Second Annual Pace Pitch Contest
Founder and Chairman, Oreck Corporation
Cynthia W. Massarsky
President, CWM Marketing Group
Vice President, Small Business Lending, Chase Small Business Financial Services
Vice President, Research Management, Gerson Lehrman Group
additional judges to be announced
David Oreck is the 79-year-old founder and chairman of Oreck Corporation, the manufacturer of high quality, premium vacuum cleaners. For five decades, he has been the company's chief spokesman, appearing in newspaper, magazine, television and radio advertisements across the country. He was recently named one of the country's most recognized personalities.
Mr. Oreck traces his devotion to his company's products to his 50 years as an airplane pilot. Mr. Oreck avers, "Like airplanes, great vacuums must be light, powerful, dependable, brilliantly designed and exceptionally engineered." He maintains a fleet of vintage airplanes, including a one-of-a-kind 1944 Beech Staggerwing.
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, David Oreck headed for the excitement of New York City after flying combat missions for the Army Air Force in World War II in a B-29. At 21, he landed a job selling RCA radios, televisions and phonographs. He rose through the ranks at RCA and accompanied RCA founder David Sarnoff to Washington, DC, for Congressional hearings on setting technical standards for a newfangled invention: color television. When RCA needed a new distributor in New Orleans, a poor-performing market, Mr. Oreck jumped at the opportunity. In two years time, he turned it around and went from last to first place.
In 1963, David Oreck established Oreck Corporation, first selling upright vacuum cleaners to the hotel industry. At the time, hotel maids and janitors were burdened with heavy and bulky machines that were cumbersome and difficult to maneuver. Workers were delighted with Oreck's light but powerful upright, and eventually, they began purchasing the machines for home use. From there, word spread quickly to the public about a product that would make vacuuming easier and more effective. Today, his most popular product, the upright Oreck XL, weighs a mere eight pounds.
Mr. Oreck is proud of his company's other innovations, such as his products' hypoallergenic qualities (much sooner than "indoor air quality" concerns became a national concern) and the ability for a vacuum cleaner to switch from cleaning bare floors to rugs without having to switch attachments.
Recently, a satisfied customer wrote to David Oreck and said, "How do I get my teenager to clean his room with the vacuum?" Mr. Oreck designed an upright vacuum cleaner with an FM radio and headphones in the handle.
Today, Oreck Corporation employs 1,500 people, who work at its New Orleans headquarters and its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Long Beach, Mississippi.
Cynthia W. Massarsky is president of CWM Marketing Group, a management consulting firm specializing in marketing and new business development for the nonprofit sector. She was the creator and co-director of the National Business Plan Competition for Nonprofit Organizations housed at Yale University, which garnered more than 1,600 entrants and 1,000 pro bono evaluators over a three year period. Massarsky is also president and founder of SocialReturns, Inc., a nonprofit organization started in November 2005 to educate people about social enterprise and entrepreneurship and help innovative nonprofit, philanthropic, and private sector organizations build their entrepreneurial skills and use them to affect positive and lasting social change.
Charles Ryan has over 17 years of Commercial Banking experience with a focus on Small Business finance. Mr. Ryan has held various positions in Small Business Banking for JP Morgan Chase and has been the Market Manager for the Westside of Manhattan for the past 3 years. He manages 6 Area Managers and 57 Small Business Relationship Managers and is responsible for acquiring new customers and the relationship management of existing Small Business clients. Mr. Ryan holds a BBA and MBA in Financial Management from Pace University in New York and is a member of the International Honor Society in Economics.
Jim Sharpe is a Vice President of Research Management at Gerson Lehrman Group, where he directs the firm's Energy & Industrials practice. He is a co-founder of Lux Capital, a venture firm focusing on nanotechnology, where he served as a Managing Partner. Prior to Lux Capital, Jim worked as a Real Estate Banking Analyst at Salomon Smith Barney. Jim graduated from the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce with a BS in Finance and Japanese. Jim serves on the Board of Lux Research.