John Tumazos had racked up 39 appearances in Steel and other metals and mining sectors — including a dozen No. 1s — by 2007, when Prudential Securities shut down its global equity group’s operations. The Newark, New Jersey–based financial services firm handed pink slips to all 420 employees, telling them that declining commissions and increased regulation had made the business unprofitable. “It felt like the steel mill shut down,” recalls the Pittsburgh native, “except that Pittsburgh is now doing better than the financial sector.”
Undaunted, Tumazos took his distribution list of 1,700 names at 500 firms and decided to set up his own shop, Very Independent Research, at his home in Holmdel, New Jersey; it earned $1.3 million in revenue in its first year and has been growing ever since. Today the analyst-turned-entrepreneur oversees four analysts and two salespeople, plus support staff.
Running his own business is very different from working at a bank. “We spend three times as much time doing research and one third as much time doing marketing,” he says.
Tumazos, 55, earned a master’s degree in industrial administration at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie-Mellon University in 1979; later that year he began his career as an investment research officer covering the metals sector for Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. Over the years he has worked at Oppenheimer & Co., Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. and Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.