He became an insurance salesman with London Life for four years in Toronto before deciding to visit Australia to assess some business opportunities. Seeing long queues at a Chinese takeaway restaurant while vacationing in Sydney, he became convinced that fast food would sell well. He later returned to Australia to evaluate expanding KFC into the market that at that stage had limited fast food options.
He bought the right to open ten KFC franchises in Western Australia, raised $10,000 from each of thirty people to launch the business in December 1969, having moved with his wife and young child. Those who invested $10,000 then had an investment worth around $8.9 million as of March 2006.
After opening eight KFC outlets, he bought the rights to Burger King. They both later discovered someone else had the rights to the Burger King trademark in Australia, so Cowin instead called the outlets Hungry Jack’s. Many years later he had a falling out with Burger King over the name and other issues related to their franchise agreement which was eventually resolved in his favour. The business Competitive Foods Australia continues to be privately held by his family, with an estimated value of $350 million. It owns 50 KFC outlets in Western Australia and the Northern Territory in addition to the 350 Hungry Jack’s outlets throughout Australia, only 100 franchised.
Cowin also owns a meat processing business that exports throughout the world. He sold a substantial investment in Stanbroke Pastoral Company, one of the country’s biggest cattle station operators. He is also an investor with 40% of BridgeClimb, the business that operates walking tours over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Bridgeclimb itself made an estimated $10 million profit in 2002. He also invested in Network Ten, the television broadcaster, selling out of his stake with a profit of around $100 million. Cowin is also an investor in the Lone Star restaurant chain in Canada.
He is a member of the board of directors of Ten Network Ltd. He is also a director of the Sydney Olympic Park Authority, a director of Chandler McLeod Recruitment company and in July 2012 joined the board of directors of Fairfax Media. Cowin is an active member of the World Presidents Organization. He lives in Sydney with his wife, with whom he has had four children. (from Wikipedia).
Jack Cowin's 13 Instructions for life
- If you lose your health, nothing else matters.
- If you lose your integrity, no amount of success will be meaningful and it will produce a hollow feeling when you look in the mirror.
- Control your own destiny.
- Be prepared to take some risks, life’s an adventure.
- There are no shortages of good ideas. Don’t wait until the dogs are barking to do Something.
- Get some money out of the business – you’ll sleep better at night. Keep some Powder dry. Have an opportunity fund.
- Find a tolerant wife or husband who appreciates your search for success and fulfillment. Be good to your kids, they’re the ones who check you into the nursing home. It can be unfulfilling trying to enjoy yourself when others don’t enjoy your company.
- Never ever give up if you think you’re right. Big companies work on the basis that the little guy will fold.
- Don’t get caught up in your own self-importance. Try to be humble even If you don’t believe it. Laugh at yourself.
- Life is about dealing with people. You can solve the biggest problems In life if you have a smile on your face.
- Try and surround yourself with smart people who complement your skills.
- Focus. Don’t get the new girl syndrome, readily distractions. Be a rifle not a shotgun.
- Understand the basics of business. No one really understands the logic of why something is worth what it is.