Local Jewish entrepreneurs participated on a panel, Conversations: Perspectives on Leadership, Success and Community, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, for United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Society of Professionals. The gathering, sponsored by Insco Insurance and moderated by Danny Rubin, featured Nathan Drory, president of Charles Barker Automotive; Dr. Holly Puritz, OB/GYN and president of The Group for Women; and Jeffrey Saunders, CEO of Coppermine Bakery.
From humble beginnings, Nathan Drory moved to Tidewater from Israel as a teen, became a landscaper and then a delivery driver for a pet supply firm before joining Charles Barker Automotive in its early days. Thirty-five years later, as co-owner of the automotive group with more than 450 employees, Drory meets with a multitude of employees daily—sometimes for coffee or passing conversation—all while letting them know, he too, has the same work goals in mind. He says he believes that maintaining positive morale, while providing excellent customer service is key to running a successful business.
Holly Puritz MD, grew up in New Jersey and made her way to Norfolk to complete a medical residency at EVMS before joining a once all-male OB/GYN practice at The Group for Women. She has served as the firm’s practice leader and president for 10 years. In addition to her administrative responsibilities, Puritz maintains a rigorous schedule seeing between 30 and 35 patients each day and continues to deliver babies. She often tells her daughter that one can’t say no to everything. As a business leader, she says it is important to see opportunity in crisis to transform challenges into successes.
Jeff Saunders, who at 19 was an intern at NBC radio in NYC and eventually worked for former communications firm MCI, was slated for a promotion when he got the call from his father to help in the family-owned Dunkin Donuts (DD) business. After a year in the business, Saunders realized the potential to reverse an 80% donut to 20% coffee revenue because there was significantly more revenue in coffee. He also convinced DD executives to test market a variety of food products. Soon with a first child on the way, he traded the baker’s schedule and sold out of the franchise before establishing Coppermine Bakery. Through acquisitions, he now has 1,100 employees with sites in seven states, which supply sweet goods to Starbucks, Wegmans, Holiday Inn Express, 4,500 7-11 stores, and others.
Saunders says he believes the janitor is as important in senior level employees. Each comes with their own set of responsibilities to make his company successful.
Drory credits his successes with having a reputation of doing things the right way. In fact, his company’s expansion has been driven by dealerships who have come to Charles Barker to be acquired. Drory says, “We don’t seek them out. Owners of other dealerships know our reputation for doing business, while honoring their brand and treating employees well.”
Puritz finds a way to say yes. “’Yes requires action and engagement, but becomes easier with time, especially if you are a can-do individual with a reputation for making things happen. The more you say yes to, the more you learn.”
– Stacey Neuman, co-chair, UJFT Society of Professionals