Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Rogers Goes from M*A*S*H to EZ Serve

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Rogers Goes from M*A*S*H to EZ Serve

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Fans of the hit television program M*A*S*H remember Wayne Rogers as Trapper John, one of the glib, cocky surgeons helping America win the Korean War. They probably wouldn't recognize him any more.

Today, Rogers spends most of his time far from Hollywood. He is the chief executive of a privately owned company called EZ Serve, which has 500 convenience stores in seven southeastern states and 4,700 employees.

For Rogers, 65, playing the real-life role of an executive appears to be a work in progress. "As my wife said to me the other day, `Do you realize you are the chairman and CEO of a company with 4,000 employees?" Rogers said with a smile. "I said, `Oh my gosh,' and with that in my mind, I went and hid under my desk." Rogers sees a difference between his success as an actor and as a corporate executive. "Hollywood is like Washington, a town built on perception, not reality," he told the Bloomberg Forum. "Ultimately, I think (business) is very satisfying because it's not based on someone's opinion, whether you are bad or good or indifferent. You've got an absolute measuring rod. In Hollywood, you're subject to everyone's opinion. Everybody is a critic." Rogers grew up in a small town in Alabama and went from there to Princeton University. He later moved to New York to study acting and look for work in the theater and television. "I started out waiting tables at Schrafft's on 42nd Street, so you know I had some understanding of what a buck was in those days. I mean, the subway was 10 cents." By the 1960s, the television industry had moved to Hollywood, and Rogers moved west, looking for bigger and better parts in TV shows and movies. It was in California that his interest in business and investing grew. "When I first went to Hollywood, many years ago, I determined that if I was going to lose my money, I wanted to be the author of my own demise," he said. "So, I said, `I'm going to take an interest in this and teach myself.'" He started small and gradually moved on to bigger game. "I bought a house out of bankruptcy from the bank, turned it around, carried the furniture around myself, filled it up, and that was the first `successful' business venture," he said. …

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