PCAS Labs is involved in making our lives more comfortable as it its main focus lies in the lab testing of water and foods. With the number of diseases that are water-borne and air-borne, PCAS Labs does a major service to all in USA.
We caught up with Dr. Claudio Cardelli to speak about what led him to begin this business venture and his drive and motivation to emerge as a successful entrepreneur.
Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business.
– PCAS labs is an Environmental, Food and Chemical testing laboratory located in Los Angeles, CA. The company is the result of merging two well established laboratories: Pacific Coast Analytical Services and Aton Laboratories. We have been in business since 1992, serving small, medium and large companies in Southern California. The Major focus of the company lies in laboratory testing of water and foods.
Kindly give us a brief description about yourself.
– My name is Claudio Cardelli. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and I have lived in the US for most of my adult life. I have a B.S in Food Technology, a M.S. in Food Engineering and a Ph.D. in Food Science from UADE, Argentina; UNICAMP, Brazil and the University of Minnesota, respectively. I come from a very entrepreneurial and international family. I was always passionate about science. Major achievements include graduating Magna Cum Laude at UADE, passing in first place at UNICAMP and receiving a National award from the Institute of Food Technology while doing my Ph.D. at the University of MN. Major appointments in the corporate world include R&D and Management jobs at Nestle in Switzerland, Pillsbury and ConAgra Foods in the US. During these assignments, I led teams that introduced more than 100 innovative products in global markets. More recent achievements as CEO of PCAS labs include receiving the 2009 Small Business Award where only 10 companies were hand-picked from a pool of 20,000 in Southern California. Our company also received letters of recognition of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the United States Congress. Only this year our company has been featured on various TV programs including the History Channel and The Doctors .
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
I reached the top of my professional career at an early stage. I wanted to try something new and be able to decide my own future. The idea came when I visited the museum of the immigrants in Ellis Island , New York. My grandfather was Italian and used to talk about working hard, raising a family and owning your own home. This is nothing more than what people call here “The American Dream’ and I wanted this to be realized fully in America. The strong feeling of independence, freedom and self reliance that my grandfather taught me gave me the strength to face the uphill task of starting my own business.
How important have good employees been to your success?
A company is nothing more than a group of people working together towards a shared goal. Good employees are thus essential to the success of any business.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Make sure you have a true passion for what you are going to embark on as it will demand lots of sacrifices. Try to gain experience on a paid job (i.e. let someone else to pay for your learning.) Lastly, allow yourself space to make mistakes and quickly learn from them..
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would have learned English a lot earlier and tried to get more practical business education instead of being so technical.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Emotional intelligence, know your trade, lots of energy.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
– I give myself about 4 years.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
– Ten to twelve.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
– I haven’t been able to take as many vacations as I would like.
What motivates you?
– The need to excel and compete.
How do you generate new ideas?
– It has always been a natural thing that comes to me while trying to solve a problem.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
– My greatest fear is another financial meltdown. I manage fear through the practice of meditation. It is just another human sensation.
How do you define success?
– Being happy at the end of the day for knowing I have given my best in everything that I have done and people have recognized the value of my work.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
– Look for balance. Mental, physical and financial.
Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
– Initially funding came from selling a beautiful home and moving into a smaller one. Later, when we gained credit we used banks.
How do you build a successful customer base?
– Walk the talk.
How did you decide on the location for your business?
– This is a good question. My wife used to own a similar business and she had a non compete agreement signed, so we had to re-locate at least 50 miles away of the original site. We picked up a map and drew a big circle and we are now 52 miles of her old location.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
– I would like to talk to Theodore Roosevelt.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
– My grandfather and father.
Which book has inspired you the most?
– This one is hard as I read a lot… I like to read biographies, the one I liked a lot was Loius Pasteurs’
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
– I get to decide my own future.
To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
– The number one key is I work with my wife. She comes from a very entrepreneurial Japanese family. Five key elements are having a unique idea, having the skills to do what you set to do, being a quick learner, being able to recruit the right people, and have access to capital.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
– The first 3 years when we were having all kinds of difficulties and yet experiencing double digit growth.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
– Entrepreneurs have managed to overcome their fear of failure.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
– Networking, internet and trade shows. Internet had been the more popular form.
What kind of culture exists in your organization?
– I set myself to build a “learning organization” where every mistake is used as an opportunity to get better at what we do.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
– Hiring the wrong people, spending more than what I can afford, procrastinating when monitoring business finances.
How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
– Identify critical issues and closely supervise their execution. Be honest when carrying out damage control and make sure a corrective action is applied.
What are your hobbies?
– I like to exercise, cook international food and travel.
What makes you happy?
– Being busy. Making sure my employees at the end of the day go home happy working in a company that provides them with the necessary tools and environment to do their best possible job.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
– Not being able to take vacations for the last 6 years, being forced to do what is needed at all times including lots of menial tasks; trying to over-deliver when understaffed and under-resourced.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
– I admire companies like Google and Ideo.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
– Our company will continue to thrive by focusing on client needs and innovation. I want to devote my last years to tackling some of the big issues that society faces like energy and education.
What do you expect from your interaction with E-Brandz?
– I expect they embrace the work we are contracted for with the same passion and enthusiasm we put in our business and daily lives.