As an Economics student at Illinois State University in the 1980s, Robert Roche learned a concept that would form the foundation of his future business strategy: the marginal cost of business expansion. The concept involves growing new businesses from one original investment. In 1993, he founded an innovative brand response company, Oak Lawn Marketing, which was the start of an enormously successful career. Over the next 30 years, as President of Roche Enterprises, Roche helped launch nearly 100 businesses across a variety of sectors.
Oak Lawn Marketing, named after Roche’s hometown of Oak Lawn, Illinois, started as a small import company and grew into a billion-dollar business in the Japanese direct marketing industry. With his intuitive business sense and entrepreneurial spirit, Roche expanded Oak Lawn Marketing into a huge telemarketing operation and eventually created a number of successful businesses under the Oak Lawn Marketing umbrella. He continues to serve as the Executive Chairman and President of Oak Lawn Marketing, and he is also the founder and Executive Chairman of Acorn International, a leading media and branding company in China that he co-founded in 1997. The two companies have generated more than $10 billion in sales.
In 2004, Roche entered the hospitality segment when he helped finance and launch the award-winning URBN Hotel in Shanghai. URBN was China’s first carbon-neutral hotel and was built of recycled materials from 1920s-era Shanghai buildings. Following this success, he launched a second hotel in Shanghai— Cachet Boutique. In 2013, Roche established the Cachet Hotel Group, an international hospitality management company that oversees URBN, Cachet Boutique, and many other hotels spanning the globe. He has served as Chairman of the Board since 2013.
Roche is also a co-founder of IS Seafood, a company that imports Icelandic fish to China using state-of-the-art processing and packaging techniques. In 2008, he assumed ownership of Redhorse Performance, a manufacturer and distributor of hoses, adaptors, and accessories for high performance cars. In 2013, he helped establish TAG Capital, a boutique capital advisory firm specializing in cross-border transactions throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and he currently serves as co-chairman of the company. He is also one of the primary investors in KraneShares, a provider of ETFs for early stage Chinese start-ups.
Roche has applied his hospitality and business expertise to the real estate segment, managing large real estate holdings in the U.S and abroad. In Utah, Roche developed Sand Hollow Resort, an award-winning golf resort, and Green River Companies, a 5,000-acre farm in the Green River, Utah. He founded Gallup Land Partners, a 26,000-acre development in Gallup, New Mexico, that includes the Gallup Energy Logistics Park, a BNSF-certified industrial park, as well as a variety of residential and commercial properties. In addition, he is developing HoKua place in Kauai, Hawaii, a 96-acre residential development.
Most recently, Roche co-founded Green Rock Hemp Holdings (GRHH) with his son. The company is a vertically integrated solutions provider to the industrial hemp community. GRHH and its affiliates—GeneticsCubed, Red Dune Seed, Mesa Rising Hemp Farms, and Red Mesa Science & Refining—provide farmers, consumer goods producers, and end customers with the highest quality products and solutions. In addition, through Enhanced Botanicals, LLC, the company offers the Puraura Naturals line of hemp-derived CBD retail products for health & wellness and cosmetic applications.
Roche earned his degree in Economics and Japanese studies from Illinois State University. While an undergraduate, he attended Nanzan University in Japan as an exchange student. Following graduation, he attended The University of Denver Sturm College of Law and returned to Nanzan University as a graduate exchange student from 1986 through 1987. He earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1988.
Roche is married with three children and spends time in China, Japan, and the United States. He is fluent in Japanese and proficient in Mandarin Chinese.
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