Get to Know Henri Bonan – Founder of The HB Group

By May 13, 2015Blog

Henri and SuZan Bonan

 

Get to know Henri Bonan, the Founder of The HB Group! 

What were you doing prior to starting The HB Group?

I attended Brigham Young University and received a Bachelors Degree in Communications. I dreamed of buying TV stations, I worked on air and radio sales. While at BYU, I was moving from Provo to Salt Lake City, I blew a disc out of my back by lifting a 100 lb Pioneer amp. After I had surgery one day I was laying there, and it hit me that I wasn’t interested in being the top in radio anymore. I was head hunted for a job with a local employee recognition company and started working there in the early 80’s. I had a piece of garbage car. I would park blocks away so it would’t affect my chances at work. They were very high brow, and probably wouldn’t appreciate a 65 old cutlass convertible, with no top and all rusted out..the perfect college car!

 

What Made You Want to Start a Career in the Import/Export Business?

I was dropping by some businesses in 1985. I had been thinking about how to be more competitive. Buying domestically didn’t set me apart. I saw a cotton bag on the floor at a company, he threw it at me and I saw a made in China tag, my mind started to turn. The president asked if I could get 7500-10000 bags every 2 months and asked if I could get them for a certain price point. I then contacted another local company and they asked the same if I could get them jogging suits at half the price. If so, they would cut me a check for half the order. In the Fall of ’85, no one ever went to China back then. I was one of the first. Every business I looked at were short Chinese. I was very intimidated even though I towered over everyone. I had no idea of what I was doing. Once I purchased my first order for my first company, it opened many doors.  The HB Group was then born. It was an interesting experience. I called the Chinese consulate in SF first, and they reached out and made appointments. I flew to China blind not knowing what to expect. Everything began to move quickly after that first visit.

Biggest ups and downs
At the time of 9/11 there was a game change. We lost millions in with the Olympics business since there was extreme security risk with terrorism. Everyone we shipped to shipped back. They were worried there would be no games and no way to sell their merchandise. This was after we shipped and billed based on our PO’s from them.
Biggest ups is selling to a new company. Every time a new company trusts us to do their programs, it reminds me of why I started. I love helping people reach their goals and provide excellent products at good prices and great service..it rejuvenates me!


What advice do you give to anyone wanting to venture in the import/export field and also in starting their own business?

Just know what you’re doing and do your homework prior. In venturing in the import/export business, your company hangs on the economy of the world. Some countries dislike each other like China  importing to Japan. Know your facts before setting up shop. But be passionate..that’s what pushes you. Even if you make mistakes, push forward and have a great attitude. You can make it. It also doesn’t hurt to have a great relationship with a good freight forwarder!

Little known unique facts about yourself – hobbies, what you like to do in spare time
I was born and lived in Sweden. Moved to California, then Utah. I can’t play golf anymore unfortunately due to multiple surgeries. I’m a closet rock star! I was the lead singer in a rock band for 7 years. I own another company, a music entertainment company, Airus Music Group where I manage Swedish bands. With my second venture now that I’m older, I can live vicariously through them! 

Favorite trip you have been on 
Best trip was this last Fall of 2014 with my wife to Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia. It was an amazing experience. So many story book scenes. It was like being in a Disney movie everywhere you looked. Truly a trip of a lifetime.
Your Personal Life
My wife told me she would give me sons, strong and tall , however five daughters later, I wouldn’t trade a thing. They are wonderful girls and I have loved every minute watching them grow and going to all their activities.  I’ll admit there were times with all the estrogen, I had to go watch a man’s movie just to get my head straight! But it’s been so fun. Now they have given me wonderful grandchildren, makes it all worth it! Life is truly a journey.
Nate Ingles

About Nate Ingles