“In 2010, there was a lot of resistance initially to these two semi Italians from different backgrounds taking over, which I understood. Speaking different languages, acting in a very different way, as we started work. There were lots of people who had been on the rally scene far longer that we had and were not prepared for two young entrepreneurs coming in saying we want to be part of this. Naturally they were saying, ‘who are these people?’
“We had to win hearts and minds. I genuinely think the determination we put into our efforts combined with our resolve into turning it around, making it professional with accountability, really helped the rally community understand that we were serious.
“We created proper jobs with salaries, we did what we felt was required which we believe has helped make HERO become what it is today.
“It has taken a great deal of time, effort, and I tell you a lot of money as well. I won’t deny at the very beginning there were a couple of times when I went home and my wife Louisa would say to me ‘by the way we have school fees coming in plus all these other costs,’ and I thought my god where do you draw the line on this idea/passion? It is difficult taking an idea, getting it to walk then run.
“It took a long time to become profitable but it’s a business that needs volume to make money, yet despite the struggle we never ever thought of giving up, we just realised we needed to do something else so we could both survive personally and keep HERO going. Hence the reason that Consortium Capital Group branched out into real estate activity and shipping activities, along with other branches of business that have since become successful in their own right. HERO was always a retirement plan; we want to run it and enjoy it until we get old.”
The analogy of the wealthy entrepreneur who loves sport, then indulges their passion by buying a football club only to lose their shirt, was put to Patrick as a possible comparison. Was this the heart rather than the head despite having great business records outside of their passion?
“Not in our case, we both shared the enthusiasm and made a big effort, even though it wasn’t quite the business we first thought. We both knew it was going to be a tough one there was no doubt, but you couldn’t do it unless you had genuine passion with objectivity. On one side you lose interest if you don’t have the passion and could be caught out. The guy who just buys the football club for cash for profit or is just blinded by his favourite club, that’s not us.
“For me and Tomas it was about building the one stop shop platform, the one port of call and becoming the voice of the legislators in this sector. It’s about bringing heritage back; we are heritage minded.” As indeed are Patrick’s family who have a proud, strong link to the ancient past, tracked and traced.
Patrick; “Ours is a very old Irish family. Originally, we landed on these islands with the Normans and William the Conqueror, called the de Burgos (meaning from the fort) we were granted lands in NW Ireland, Galway, where there are still many castles left which belonged to the family. These concentric Norman towers were the responsibility of the Burke tribes with the McWilliams Chieftains to provide a fortified trade route. Portumna Castle was built by Richard Burke the 4th Earl of Clanricarde in 1610, there is another for sale but they want silly money for it. The towers were tall and imposing, my children just call them ‘chimneys’ but it was our eldest, Henry, who came up with an idea of how to avoid spending a fortune on a ‘chimney’, ‘just go over there and steal a tower brick, when you bring it back you have a bit of our history right here.’
“They were eventually awarded various titles, my branch were the Earls of Clanricarde, my line comes from them. The Burkes were behind the composition of Burke’s Peerage for example, listing the landed gentry, that came from our family. We are directly related to the philosopher Edmund Burke who lived in the 18th century which is why at least one male in each successive family takes the Christian name Edmund, my grandfather and my brother are called Edmund.
“There is also a history of shipping in the family, we have been involved in the business for around 180 years. My great, great grandfather, Sir John Burke who was a Council General of five countries naturally travelled a lot and spoke many languages. He became acquainted with a coal rich trade area in the Mediterranean which he saw as an opportunity. He started a shipping company back in Ireland and then sent one of his eight children, a son, my great grandfather, to Italy. That’s when the Italian business started in Genoa, continued by my grandfather and father. But my father had it a bit tough. His father and then his sister died leaving him to look after his mother and run the business at the age of 21. He went to London and met with Viscount Runciman, a close friend of my grandfather, who ran a successful shipping business at the time and worked for him learning the ropes before returning to Italy, rebuilding the business into Burke & Novi.
He was very good at what he did as Burke & Novi became one of the leading ship broking companies in the world. He sold before he died in 2018 but I wanted the name to continue in shipping. I’d already had thought about it and started Consortium Maritime Trading in 2014 with Philippe van den Abeele. Consortium Maritime Trading is slightly different as we don’t own ships any more but trade futures contracts on freight charges and shipping routes. It’s virtual shipping really.”
An alliance with a different aristocratic family became a reality when Patrick fell in love with and married Baroness Louisa Freytag von Loringhoven, the Granddaughter of Baron Wessel Freytag von Loringhoven who with along with Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, tried to kill Hitler on the 20th July 1944 attempt. Patrick; “He was a war hero in his own right, when I went with Louisa to Berlin we visited the museum and saw pictures of him and the letter he wrote to his wife before he killed himself rather than risk giving away his co-conspirators. He had been heavily involved, producing the detonators and sourcing British explosives for the bombs to try and avoid a trace.
“Louisa has been working for the Art Loss Register since before we got married. She has been tracing and restituting stolen art, managing to be quite successful with art stolen or sold under duress during the Holocaust years, to a degree I assume that was because of her grandfather. She nearly joined Scotland Yard in the Arts and Antique squad as a special constable but had to stop early due to the birth of our first son Henry.” Could she resume her career? “not really, it’s too long now, a shame as I was looking forward to the handcuffs!”
“Louisa and I also share the love of classic cars; her father is a car collector. She is an excellent driver too having competed in the Mille Miglia with her father in the 328 Frazer Nash BMW, she is much quicker than me on the school run!
“My passion for cars was always there. I was lucky to be able to start driving with my mother and father when I was 12, there was hardly any traffic where we lived, then at school one of the teachers had a 1500cc Triumph Spitfire, he once let me drive it! I will always remember the sensation, I loved it, you were so low, you had to work hard at the steering wheel it was a like a go-kart. I thought as soon as I get my driving licence a Spitfire will be my first car, I stuck to it, but my father refused to buy it so I had to save up doing all sorts of summer jobs whilst at University. But I paid way too much for it and it wasn’t a particularly good car, I didn’t have the experience then but it was a valuable lesson for the future. Despite that I enjoyed the car, I used to go around London in it, it was Tahiti blue with shocking orange peel paintwork but the girls loved it. I had a sticker on the back saying ‘Passion Wagon, don’t laugh your daughter may be in it!’