Like many college wrestlers, Scott Puzia ’77 can undoubtedly recall the panic of being pinned, seconds away from losing a match, then calling on a last surge of energy to topple his opponent. “Wrestling is a tough sport,” Puzia said. “You’re out there by yourself. It gives you the ability to withstand adversity.” It’s the same inner resourcefulness he draws on as an entrepreneur.
After working for other companies for 15 years, Puzia started Pharmaceutical Direct (www.pharmdirect.com) in Randolph in 1992. In 2007, the company had approximately $2 million in revenue. So if adversity comes his way, he’s ready.
Puzia started wrestling in his sophomore year at Roxbury High School in North Jersey, but the school was a powerhouse in wrestling, so he didn’t break the lineup until his senior year. That was the chance he needed—he was named district champ and grabbed second place in the regionals that year. Puzia went on to greater acclaim at TCNJ, where he transferred after a year at the University of Miami. “I met Mike Curry ’63, TCNJ wrestling coach at the time, and I said, ‘This is someone I want to wrestle for,’” he explained. His TCNJ record says it all—he was All-American twice and is in TCNJ’s Athletic Hall of Fame. “I went to every summer tournament you could think of,” he said, “so I really wrestled all year round. We had a very tough schedule—primarily Division I schools, which toughens you up for Division III nationals.”
After graduating, the New Jersey native worked at Bamberger’s (now Macys) for two years as a sales manager and then sold data processing services. In 1982, he moved into direct marketing for a word processing service bureau that had numerous pharmaceutical companies as clients. Ten years later, he left to launch Pharmaceutical Direct, which provides direct marketing services support for the pharmaceutical industry. Puzia’s firm counts about 15 of the top 20 pharmaceutical firms among its clients. The company helps with product launches, offers a loyalty card program, and performs market research for clients. In addition, Pharmaceutical Direct produces gift boxes for doctors to distribute to patients newly diagnosed with certain diseases, such as diabetes. “We sell programs,” Puzia said. He does it with eight employees, and subcontracts the printing, assembly, and other tasks.
Dose-Alert (www.dose-alert.com), which he introduced in 2007, is a device that beeps to remind consumers to take their medication on schedule. Puzia had seen similar products several years ago, improved on them, and may well have hit on the next big idea, since patient noncompliance is a major issue in the pharmaceutical industry. Consumers can buy Dose-Alert themselves, pre-programmed for their dosing schedule, or doctors can give it to patients along with a prescription. (In the latter case, the pharmaceutical company picks up the cost.) “It could be Pharmaceutical Direct’s signature item,” he said, “but it’s too early to tell.”
Puzia concedes he’s risking a lot on this product—well into six figures. Yet as he ticks off the costs, which include development and testing, marketing consulting, a separate Web site, and patent application, he doesn’t sound all that worried. After all, he knows what it’s like to go to the mat.