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Economic Summit attendees hear blunt advice from Alex Pires

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Alex Pires dispensed straightforward business advice at the Delaware Economic Summit today.

“We’re within 400 miles of 100 million people. It’s very easy to do well here,” he said. “I think you can do about anything in Delaware, and you’ll find most people want you to succeed because it’s such a small place.”

Pires, CEO of Community Bank Delaware and owner of Highway One Companies, told the audience members not to waste time worrying about what others think. “They don’t think about you at all,” he said.

Instead, he said, businesspeople should do what they really want to do. “Nobody’s judging you. You are, in essence, a free person,” he said. “I wouldn’t spend one second of your life trying to be anyone else … My message is to relax and enjoy yourself.”

Pires recommended working with business partners like the creators of Facebook and Apple did: “It’s very easy to do a lot of different things if you have partners. The world’s built on partners. It’s very easy to do. When you’re partners, you get to share the risk. And the banks, which really take all the risks, they love partners.”

“If you look at all the companies that have made it in the past few years, all of them are partners,” Pires said, adding that he would be willing to talk with anyone at the summit who wanted to partner.

The attorney-banker-restaurateur reminded would-be entrepreneurs that banks are looking for businesses to lend to: “They give you the money to start your business. They take the biggest risk. They never interfere with the management of it. And, when you make money, they don’t get any of it.”

Pires, whose businesses are based in Sussex County, said to take advantage of the fact that Delaware is one of 14 states with ocean frontage.

“We have an ocean, which is a huge, huge benefit. It’s in Sussex County, and there’s nobody living there. Start a business there. I’m an idiot and I’m rich as shit.”

He recommended selling to Delaware’s growing gray population. “Nobody wants to die anymore. They’re going to live forever,” he said. “There’s a lot of elderly people, and they need a lot of stuff.”

Pires said not to count on your salary alone to make money: “Money is made through investing. It’s not made through salaries.”

He suggested businesspeople pay attention to their presentation — clothes, handshake and table manners. Then he apologized for the four-letter-words laced through his talk.

The summit continues tomorrow at the World Café Live at the Queen with restaurant CEO Anthony Wedco as the keynote lunch speaker. Delaware Business Times is sponsor of the event. To register, go to deleconsummit.com


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