By: Director of Athletic Communications & Public Relations Kevin Ruple
BEREA, Ohio -- A successful entrepreneur and businessman must be able to think "outside the box". Current Baldwin Wallace University trustee and Alumni Athletic Association Hall of Famer Wade Massad '89, a managing partner at Cleveland Capital Management, has never had a problem with thinking "outside the box". Thirty-one years ago, Massad thought outside the box and it earned a spot on the ABC College Football Game of the Week for himself and helped pay for the college expenses for a number of his fraternity brothers.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
In the fall of 1988, Massad parlayed a collegiate football career that led to Division III All-America status, and more importantly, led to his "thinking outside the box". During the time he was at BW, the Cleveland Browns were a force in the NFL and its defense was known as the Dawgs. Massad had an idea that eventually grew into a successful and very profitable endeavor.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA
His idea was the capitalize on the fervent fans of the Browns and Cleveland and the Dawgs. Massad asked his mother for a short term loan to buy plain, white hand towels. He and a few of his ATO fraternity brothers went to his mother's house in Westlake and spent a few days dying the towels orange and then screen printing at Brown dog bone in which the word Dawgs was centered. Eventually, and because the original simple idea became a big idea, Massad and brothers had to move their operation to a number of local laundromats!
The group bought the white towels at a retail cost of $1.00 and sold them for $5.00. Eventually, Massad and his brothers also ventured into the retail world.
The idea became a business. By the time the Browns season was over, Massad, most of his fraternity and anyone else he could get to help were making upwards of 3,000 towels per week and selling out at each Browns home game.
"It was pretty simple," said Massad, who was on campus for BW's 37-7 win this fall versus Capital University. "Everybody loved the Browns. They were a good football team and they had Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield who were known as the Dogs. So, we [Massad and his fraternity brothers] came up with an idea to capitalize on our investment and get some real-life business experience."
THE NEXT STEP TO STARDOME
That summer, Massad, known as the top placekicker in Division III, attended a camp with many of the top college football players in the country. That gave him another brilliant idea.
ANOTHER TOWEL IDEA LEADS TO A STAR IS BORN!
So, when Massad came back to Cleveland following the camp, he began customizing towels for each of the top NCAA Division I players who he met at the camp and built a friendship. Ultimately, it led to contracts to supply 20-to-25 NCAA Division I programs with customized towels. One was Michigan State University who over time just sent Massad a purchase order each fall for the next five or six years, including "specialized" towels for Bowl Game appearances such as the Rose Bowl.
In addition, the Cleveland Sporting Goods Company, Koenig Sports liked the idea, so Massad began producing his wares for the Koenig stores in Northeast Ohio.
"I ;earned a great deal from both a business and legal standpoint," said Massad. "We sold our towels to Koenig's for $2.50 each (a profit of $1.50 per towel) and they sold them in all of their stores in Northeast Ohio, including in the Westgate Mall on the border of Westlake and Rocky River. "At the same time, we cut a deal to do the same thing with all of the BP (British Petroleum) gas stations in NEO and at specialty stores such as The Shoppe in Berea."
When ABC TV got word of Massad's entrepreneurship, it asked to come to Cleveland to interview him for its ABC College Football "Game of the Week" halftime segment entitled "Campus Camera". Thus, a star was born! In fact, Massad's "Campus Camera" appearance was shared with Yusef Jackson of the University of Virginia and son of political activist Jesse Jackson!
"That was really cool," said Massad, who has a wife, Amy, and a daughter, Morgan, and son, Mack. "To be on at halftime of the ABC College Football Game of the Week was great, but I didn't get to see it when it aired because we also played that day. My mother taped it and I saw it later that evening."
TAKING A STEP BACK IN TIME
Massad originally attended the U.S. Military Academy (Army) at West Point as a scholarship cadet. But once he arrived on campus, he knew West Point wasn't for him, so he did what all first-year, homesick college students do -- he called a friend. That friend happened to be his high school buddy and BW offensive tackle Dirk Riemenschneider '88 who was a year older than Massad and already on the BW campus and playing football for the Yellow Jackets along with his big brother Christian "Chris" Riemenschneider '86.
"So, I get this phone call from Wade," said Riemenschneider at a recent Yellow Jacket football game Jacket Backet tailgate. "He's at West Point and he's not happy. He wants to transfer. So, I told him to just leave and come to BW to play quarterback and kick.
"Wade was a pretty good quarterback and an excellent placekicker," continued "Little Remo". "So, the next thing you know, Wade is at my doorstep! The rest is history."
LOOKING BACK AT HIS MOVE FROM WEST POINT TO BW
When Massad joined the Yellow Jacket football program, legendary BW Head Coach Bob Packard called this writer and said, "We just got a transfer who is going to make a huge difference during his career at BW." Packard, who owns the most football coaching wins in BW history, couldn't of been more right. Today, Massad is one of the most successful investment people in the Greater Cleveland.
"As I look back on it today, BW was the right place and right move for me at that time," said Massad. "I got a first-class, quality education that helped me get into the field that I wanted to pursue. It gave me the opportunity to thrive personally and professionally.
"The professors took a keen interest in me and were outstanding," continued Massad. "Coach Packard and our coaching staff at that time were the best in the country, in any division, and they weren't just coaches, they were teachers of football and life, and I am forever grateful for their expertise and influence.
"My first internship was with McDonald Investments, a company run by a number of BW graduates, including then trustees Bill Carmel '51 (CEO) and Bill Summers '72 (President), and my first supervisor was former BW All-American linebacker Mark Summers '75, who was Jim Tressel's '75 roommate at BW.
"And, my fraternity brothers and teammates who I worked hand-in-hand with on this project are friends for life," said Massad as he smiled and looked right at Dirk Riemenschneider '88 and Eddie Graham '88 who were there with him at the BW tailgate."