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After 'M*A*S*H,' part-time Utahn Wayne Rogers made big bucks

Published July 7, 2011 7:30 pm

Trapper John • Part-time Utah resident had two careers — as actor and entrepreneur.
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Wayne Rogers is perhaps best known for his role as Trapper John on the classic TV series "M*A*S*H" — the highlight of an acting career that spanned half a century. But his success isn't confined to the stage and screen.

The part-time Utah resident also is a successful businessman and contributor to the Fox Business Network. Which might sound like a very different career, but Rogers doesn't see it that way.

"The creative process is operative in entrepreneurs just as well as it is in pianists and painters and writers and actors," he said.

Rogers is convinced acting and business are closely related.

"Oh, absolutely! I think there's a common denominator," he said. "They're not as disparate as people think. I grant you, in a large corporation, the activity is administrative as opposed to creative.

"But in an entrepreneur, it's very creative."

It's also related to his latest venture. He's written a book titled Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success. It recounts what he's learned in his successful business career.

"My interest is either in getting them going or in rescuing them," he said. "Distress is sausage to my grinder. That appeals to me emotionally. Once again, I think it involves a creative function as opposed to an administrative one."

Rogers founded Plaza Bank of Commerce in San Jose, Calif. He's the chairman of his own investment strategy firm, CEO and chairman of Stop-N-Save, LLC, and he's on the boards of several other businesses.

Both his careers require a lot of rehearsing.

"You don't just suddenly walk on the stage and have the character and the material come to you," he said. "There are people every now and then who believe that lightning will strike and they'll do well, and it's generally a disaster. Rehearsal is the necessary, gritty, dirty work that you do to bring about a performance."

And the same is true in business.

"If don't do all the homework and dig for all of the due diligence and the details that are necessary, you will probably not be successful."

Rogers did his homework when he and his partners bought the failing Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City.

"It's a fairly iconic business there," Rogers said. "It was in distress and losing money when we bought it. We've turned it around and made it a big success."

They've also made it the focus of the TLC series "Say Yes to the Dress."

"That was just smart marketing," he said.

As he has for decades, Rogers spends a couple of months a year at his Utah home.

"Before there was a Deer Valley, my son wanted to learn to ski," he said. "It was something that we did together, and it was a great bonding experience. That's why I ended up buying a house here."

Thirty-six years after he left "M*A*S*H," Rogers, 78, remains a familiar face, but not always an instantly recognizable one. People are "generally confused. They see me and they know the face and they know they've seen it somewhere and they're not sure where," he said. "They eventually put it together, but it takes them a little time.

"I just take it in stride. I'm an older person. I'm grateful that recognition by the public has brought me a lot of things. It's put my children and grandchildren through school, so I'm very grateful for it."

spierce@sltrib.comTwitter: @ScottDPierceFacebook.com/tribremix —

"Make Your Own Rules"

In his book Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success, Wayne Rogers outlines five rules to achieve unconventional success:

Rule 1 • Find people you can work with and trust.

Rule 2 • Dare to do what is not expected. Question the status quo. But keep a firm eye on reality. Creativity becomes useless when it crosses the border into fantasy.

Rule 3 • To level the playing field, know what you're up against. Make it your business to know the rules and regulations that affect your business.

Rule 4 • Do your homework and legwork. Improving standard business practices starts with understanding why they became standard in the first place.

Rule 5 • Just ask the customer. It's not rocket science. The customer has always been and will always be the best source for solutions to business problems.






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