From wine to whine - with bow hunting, windsurfing and painting in between - investment executives are an eclectic bunch.
For example, when he's not running brokerage firm Alpha Management Inc., San Francisco, Kenneth Kahn can be found at Blue Rock Vineyard in Sonoma County, Calif., which he owns and manages.
Although it takes several years for grapevines to produce a full crop, Mr. Kahn is patient. He said he's attracted to the process because the final results are more tangible than they are in the brokerage business.
In viticulture (growing grapes for wine), "the final product makes a proof statement for what you've done . . . (The wine) either has great qualities - and you like it - or it doesn't," he said.
Under Mr. Kahn's ownership, Blue Rock's first contribution to a batch of wine was a 1994 Cabernet Franc, he said. Blue Rock has since turned a modest profit, he said, after Mr. Kahn bought it out of foreclosure.
Bruce Bockelman, partner with the Bockelman/Holden Group in Naperville, Ill., is the kind of person who allows Mr. Kahn to make money from his avocation.
Mr. Bockelman is a collector of fine wine, with an ever-changing stock of about 1,500 bottles.
He makes most of his wine purchases through private futures contracts with individual wineries, he said, because that is the only way he can get the wine he wants.
While Mr. Bockelman collects wine because he loves it, his collection also has proved to be profitable. Bottles of wine for which he paid $30 when he first started collecting in the late 1970s and early 1980s now sell for upward of $400, he said.
Currently, his collection is predominantly French, with types of Bordeaux among his favorites.
Robert L. Gernstetter, director-marketing and client services for Mastholm Asset Management LLC, Bellevue, Wash., can appreciate a fine whine as well, but his comes from a motorcycle.
Mr. Gernstetter buys classic motorcycles and restores them, keeping the ones he really likes, and selling the others.
He hires others to do much of the actual restoration, preferring to spend his time researching and trying to track down cycles he would like to buy.
He got into motorcycles as a result of his frequent air travel: "When I got my United Airlines statement that (said) I passed the million mile mark, I wanted better transportation for the weekends."
Currently he owns just two bikes: a 1969 BMW R60/2, which he said once was owned by Charles Finley, former owner of the Oakland Athletics; and a 1948 Vincent, Series B.
On his wish list: a 1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster, "the best bike they ever made . . . It saved Harley-Davidson"; a 1952 Indian; and a 1970s-era Ducati Desmo, which barely makes the list.
BOW AND ARROW
Peter C. Bennett, chief investment officer-equities and portfolio manager with State Street Research and Management Co., Boston, tests his energy and endurance hunting big game: elk, deer and sometimes bear.
Mr. Bennett doesn't carry a gun, though. He uses a bow and arrow.
"You're truly hunting, as opposed to shooting," he said.
While bow hunting for deer entails lying around and waiting, hunting elk is a little different. During the elk mating season, a bull elk will chase after another elk in defending a harem of cows, he said.
"You can pretend you're another bull by making a certain call," Mr. Bennett said. If the call is successful, the other bull, often weighing 1,000 pounds and standing as tall as a horse, will charge, he said.
"You do have some second thoughts" about the sport during those moments, he said.
These days, Mr. Bennett won't even bother using his bow unless the animal is big enough to go into the record books, which is about one out of 20 he can get close to.
Moreover, Mr. Bennett said it is the thrill of the hunt that he likes, not the blood. "I don't enjoy killing animals. I cry sometimes afterward," he said. For that reason, "you want to hit them so they die quickly," Mr. Bennett said.
Hugh R. Lamle, executive vice president and principal of M.D. Sass Investors Services Inc., New York, pursues a hobby that can be more adrenalin-charged than his work: He is an avid windsurfer.
"I like to go windsurfing at very
high speeds," Mr. Lamle said. "There are days I'll go faster than Jet Skis."
Mr. Lamle, who also is president and chief investment officer and chief executive for Chase & MD Sass Partners, competes in races around the world, against amateurs and professionals.
But speed alone is not what attracted him to the sport. "It's a very Zenlike experience that is ideally suited for people that have to think a lot at their job," Mr. Lamle said.
