Marcia and I met Danny Temkin in a building which covers eight football fields. His office in that building had a stunning view of the snow clad Wasatch Moutains east of Payson, UT.
Before we met Mr. Temkin, we were taken on a tour of his manufacturing facility just west of I-15 in Payson. It was a jaw dropping experience for me.
Tens of millions of dollars of sophisticated machinery, many millions of dollars in inventory and more millions of newly manufactured goods sit on ten acres under a giant roof.
Twenty-four hours a day, 300 employees produce hundreds of different kinds of packages and containers. The plant turns out over two million containers a day which are shipped all over the world.
Joe Bradford, sales representative, put Marcia and me in a six-seat golf cart and drove miles in the gargantuan building showing us the process. It was mind-boggling. But what was even more impressive than the physical plant and the production was the story of its owner, Danny Temkin.
Danny was born in Guatamala. When he was ten his parents moved to Israel. At age 20 Danny moved alone to California. He was virtually penniless. He wanted the opportunity to chase the American Dream.
He cut cellophane for flowers as his first job. He married a Utah girl who grew up in the Payson area. While wrapping flowers, it occurred to Danny that if he used a different material to wrap the flowers, it would be just as good and it would be less expensive.
So in his garage in California, he started his business. He bet his meager savings on the venture. He succeeded.
He moved out of the garage to a small building. He continued to grow. His head was bursting with ideas. He worked 18-hour days for years. He borrowed as much as the banks would lend. He took enormous risks. He hired good people. He had a natural ability with complex machinery and actually designed and built many of the huge machines that now whir and hum and clank in his manufacturing facilities. It takes 14 full-time highly skilled maintenance men on 24 hour notice just to keep the machines running. If one machine breaks down it could shut the entire production line down. Machine failure is not an option in a Temkin plant.
Wanting to have a better place to raise his family, he moved to Payson and has since built one of the largest manufacturing plants in the State. He now has plants in Toronto, Canada; Miami; and Bogata, Columbia. Despite the fact that he could retire a VERY wealthy man, Joe told us Danny is usually the first employee on the job in the morning and often leaves very late at night.
Mr. Temkin loves what he does and his work ethic and his genius have resulted in success that even he has a hard time believing. If I were a betting man, I would bet Danny Temkin is a billionaire. All this from a man who spoke English as a second language, started with no money, no college education and had the ever-present pressure of a growing family to feed when he started his business 30 years ago.
Mr. Temkin was so gracious to us. Humble and kind, he treated us like we were the only people in his universe the day we met.
I have never met Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or any of the other billionaires who started businesses in their garages. But of all the successful men I have met and visited with, I think Mr. Temkin exemplifies the “American Dream” as well as anyone I know. He is a dozen years younger than I am. What an inspiration!
Could he have accomplished his life’s dream in any other country? Maybe…But more people do it in the USA than anywhere else in the world and there is a reason. We call it Freedom!
I pray the 2012 elections will knock some sense in to those who seem determined to change much of what has made America great. Discouraging the future entrepreneurs of America through the inevitable taxation and bureaucratic regulation which will result from the course we are now on in Washington could be the death knell of our future.
America has become the envy of the world, precisely because our capitalistic society has given our best and brightest the encouragement and support they must have to succeed. Daniel Temkin is an inspirational example of what can happen in America.