Archive for Thursday, November 8, 2001

Investor catches attention

November 8, 2001

The slot machine Tom Polcyn keeps in his dining room is more than just decoration.

"That's a reminder I can do better with this sometimes," Polcyn said.

The "this" he referred to is the stock market, which gained Polcyn notoriety when he was featured in a story about retired investors dealing with a sluggish stock market in the Nov. 12 issue of Forbes magazine.

"If you go to Vegas you know the odds are always against you," he said. "The stock market is much better."

Although he likes to keep his finances under wraps at home, Polcyn shared with two reporters monetary details unknown to his family, not to mention a four-hour photo shoot in a studio converted from his garage.

"I'd never want to be a model," Polcyn joked. "He'd say, 'I see a speck of dust on your glasses.'"

The Eudora resident and retired electrical engineer caught the attention of the national magazine when Polcyn's financial adviser recommended him for the article. Polcyn said his adviser had given him other chances to be in the media spotlight, like local television shows.

"I've got no real urge to be on TV," he said.

Polcyn fit the profile for the article's topic since he said at one point he had accrued more than $1 million, but has lost a considerable amount due to the market.

"My philosophy is 'ride it out,'" he said.

Although he's officially retired from Kantronics, the company he started in his late 20s, Polcyn estimated he spends between four and five hours a day researching companies and the market.

"I was always fascinated with the stock market," he said. "I'm a risk taker, but I was in the right place at the right time."

Polcyn said he got into the stock market in the early days of his company when he purchased National Semiconductor stock.

"It looked kind of fun," he said.

Now, investing has become his full-time job. Although he will hand out advice to friends, Polcyn decided he could make more money putting all of his energy into researching his own investments rather than charging others for his time and help.

If he could get his investments up to where they once were, Polcyn said he hoped to be able to share with family.

"I had a goal I was going to start to give it away," he said. "I'd like to just help out some of my family."

To get to that point, he's studying up on good investments. Although one afternoon the muted television in the living room was on a financial channel with stock quotes running along the bottom in several bands, Polcyn said he doesn't stay glued to market news.

"I turn it off a lot when it starts getting really painful," he said.

Plus, he has other interests besides the stock market, like working in the yard and traveling.

"I'm not that much of a money freak," he said.

He likes quoting his adviser's philosophy: The rich man is the man who knows he has enough.

"It's not to get rich," he said of playing the market. "It's a challenge to beat the system."

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