Windsurfers are able to fully absorb their surroundings as they race, he said, but are unable to ponder other things -like investing, for example.
"You can't really be thinking about it; you have to feel it," he said.
Mr. Lamle went as far as buying a house in Aruba to make training easier. (Mr. Lamle's house, and his windsurfing log, can be viewed at his Web site by calling up www.arubahouse.com).
Mr. Lamle said he views windsurfing as a sort of metaphor for portfolio management: "It's a game of winning by not losing."
PAINTING GIVES BALANCE
William Snow, treasurer for Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, finds painting to be an ideal escape.
Art "provides a balance to my life. I believe that everyone in a stressful position should have a release," Mr. Snow said.
Mr. Snow began painting at age 10 as part of private lessons he took in southern Mexico, where his father worked. Although he dropped painting in high school, Mr. Snow picked it up again when he was in his early 40s.
Mr. Snow's painting style is realism; he generally prefers painting portraits and landscapes over such things as people's houses, although one of his current commissions is to do just that, he said.
Mr. Snow has had his work displayed in different art shows, including a show at the Federal Reserve Bank office in Baltimore, he said.
Dave Williams, chairman of Alliance Capital Management in New York, also has a love for art that keeps him and his wife, Reba Williams, occupied in research and purchasing of original prints.
"It's what we mostly do when we're not working," he said.
They primarily have collected prints from the period between World War I and World War II, and have published research articles in Print Quarterly, a print journal.
Mr. Williams collects mainly works of lesser-known artists, often seeking to put together a collection within a chosen genre. He and his wife, who is director of special projects for Alliance and a former securities analyst there, recently gathered prints for a sports-related show.
Another Alliance executive - Edward Baker, senior vice president and chief investment officer of emerging markets for Alliance in London - competes in triathlons, along with David M. Love, president of Kenmar Institutional Asset Management LLC and managing director of C.P. Eaton & Associates, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
"Even though I'm not winning, I'm able to be relatively competitive and have a lot of fun," Mr. Love said.
Six times Mr. Love has finished Hawaii's Iron Man Triathlon, which has stiff qualifications for entry. But this year, he took a break, competing in four half-length races and three at what is called the international distance.
(A full Iron Man is a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike race and a 26.2 mile foot race. The international distance, which will be used for the Olympics, is about a 1-mile swim, a 25-mile bike race, and a 6.2 mile run).
Mr. Love said just about anybody interested in the sport could be finishing international distance triathlons with a year of training. "We're not great athletes," he said.
But his training regimen for the Iron Man is intense: on a weekday he might run 10 miles or bike about 35 miles in the morning, and follow that with a short swim or weight training in the evening.
And his weekend schedule at its peak might be a 100-mile bike ride and a two-mile swim on Saturday, followed by a 30-mile bike ride, an 18-mile run and a two-mile swim on Sunday.
Alliance Capital's Mr. Baker is the faster triathlete of the two, Mr. Love acknowledged. Mr. Baker competed in the Hawaii Iron Man this year and was ranked 10th in his age group for the entire year of competitions in 1994.
"I have slipped since then due to an overwhelming travel schedule," Mr. Baker said.
Mr. Baker also tries to promote the sport to others.
"It's a sport that involves a lot of camaraderie," and people might be surprised at how well they can do, he said. "Your body is an amazing storehouse of energy and endurance."
James Vogelzang, president of third-party marketer Vogelzang & Associates Inc., Denver, takes still another direction, spending much of his free time in a pursuit that grew out of his religious beliefs.
Mr. Vogelzang counsels prisoners on reforming their lives through Christianity. "Some of my best friends now are in prison," he said.
Working as a mentor to prisoners and ex-convicts, Mr. Vogelzang said he finds great reward in helping even hardened criminals reform their lives. "I've watched grown men weep in my office," he said. "That makes landing a $100 million pension account pale in comparison."
And Mr. Vogelzang commits 50% of corporate profits from his firm to his calling, he said. As part of that, he has formed a foundation that gives money to churches that bus family members to prison so they can visit incarcerated relatives.