Donald “Don” Panoz is a serial entrepreneur, and a life full of creating successful businesses more than supports that statement.
Among that long list of successes is his role as co-founder of global pharmaceuticals company Mylan in 1961, as well as founder of a host of domestic and international businesses. Panoz will speak in the College of Business and Economics Distinguished Speaker Series on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at West Virginia University’s Erickson Alumni Center at 6 p.m.
Panoz was never afraid of work. He set pins in a bowling alley as a kid in the 1940s. He was never afraid of a business venture. Stationed in the Japan in the U.S. Army in the 1950s, he sold exchange cars to GIs being discharged and founded a football shrine bowl event between American soldiers and Japanese college all-stars, with proceeds going to a local orphanage. And he was never short on ideas.
He co-founded the company then known as Milan Pharmaceuticals in 1961 with Army buddy Milan “Mike” Puskar in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and was the youngest president of a pharmaceutical company in the United States. Milan would evolve into Mylan — a company that now sells an estimated 1,300 products to more than 140 countries and territories around the world.
“Mr. Panoz has a vast entrepreneurial mind, and we’re very fortunate to give our student and University communities access to such a successful individual,” said Jose ‘Zito’ Sartarelli, B&E Milan Puskar Dean. “He is a great example of what our Distinguished Speaker Series is and the benefits it provides to our students.”
Panoz diversified even more in the 1970s, creating Elan Corp. in Ireland, a chain of 24 health and beauty aids shops in Ireland and an animal medical devices company. The 1980s included his founding of Elan Pharmaceutical in Georgia, and Elan would become the first Irish company to be listed on the U.S. stock exchange. He opened a winery in Georgia and housing developments in the ‘80s. In the 1990s, sports was the name of the game: Panoz founded Club Elan golf clubs and balls; the Gene Sarazen World Open Golf Tournament; St. Andrew Bay Hotel and golf courses in Scotland; three major race tracks in George, Florida and Canada; Elan Motors; and the American Le Mans Racing Series. Additionally, he founded Hydromentia, a water cleaning process, the Panoz Institute at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, the Chateau Elan Hotel/Spa in Australia, and became chairman and CEO of Secor, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Canada.
After the new millennium, he became a managing partner of Delta Wing Car race and street versions, and chairman of NanoLumens, a designer and manufacturer of unique, design-specific, large-format LED displays to create digital signage solutions in any size, shape or curvature.
On Nov. 16, 2013, Panoz was welcomed into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame at induction ceremonies in Atlanta. The organization has inducted such individuals as P.T. Barnum, America’s second millionaire; Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics; Warren Buffet; Richard Branson, founder of many companies bearing the “Virgin” trademark; Andrew Carnegie; Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Field Cookies; Thomas Edison; Henry Ford; Bill Gates; and Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop. In all, there are only 29 inductees in the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.
For more information on this event or the B&E Distinguished Speaker Series, please visit be.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics
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