Released February 4, 2003

PASSION FOR WORK, 'STREET SMARTS' KEY TO SUCCESS,
ENTREPRENEUR TELLS SOUTHERN MISS STUDENTS

HATTIESBURG - He said he's never played the stock market, but Bruce Rossmeyer encouraged University of Southern Mississippi students Tuesday to take risks to find a career that best suits their passion.

"You're better off taking a risk to get ahead than staying in a career that makes you unhappy," Rossmeyer said in the first Southern Miss College of Business Administration's Executive-on-Campus lecture for the spring 2003 semester.

"Do something you think you would like to do, rather than what someone else thinks you ought to do," he said during his presentation, titled "Entrepreneurship: A Personal Perspective." "Enroll (in a degree program) that you like. Most of my friends from college are in careers that they didn't study.

"Do the best you can, give 100 percent, but be happy."

Rossmeyer, who attended Southern Miss from 1961-64, is president of Rossmeyer Family Enterprises, which includes a Harley Davidson dealership in Daytona, Fla., that has been the No. 1 seller of parts and accessories in the United States. In 2000, Rossmeyer's flagship store reached more than $30 million in sales and more than $30 million in financing with Harley-Davidson Credit and Insurance. In 1969, Rossmeyer – then 24 years old – owned the first of several automobile businesses, a Dodge dealership in Washington, N.J. After alternating between successful dealerships in Florida and his home state of New Jersey, Rossmeyer settled down at last in Daytona, where he began a short-lived retirement.

A few years later, Rossmeyer was ready to return to the automobile business – but this time he traded in a couple of wheels, downsizing from cars and trucks to the last great American motorcycle, the Harley-Davidson. His timing impeccable, Rossmeyer completed construction on a new 20,000-square-foot dealership in 1994 – just in time for the Annual Daytona Beach Bike Week, which draws thousands of bikers and, for Rossmeyer, potential customers.

A mixture of formal education with real life work experience is the key component for success today, Rossmeyer said. "College may not be for everyone, but you need a degree to get in the door," he said. But he cautioned students they would have to rely not only on their education but their instincts and experience for success — and survival — in the business world. Imparting some of his own wisdom, what Rossmeyer refers to as "Bruce Logic 101," he said that though the fundamentals of business knowledge can be learned in the classroom, after graduation they would need to rely on their own instincts. "College can teach you to get to the lake, but not to swim across," he said. "You can't replace street smarts with a business class. I'm not knocking college, but get your street smarts or they'll eat you up. Try to get out there (after graduation) and learn what the real world is about."

Three other lecturers will participate in the series this semester. John Galloway, president of Isle of Capri Casinos, will discuss the "Business Side of the Gaming Industry" Feb.12. On March 27, Perry Parker, managing director for foreign exchange trading at Deutsche Bank in New York, will discuss "Foreign Exchange: From Theory to Practice." On April 16, George J. Newton, president and CEO of Burrus Investment Group Inc. of New Orleans, will wrap up the series with a lecture called "Important Business Lessons not Learned at Southern Miss – or Harvard."

Seating for all lectures is limited. For more information, call (601) 266-4659.

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July 9, 2003 10:57 AM

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