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Berg provides fertile ground for harvesting entrepreneurs

F rank Baldino '75 knew he wanted to run his own business, but being an entrepreneur was only a small part of his lifelong vision.

“I believed that I could change the practice of medicine,” he says. “I wanted to bring different products and a better quality of life to patients.”

With this desire in mind, Baldino raised enough venture capital in 1987 to establish Cephalon, a pharmaceutical company that develops innovative therapeutics to help people suffering from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Today West Chester-based Cephalon is a $4 billion market cap company that has 11 operations worldwide and reports $500 million in annual sales. The company, which joined the NASDAQ 100 this year, has three FDA-approved drugs for sale in the U.S. market, with 14 other drugs available in European pharmaceutical markets.

Baldino admits he was probably an average student at Muhlenberg, where he majored in biology. However, he says the school’s strong academic standards enabled him to excel in his graduate school studies at Temple University, where he earned his doctorate in pharmacology in 1980.

Being an entrepreneur means he has had to deal more with the business side of science and hire staff to handle the science side, but he says the tradeoff is worth it.

“You get to have a bigger impact in this role. To know that you’re helping millions of people because they are using your products, that’s something special.”

While Baldino waited more than a decade after graduating college to realize his entrepreneurial dream, Harvey Stein simply couldn’t wait. Since the day he graduated from Muhlenberg as a business major in 1957, Stein has been involved in all kinds of entrepreneurial ventures, from mergers and acquisitions to real estate to even boats and marine equipment.

He is the founder and owner of HLS Enterprises, which is based in Annapolis, Md. There are many facets to the international company, but Stein, an admittedly very private person, says the company primarily manufactures home decorative products such as silver-plated gifts and also is involved in the office furniture and heating industries.

“It’s all I’ve ever done,” he says of his proprietary ambitions. “It’s about being responsible for your own achievements and your own failures. It’s called learning life lessons.”

What he learned at Muhlenberg, he says, has stayed with him and has helped him in all his enterprises.

“The most important thing is to understand where you fit in the broader scheme of life and to know what is important. Believe in yourself, and always remember to give back.”

Sam Calagione '92, meanwhile, believed that he could be the best… writer, not entrepreneur. But the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth, Del., found his success selling suds, not short stories.

Dogfish Head, which has a second location in Milton, Del., produces 3,100 gallons of microbrewed beer daily, employs more than 40 people and sells its products in 18 states. (Those alums in and around the Lehigh Valley can find Dogfish Head beer at Tanczos Beverages in Bethlehem.) There are always 10 types of microbrews on tap at the Rehoboth location (which is part restaurant, part distillery and part brewery) with names like Shelter Pale Ale and Raison D’etre (a Belgian-style beer) ready to tempt customers’ palates.

Calagione says the timing was right when he started the company in 1995.

“The craft brewing industry was in its nascent period then, and it seemed like a sound, growing industry. I knew I could grow beer on my stove, and I had the confidence that I could run my own microbrewery. Still, it was fun being a 25-year-old English major going to my bank and saying that I wanted to start my own brewery.”

He got the money, moved from his New York apartment and got the business started in Rehoboth. He says the company’s total revenues in its first year were $600,000; for 2002, he estimates them to be around $3.2 million.

As a sponsor of his class’s 10-year reunion earlier this year, Calagione distributed his prized Dogfish Head beer to his former classmates. “Everyone was really complimentary and excited that we were doing well.”

Like Calagione, Nils Huehnergarth ‘81 was an English major residing in New York who didn’t plan on becoming an entrepreneur. Instead, Huehnergarth thought he would one day work for a large advertising agency. But after gaining experience working for two marketing companies that, respectively, created traveling exhibits and staged live events using actors and multimedia, he decided to branch out on his own.

In 1992, he created Static and Motion Productions, an interactive marketing communications firm that uses multimedia, events, video and exhibits “to inform or inspire a particular audience,” Huehnergarth says. The company lists American Express, Disney and Kraft Foods among its high-profile clients.

He says he learned all the mechanics of running a business simply by doing them. The workload hasn’t stopped him from being an innovator. He won the 2002 Best New Meeting Technology Award from EIBTM (European Incentive Business Travel and Meetings) after inventing a new way to deliver interactive video to large audiences.

“Muhlenberg gave me a well-rounded education and equipped me to be a generalist, and I think that’s one way that an entrepreneur can achieve success, by knowing a little about a lot of things,” he says.

That’s one piece of advice Marah Ritchey ‘02 is likely to use. She just graduated from Muhlenberg with degrees in both economics and business and says she would like to own her own financial consulting firm someday. She’s on the right track, working for Salomon, Smith Barney as a sales assistant.

When Ritchey worked in the alumni office at Muhlenberg, she spoke with numerous alumni who went on to enjoy successful entrepreneurial ventures. She says those talks inspired her to continue with her lifelong dream.

“The one thing that all of us have in common is that we don’t want to work for anyone else. We have the diligence and the ambition. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to have three to four failures, but you just keep going and know you’re going to learn from everything you do.”

She sounds like another Muhlenberg entrepreneur in the making.

Tom Harper is a freelance writer.


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