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issue: September 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine

People
Nick Lazaris of KEURIG


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As ppresident and CEO of coffee machine maker Keurig, Nick Lazaris plans the company’s strategic direction while working on its operational implementation.

“I liken myself to a composer writing a symphony, where each of the senior managers has a role to play, much like a person in an orchestra has an instrument to play,” he notes.

Apparently, Mr. Lazaris’s directing has created harmony at Keurig. Located in Wakefield, MA, U.S., Keurig ranked 130th on the “Inc. 500,” Inc. magazine’s ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. The company received the Small Business of New England Innovation Award in 2002. In 2001, 2003, and now again in 2004, Mr. Lazaris was a regional finalist for Ernst & Young’s (E & Y) Entrepreneur of the Year award.

After receiving his B.S. from MIT in Cambridge, MA, U.S., Mr. Lazaris in 1975 earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He then worked as an accountant for E & Y in Charleston, WV, U.S. and soon after became a licensed CPA.

In 1977, he worked as the assistant state treasurer and a commissioner of employee security for the state of West Virginia in Charleston. He also worked for in the Governor’s office as the chief of staff to John D. Rockefeller IV. It was at that time that he remembers having a learning experience that he has carried over to the consumer products business. “There is no more intensive marketing challenge than a political campaign,” he says. “You are constantly measuring results, monitoring the competition, researching opinions, modifying your product (candidate’s position on issues or style), running advertising, and at the end of the process, you win or lose with no ambiguity about success or failure.” He kept those principles in mind as he moved on to his next business venture, when he went to work for the Barry Wright Corporation, a manufacturer of products that handle and protect data records.

Moving on to his next challenge, Mr. Lazaris started at Carr Picture Frames in 1989 in Somerville, MA, U.S., where he was the vice president of Sales and Marketing. Later, he became the president, CEO, and a board member. He left in 1995 and moved on to Office Specialists, where he was the general manager of the Tech Specialists Division in Waltham, MA, U.S.

Since joining Keurig in late 1997, Mr. Lazaris has used his vast experience to secure the competitive positioning of Keurig, which he claims is the number-one premium single coffee brewing system in the U.S.

Mr. Lazaris likes to set clear objectives and regularly measures his progress toward them. His management style places emphasis on regular communication among the management team by holding weekly meetings. He believes that being able to respond to objectives requires effective communication. Mr. Lazaris also says he listens, thinks, analyzes, and acts before making decisions in business and follows the Keurig mantra: hard work, smart work, and teamwork.

During his down time, Mr. Lazaris takes on carpentry projects, enjoys seeing the latest independent movies, and likes sitting on the beach with a good book.

 

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