Brad Pierce: relishing life and enjoying every second of the ride

BY FRANK SHALA

When it comes to the corporate world, Brad Pierce will do just about anything to differentiate his enterprises from the competition.

When it comes to his charitable and Valencia Foundation work, that passion and work ethic are just as visible; however, his ambition to “stand out” changes immensely.

“I find that when nobody cares who gets the credit, a whole heck of a lot gets done,” Brad says.

brad-pierce-orlando-floridaThat philosophy is firmly embedded in Brad’s commitment to Valencia Foundation. He credits fellow board directors Larry Walker and Patrick Buffa for convincing him that – despite his busy schedule – being a part of the Valencia Foundation would benefit him and Valencia students.

“There was something about Patrick that made me feel that he was a guy I can trust,” Brad explains. “I’m very appreciative of Patrick to this day for giving me that nudge when I figured I couldn’t fit one more morsel of activity into my days … because honestly Valencia has been one of the most fulfilling, rewarding, amazing organizations to be involved in.”

Brad recognizes he is a small piece of a larger team, but he wants to ensure his contributions allow the foundation to thrive for years to come.

“It has been an honor to be a part of the everyday business and discussion. I feel like giving my input, thoughts and ideas always is valued by the other people there,” Brad says. “I relate a little better to the student population, as a lot of my employees are from Valencia and from UCF. I’m a different generation than many, and that provides a little bit different perspective.”

That is Brad’s diplomatic way of pointing out he is a bit younger than others in the room.

Having the perspective of youth also leaves him hungry to learn from those who have been serving the foundation for multiple years. Brad plans to expand his expertise in the intricacies of the foundation’s work, including donor recruitment and investment management, which require more time to master.

“If I don’t start learning how to do those things from the people who are right now leading the board, in five to 10 years – when I’ve moved up the chain, and a lot of our board has retired – that could be problem,” Brad explains.

His eagerness to help make and build a strong unit is evident. Brad realizes it takes a group of diverse people with different sets of talents to succeed in the long run.

“What I would like to be remembered for is looking back at our whole team and saying that whole group made a difference,” Brad adds.

Reviewing Brad’s resume, one might wonder when he has any time to sleep with all the ventures he manages. From E-Commerce, restaurant equipment and supplies, computer programming and web development to his avid aviation career, Brad diagnoses himself as ADD because he always has to be moving and jumping to the next adventure.

“I don’t want to ever sit on the sidelines, I want to be in the game,” Brad explains.

haiti-relief-flight-arrival-smallThe same can be said for his work with the different charities he supports. His work with Angel Flight Southeast, whose mission is to “arrange free flights so children and adults can have access to the far-from-home doctors that can save their lives,” grants him an opportunity to put his piloting skills to work helping people in life-or-death situations.

Brad’s aviation expertise benefited the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) in a relief mission to Haiti that donated $100,000 in medical provisions, as well as school supplies, clothing, musical instruments, toys and other items for residents. He is set to make another trip to the country later this year.

“I don’t have the desire to give to things as a passive donor. I want to be part of these amazing stories,” Brad says. He acknowledges the necessity of two types of donors: the ones who write checks quietly behind the scenes and the ones who deploy funds into action and outcomes.

After graduating from Winter Park High School, Brad attended Valencia College. That decision gave him the chance to continue working to develop his family’s local business, Restaurant Equipment World (REW), which has been around for nearly 40 years. By the time he completed Valencia, he had earned two pilot’s licenses and finished his aviation training.

“It worked out really well. To some degree I wasn’t ready to go off to another school,” he adds.

haiti-relief-flight-walking-self-pic-smallBrad enrolled at Florida State University’s School of Business, where he earned a marketing degree. He commuted from Tallahassee to Orlando on weekends to work at REW, where he was transitioning a local, smaller business into what is today a digital enterprise with more than 220 web sites and 330,000 products. The company was the first in the industry to embrace the online marketplace and currently receives millions of hits per month to its network of web sites. The company serves more than 100,000 customers in all 50 states and 110 countries,.

“When I came back here from college, Day One in the business, I already had a decade of experience, not only with REW, but developing what the business was going to become,” Brad explains.

He carefully balances his family life with wife, Lori, and their twin boys.

Whether today’s venture is business, charity, family or pleasure, Brad recognizes that success requires serious effort. But that doesn’t mean overlooking the opportunity that unexpectedly emerges: “When opportunity comes to you, don’t just disregard it. You never know which one of these can be life changing.”

Frank Shala is a Valencia College journalism student.

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orlando history vote!

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The Orange County Regional History Center is holding a contest, asking the public to vote on “100 Historic Icons of Orlando” for an upcoming exhibit.

Please consider voting for the founding of Valencia College in 1967 – and please cast a vote for the founding father of Valencia, Raymer F. Maguire, Jr. (West Campus students may recognize his name; the campus library is named for him.)

