The newest division at Great White Shark Enterprises he's most excited about is the Great White Shark Opportunity Fund, an asset-based debt-lending fund that provides alternative and flexible capital to small- and mid-cap companies. Norman won't reveal what companies they've invested in so far but said they have $75 million in capital.
"It's a good place to be in right now, because a lot of small, entrepreneurial businesses can't get capital to grow their business," he said in his familiar Australian accent. "Many years ago my partner, David Chessler, and I invested in a couple small business and just saw the returns we were generating, in the high 20s and even above. We started off very small, but now we're growing at a comfortable pace, and we have institutions interested because we have a performance track record that's very positive. We don't want to be a $20 billion fund. We just want to be like the space we're in."
Norman's most profitable division is his golf course design company, which charges $1.5 million for a "signature" design. It has opened 95 courses worldwide and has another 42 projects in various stages of development with almost all of them in Asia, Mexico and South America, where the golf economy is not as negatively affected as in the U.S.
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But like with any business, the Great Recession took its toll (back in 2007, his design fee was $2 million). "It's the hardest recession I've ever been through, and I've probably been through four recessions since I started my company in 1992," he said. "But once you come up the backside of it and people see that your credibility and business model has survived the negative test of time, your business is in a really good place to grow."
Since GWSE is such a closely held company, Norman won't disclose what his gross revenues were last year but does claim they increased by 63 percent.