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20 to Know

By: Brian Budzynski and Jeff Falk
Posted: January 5, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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“In today’s market, as in life,” says Stacher, “having the ability to very quickly recognize, understand and assess challenges and opportunities, and implement timely, innovative and effective solutions is paramount to success. And if you have a sense of humor and can have fun in the process—all the better.” Made “manifest” in both the company’s philosophy and its choice of business relationships was the understanding that Stacher & Stacher was not merely looking for stepping stones toward ever larger fish, but sustainable and rewarding engagement with each and every client, regardless of size or reach.

Targeted partnerships throughout the intervening years—which have included Rogan NY, producer of a “green” clothing line; Blue Q, multiline maker of giftware and bath and beauty products, including the Dirty Girl line; Victoria’s Secret; Bath & Body Works; Target; Playboy, Inc.; and Teany Beverages, an iced tea manufacturer owned in part by Grammy-winning artist Moby—finally culminated in Stacher bringing to market his own product line. Enter Green Tea Goods Natural Hand Refresher and Cleanser, a line of bath and body products utilizing the age-old power of Chinese herbs. Handcrafted with purified spring water, green tea, licorice root and the company’s Special Herbal Blend, the product is aimed at the hand sanitizer market, offering effective use with only 12% alcohol.

Why is Barney Stacher someone “to know?” Perhaps his rational for choosing his job title offers the best example of his perpetual forward-thinking approach to both today and tomorrow. Eschewing the common president and CEO, Stacher instead went with Director of How and Why, explaining that, “I believe everyone should be able to answer the questions, ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ [Secondly,] it also provokes the questions, ‘What does that mean? What do you do?’—which allows me the opportunity to engage in a unique and thought-provoking conversation with anyone I meet.”

Herb Ravitz, Founder, Universal Preserv-a-chem Inc.

There are few among us who can reflect on the changes that have occurred during more than 50 years in the personal care industry. Of that number, fewer still are active participants in today’s complex business environment. Herb Ravitz has seen it all and then some. Ravitz is the founder of Universal Preserv-a-chem Inc. (UPI), a New Jersey-based distributor of additives and ingredients for hair care and skin care.

“In my time, the globalization of the industry through the use of the Internet has been stunning, opening up markets and fueling Universal’s development,” says Ravitz. “Our customer base regularly demands new and innovative technologies. I’ve witnessed a transition into more natural and green product offerings that require levels of technical specialization never imagined years ago.”

In reflecting on the past, Ravitz still looks ahead: “I’m proud of UPI’s growth through difficult economic cycles and transitions in the chemical and personal care industries. I believe in the future of small, highly focused chemical companies. Moving forward, even more will be expected of suppliers to keep up with consumer requirements.”

Sam Dhatt, President and CEO, DermaQuest

Twenty dollars, 20 years and more than a little drive—Sam Dhatt is the kind of success story worth noting in any walk of life. After earning an master’s degree in chemistry and an MBA in marketing and finance in his native India, Dhatt moved his growing family to the U.S. with $20 in his pocket. Shortly after the relocation, he obtained an entry-level position as a cosmetic formulator and became the lead chemist within a few years. He began to then make his mark uncovering and developing new technologies in his work with alpha hydroxy acids in 1992, which, he says, was in its infancy at the time.

By 1995, Dhatt had started his own cosmetics research and development company, Allure Cosmetics, Inc., concentrating on antiaging products. After formulating and manufacturing more than 700 skin care products, Dhatt had decided it was time to create a line that leveraged the product insights he had gained—creating DermaQuest in 1999 and committing to advancing the practical science of skin care.

Ada Polla, Co-creator, President and CEO, Alchimie Forever

Ada Polla—the Swiss-born president and CEO of Alchimie Forever, a global cosmeceutical skin care brand—has called Estée Lauder one of her business role models, noting that Lauder involved herself in all aspects of the business (including selling creams to women in department stores). “She was a huge believer in putting herself out there, and she never worried if she had gotten in over her head.”

Since launching her brand as a 17-SKU line, she has been the driving force behind the business’s development and expansion—establishing international distribution and driving the company’s double-digit annual revenue growth—and is doing a fair impression of Lauder by “putting herself out there.”