of a number of the companies in which Rand Capital has an interest.
Pete and his wife, Kristine Weyand of Gowanda, are gourmet cooks. Indeed Pete was at one time a restaurant critic for Buffalo magazine. They love to ski at Ellicottville and are loyal Buffalo Bills fans.
When we asked how he got involved in financial services, Grum told us that, as a boy, he admired an uncle who was a banker. I guess I was fascinated by the dollars, he said, but, when I got a little older, I realized it was all on paper. Nevertheless he pursued a financial career and prepared for it by earning a Bachelors degree in Economics at Eisenhower College and an MBA in Finance at RIT.
Of his Army childhood days he says, The Army is a really homogenous place to grow up. Its sort of a middle class utopia where everything is provided...for example, free medical care. And when you move every year or two you have a different perspective on the world.
Grum believes in the Ayn Rand Libertarian view of capitalism, which places a priority on individualism. In this connection he says, The individual is fully capable of making better choices for himself than the government can make.
What does Buffalo-Niagara need most? I dont believe there is a silver bullet, he replies, it will be a combination of things. Our priorities should include reducing utility costs and reducing taxes and regulation by 50%.
As long as Buffalo can continue to persuade good people like Pete Grum to come back home, our area is sure to have a bright future.
Joseph Radder is a freelance writer.
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