BY ANDREW SCHWEIZER
Matthew Spencer, owner of Aubergine, a nightclub downtown, and Firehouse, a prominent Pacific Beach restaurant, as well as SDCreative Media, DJhere and Dtown Productions, has rolled his entrepreneurial knowledge into his portfolio of businesses spanning from nightclubs to graphic design. Spencer, who has established himself as a serial entrepreneur, continues to push himself and his businesses in furthering their influence in San Diego.
Name: Matthew Spencer.
Company address: 722 Grand Ave., Pacific Beach.
Company phone: (858) 274-3100.
Year founded: 2006.
Prior business experience: Insurance sales and restaurant industry.
Average hours worked weekly: 80.
Source of startup capital: Self-starter who invested in newer companies with the profits generated from my initial company.
2007 revenue: $3.6 million.
Number of employees: 40.
Web site: www.firehousepb.com.
Birthplace: San Diego.
Education: Point Loma High School.
Current residence: Pacific Beach.
Family: Son, Marcos.
Hobbies: Beach volleyball, camping, snowboarding.
Your favorite book: “The Prophet,” by Kahlil Gibran.
What is the biggest lesson you have ever learned: How important integrity is.
Who/what are you listening to in the car, on your iPod, etc.: “Firehouse Chill-Out Mix CD,” by Freddie Fresh.
Reason for getting into business: To me, being an entrepreneur is like having a blank canvas.
What need, in your industry, did you perceive was unmet: In regards to the Firehouse, I felt that Pacific Beach was in desperate need of a comfortable yet upscale environment.
How did you see you could do better than others already in your field: I was less concerned about money and more concerned about the product or service I was putting out.
How I plan to grow the business: We promote from within, take care of our staff, listen to internal ideas and work hard to create an environment where people are comfortable and feel as though they are a part of what we are collectively doing.
Greatest advantage of owning your own business: You live and die by your own sword.
Biggest disadvantage of owning your own business: You’re never off and you carry the burden of many people’s livelihoods on your shoulders.
Business’s major strength: Although we are a large company, because of our strong communication we are able to move nimbly, solve problems and expand market share.
Business’s major weakness: We all wear many hats and, therefore, sometimes can lose focus.
What is the greatest need you have in your business: Finding people who are free thinkers as well as good leaders.
Smartest business decision: Being able to admit my own weaknesses and putting people in positions where I am lacking.
Significant business mistake(s): Not realizing when something isn’t working and move on to the next thing.
Toughest career decision: Quitting my mother’s small insurance agency to get into the hectic field I am in now.
Biggest ongoing challenge: Finding quality people.
The most important part of my business: Surrounding myself with good people.
My business works best when: I am the happiest.
Best way to stay competitive: Never get comfortable with the status quo; always be willing to try new things.
How I measure success: By feeling like I am creating something new and creative.
Goals yet to be achieved: I’d like to open a sushi bar and wine bar.
Guiding principles I will continue to follow: Hire good people; don’t be afraid to accept your weaknesses.