Q&A with Peter Nesbitt, president of Quasar Bio-Tech, Inc.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced?
When you’re in start-ups, cash is always the biggest challenge. You have to make sure that you can pay the bills and make the payroll and pay for benefits. When I was with a start-up years ago, I got a call while I was on vacation to say that our largest customer had just dropped. That was a challenge. But you don’t quit. You have to have intestinal fortitude—grit and determination—and be nimble. Don’t get locked into something, because things change: life, business, customers, consumer demand. You have to be prepared to move on a dime. With that particular example, we had a new account two weeks later, and proceeded as if nothing had happened.
Get-up-and-go is a big factor in start-ups too: You have to have energy and share your enthusiasm for what you’re doing with employees, customers and vendors. It really helps overcome some of the downsides of the business that you inevitably face.
How is Quasar unique?
On day one, I remember standing before a sketchboard and asking, ‘What are we going to do; what are we going to be?’ Our goal was to produce the best light therapy devices on the market to reduce wrinkles and acne. It was important for us to focus on quality and offer strong warranties and customer support, and to make the products in the USA. That was our mantra right from the beginning. We’ve treasured our reputation over the years and it’s worked very successfully for us.
Who would you most like to meet?
Howard Schultz, the chairman and CEO of Starbucks. He’s like a mentor from afar… he’s a good businessman but also a good man. And Bill Gates: I admire him not just for his business acumen but for what he’s done since he retired from Microsoft, setting up the foundation with his wife, Melinda. Plus writers I love, like Lee Child, as well as Plato and Socrates.
What’s your favorite part of the work day and why?
Mornings. My brain has had all night to relax, so mornings are my most creative time. A lot of what I do now is creative—I have to come up with ideas for products and marketing, and just try to keep things moving.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d be taller! I’m five foot seven but I should’ve been six foot! Also, I’m pretty tough on myself: I’m introspective and I question myself, even though I’ve been successful in just about everything I’ve done.
How do you manage to strike a work-life balance?
It can be a huge challenge when you’re at a start-up. I was raising four children at the time, and I came up with the idea of coaching them in soccer, from when they were five all the way up to their teens. It meant that every week I spent time with them doing something active and enjoyable. It worked for us: We still talk to each other!
Who is your mentor?
There have been several influential people over the years. One was Dr. Leonard Wallner, who had a medical office down the hall from one of my earlier businesses. Every day we’d sit and chat. He was such a wonderful man—very caring and thoughtful. His advice and his outlook were very inspirational. Before that was John Madigan—he was my boss before I started my own company. He taught me a lot about business as I was starting out in management.
Tell us about the company’s plans for the future.
Right now we’re looking at growing internationally. We’re entering Europe; we’ve been in the U.K. and are expanding into the continent. We’re already in certain parts of Asia, and we plan to expand there greatly. We’re also launching healing and massage products over the next quarter.
What’s your earliest memory?
I remember playing in the woods in Westchester, New York, when I was very young—I couldn’t have been more than three years old. I have this vague memory of the trees and a porch made out of tree limbs, with a swing. The whole image is very rustic.
What are your favorite films?
You’ve Got Mail and Notting Hill. I love the urban settings, the city environments and the romance. I read and write screenplays—and both of these examples are beautifully written.
What song sums you up?
Isn’t Life Strange by The Moody Blues. There’s sadness, longing and deeply felt emotion— it has everything!
What’s your favorite food?
Pie! I make great apple, pumpkin, cherry and coconut cream varieties!
What’s your personal mantra?
The unexamined life is not worth living [attributed to Socrates].