What you may not know is this: Maguire fought Orlando’s good-old-boy network, which wanted a segregated junior college. Instead, he led the fight to create a public college open to everyone.

Voting ends this week, so please go online at the link and cast your vote for the founding of Valencia and for Raymer Maguire Jr. To vote, you can go to either one of the following places:

History Center Website: http://www.historiciconsoforlando.com/

History Center Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Historic-Icons-of-Orlando/293074144177867?sk=app_140144849426314

Meet the class of 2018

Every year Beloit College releases a list that describes the world view of today’s freshman class. I remember the first batches of freshmen that had never known a world without Fed Ex, faxes, email or the Internet. 

Fast forward to 2014. Meet the Class of 2018.

Students heading into their first year of college this year were generally born in 1996.

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetime are Tupac Shakur, JonBenet Ramsey, Carl Sagan, and Tiny Tim.

On Parents’ Weekend, they may want to watch out in case Madonna shows up to see daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon or Sylvester Stallone comes to see daughter Sophia.

For students entering college this fall…

1. During their initial weeks of kindergarten, they were upset by endlessly repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center.

2. Since they binge-watch their favorite TV shows, they might like to binge-watch the video portions of their courses too.

3. Meds have always been an option.

4. When they see wire-rimmed glasses, they think Harry Potter, not John Lennon.

5. “Press pound” on the phone is now translated as “hit hashtag.”

6. Celebrity “selfies” are far cooler than autographs.

7. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has always been the only news program that really “gets it right.”

8. Hard liquor has always been advertised on television.

9. Ralph Nader has always been running for President of the U.S.

10. They never sat glued to Saturday morning cartoon shows but have been hooked on FOX’s Sunday night “Animation Domination.”

11. The water cooler is no longer the workplace social center; it’s the place to fill your water bottle.

12. In their lifetime, a dozen different actors have portrayed Nelson Mandela on the big and small screen.

13. Women have always attended the Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel.

14. FOX News and MSNBC have always been duking it out for the hearts and minds of American viewers.

15. Pepsi has always refreshed travelers in outer space.

16. Hong Kong has always been part of China.

17. Courts have always been overturning bans on same-sex marriages.

18. Joe Camel has never introduced one of them to smoking.

19. Bosnia and Herzegovina have always been one nation.

20. Citizens have always had a constitutional right to a “dignified and humane death.”

21. Nicotine has always been recognized as an addictive drug requiring FDA oversight.

22. Students have always been able to dance at Baylor.

23. Hello Dolly…cloning has always been a fact, not science fiction.

24. Women have always been dribbling, and occasionally dunking, in the WNBA.

25. Ads for prescription drugs, noting their disturbing side effects, have always flooded the airwaves.

26. Hell has always been associated less with torment and more with nothingness.

27. Whether to embrace fat or spurn it has been a front page debate all their lives.

28. Parents have always been able to rely on a ratings system to judge violence on TV.

29. They never tasted the “texturally enhanced alternative beverage” known as Orbitz.

30. There has always been “TV” designed to be watched exclusively on the web.

31. The Unabomber has always been behind bars.

32. Female referees have always officiated NBA games.

33. There has always been a national database of sex offenders.

34. Chicago, a musical about a celebrity getting away with murder, has always been popular on Broadway.

35. Yet another blessing of digital technology: They have never had to hide their dirty magazines under the bed.

36. U.S. major league baseball teams have always played in Mexico.

37. Bill Gates has always been the richest man in the U.S.

38. Attending schools outside their neighborhoods, they gather with friends on Skype, not in their local park.

39. While the number of Americans living with HIV has always been going up, American deaths from AIDS have always been going down.

40. They have no memory of George Stephanopoulos as a senior White House advisor.

41. The PGA has always offered golfers with disabilities a ride—reluctantly.

42. “African-American Vernacular English” has always been recognized as a distinct language in Oakland.

43. Two-term presidents are routine, but none of them ever won in a landslide.

44. The family has always been able to buy insurance at local banks.

45. One route to pregnancy has always been through frozen eggs.

46. They have probably never used Netscape as their web browser.

47. Everybody has always Loved Raymond.

48. “Salon” has always been an online magazine.

49. The rate of diagnosed diabetes has always been shooting up during their lifetime.

50. Affirmative Action has always been outlawed in California.

51. Boeing has never had any American competition for commercial aircraft.

52. U.S. soldiers have always been vaccinated against anthrax.

53. “Good feedback” means getting 30 likes on your last Facebook post in a single afternoon.

54. Their collection of U.S. quarters has always celebrated the individual states.

55. Since Toys R Us created a toy registry for kids, visits to Santa are just a formality.

Copyright© 2014 Beloit College