Magna magnate Stronach going strong in retirement
Published Friday, December 7, 2012 3:28PM EST
Auto parts entrepreneur Frank Stronach isn’t resting on his laurels in retirement. At what he calls “80 years young,” the Magna magnate has launched a political party in his native Austria, is hoping to start a massive beef farm in Florida and has written a book about his life and times.
Called “The Magna Man,” Stronach’s book was released in November. It details his rise from Austrian immigrant to one of Canada’s wealthiest men, its Amazon profile describing Stronach as “Canada’s greatest industrialist.” His auto parts company employs some 115,000 employees in 26 countries.
In a visit to CTV News Channel on Friday, he said that despite often referring to himself as the “king” of the company, he tried to make his company as a compassionate and participatory work environment.
“We are the most democratic company because we have a corporate charter of rights,” he said. “I had to be in line with that too … I think I’m a little different than (deceased Apple founder) Steve Jobs.”
Over the past 20 years, Stronach says he divided his time between Canada and Austria in his efforts to help his company expand its reach globally, and to facilitate the transfer of European technologies to North America.
Now, he’s working to give back, with a new political party focused on reforming the tax and education systems, among other parts of civil society. His Citizens Alliance is calling for reduced bureaucracy, a flat tax, and eliminating the country’s deficit.
“We always say, ‘I wish somebody would do something,’” he said. “I see a lot of problems there. I thought that if I’m involved I could help eliminate some of the problems. (Austria) makes every year a deficit and it piles up like an avalanche.”
Stronach’s Florida cattle operation, a massive 15,000-cow ranch that has been criticized for over-use of the state’s water supply, is a business he describes as near and dear to his heart.
“I did some soul searching,” he said. “Deep in my heart I have always been a farmer. I grew up in a small town.”
Stronach left the Magna board of directors one month ago, the latest move that’s seen him ease away from the company he first launched in 1957. He had formally retired as chairman of Magna International in 2011.