Group Philosophy

S.A. "Sash" Spencer

Holding Capital Group's original philosophies, policies, principles, and practices that were the guiding principles of S.A. "Sash" Spencer (1931-2008), the founder of the Group, are outlined below and still hold true today.


Flexibility is essential. Without it, there can be no compromise or negotiation and therefore, no transactions. Below are some thoughts that aid in flexibility:

  • Every generalization is false, including this one.
  • There are exceptions to every rule.
  • Life is full of contradictions. The key to survival is maintaining balance.
  • The ability to think independently is key. Conventional wisdom is usually wrong.
  • Don't force your own position. Take what the defense gives.

Quality People

An organization is only as good as the talent and inspiration of its people:

  • Quality people possess both ethics and ability.
  • Competency and experience determine ability.
  • Viewing track record, contacting references, interviewing, and testing are key elements in determining a candidate's quality.
  • In evaluating a company or business, our due diligence is primarily establishing whether or not to trust the management.
  • "Sharing" or "pooling" talent is the key to considerable growth.
  • Great companies weren't always great, so why are they now? Simply put…people made it happen.
  • Our philosophy on sharing is that it's better to share with good partners, than to have it all without them.

Caution and Conservatism

We optimize chances for success by minimizing risk. Below are thoughts on exercising caution:

  • "More important than return on capital is the return of capital." – J.P. Morgan
  • The only thing you know for sure when you write a check is: that is how much you can lose.
  •  Lenders are a co-participant in our transactions and are an important franchise of our business.
  • The short-term may be known, but great results come over the long term.
  • Buffet: "My favorite holding period is forever."

Running Scared

There's a value to pessimism and uncertainty – It's our best defense:

  • Murphy was an optimist.
  • Insecurity is a valuable trait.
  • The phrase, "don't worry" is the kiss of death.
  • Always envision the downside before entertaining the upside. Ask, "What can go wrong?" and "What if…"
  • No deal is closed until the checks clear the bank.
  • Conducting parallel, as opposed to successive efforts, is the best insurance.
  • If we don't kill the competition, they will kill us.

Service Mentality

Our industry is often ego-driven. We have a service mentality:

  • We are here to serve sellers, each other, and the companies – they are not here to serve us.
  • Subordinate yourself to make the other party more comfortable.
  • Ego doesn't make money – it costs money.
  • We must be considerate in how we treat everyone. And, everyone is a reference sooner or later.
  • One of the world's greatest tools is to listen, and never interrupt.


We are known by the level of professionalism we convey to those with whom we come in contact. Below are some thoughts on professionalism:

  • Do things well, or don't do them at all.
  • Concentrate on the task at hand, while keeping the goal in mind.
  • Reliability is key. If we simply do what we say we will, which is almost unheard of today, we have great competitive advantage.
  • We should view each business situation with the "helicopter quality" – an overview from above with details on the ground.
  • Follow the law of successive approximation – set standards, and constantly exceed them. Raise the bar after every success.


Albert Einstein had the following sign in his office: "Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts."

  • Always utilize a dual approach of considering non-analytic and analytic factors.
  • Non-analytic includes the character of people with whom we deal, and the awareness of the global social, political, and economic trends shaping the world in which we live. 

Positive Attitudes

Though we are cautious we should approach each situation with a positive attitude:

  • A deal should be good for all parties involved.
  • We want prosperity for our partners and colleagues.
  • Greed and envy are a great obstacle to progress.
  • We put ourselves in each other's shoes.
  • We stay away from politics.
  • We are not litigious.
  • Find out how to make things work, not why they won't.


In our business, as in many, time means everything. Below are some thoughts that stress the value we place on time:

  • "Time is the coin of human existence." – Carl Sandburg
  • Planning is vital, whether for the long-term or for individual days.
  • Writing priorities gets you halfway there.
  • Staying physically and mentally fit provides the extra edge.
  • "He who controls himself controls the world." – Anonymous


There are few things in life more valuable than persistence:

  • "…Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "Press On" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." – Calvin Coolidge

These same philosophies guide our business and professionals today.