From Textile Professional to Entrepreneur
Yair Lapciuc ’97
Yair Lapciuc ’97 knew he wanted to continue in the line of work his patriarchs established by working in the textile industry. In 1949, his grandfather started a textile factory in Colombia. When the time arrived to select a textile school, Philadelphia University was Lapciuc’s first choice. He was interested in the textile marketing and management program because it covered both sides of textile, and he had a special interest in the business side.
After graduation, Lapciuc began working at his family’s textile factory. His family endured many challenges and personal struggles before achieving success. When Lapcuic’s father, Israel Lapciuc was six years old, the Nazis invaded his home country of Romania. He spent a year in a ghetto, forced to survive in unlivable conditions and later transferred to a concentration camp. It was not long before Lapcuic’s father was able to escape by jumping off a truck and running into the forest. He was on the run for days and finally found a farm that would take him in only because he made them believe he was a Russian orphan. Had they known his real identity, they would have reported him or risk death for taking in a Jewish boy. After six months at the farm, he sought shelter at an orphanage where he would be safer since by that time, the Germans were losing the war. Once the war was over, he was miraculously reunited with both of his surviving parents. They moved to Colombia in 1948 and began the textile factory.
While working in the family business, Lapciuc held roles which gave him the skills needed to run a factory. During his career, he oversaw the exports, sales, purchasing and general management divisions. There are a few key things Lapciuc learned in his 20 years working in the industry. “As the business environment became more competitive, roughly 15 years ago, it was, and still is imperative to buy your raw materials as cheaply as you can without sacrificing the quality,” said Lapciuc. He admits that this is something hard to do which may mean that an infrastructure in the Far East is necessary. It is also important to evolve ones products and set oneself apart from the competition. His family did this with the quality of their products. “It is impossible to compete based on price alone since there is always someone that makes it cheaper,” he noted. Lastly, finding great people to have on a team and keeping them motivated is essential for success. Today, Lapciuc sits as a board member of the factory and travels to Colombia 10-15 times a year. He is unable to travel as much as he used to since he lives in Miami, FL, which led him to start a new business with a textile twist.
Lapciuc is the owner of Wrinkle Wiz, a spray that eliminates wrinkles in clothing in most situations. Wrinkle Wiz is very popular among travelers. He came up with the idea while on a business trip. He would wear wrinkled shirts to meetings. Lapcuic hates ironing, especially in hotel rooms. There was a need for a spray that would relax the fabrics and eliminate as many wrinkles as possible. After a year of trial and error, the product was created.
Lapcuic’s role is to sell the product and find strategic partners in key areas to carry the product. Wrinkle Wiz is sold at The Container Store, Target, Meijers, a few Bed Bath and Beyond stores and other stores across the country. His career in now split between the factory, Wrinkle Wiz and real estate investing. As the textile industry changed, he and his family realized it was important to diversify.
Starting a new business in his mid-thirties was challenging because he had to learn a new industry to get his product launched. Once Lapciuc had a formula, the hard work kicked in to pull it all together and convince buyers to put it on their shelves. It was rewarding to take the idea into a concept and then see the product. Lapciuc enjoys receiving fan mail for Wrinkle Wiz. Many customers tell him they would not travel without it.
It is important for Lapciuc to balance work and life. He confesses that he is a homebody and enjoys spending time with his wife and six children. Lapciuc also sits on a few nonprofits and plays tennis. One of the charities he is part of provides and feeds less privileged people, mainly the elderly.
Lapciuc wants alumni who need career advice to know that change is good. “A new perspective or a new set of goals to keep the fire burning has worked for me in the past. Never stop going for it!”