An American Success Story

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Gary and Dacia Marxrieser - American Success

by Belinda Elliott

Entrepreneurship.  Rugged individualism. Risk taking. Creativity. Building a business.   Wonderful American ideals that are imbedded in the American psyche.  We Americans sometimes take for granted the freedom of opportunity we are born into.  For a young man growing up in Austria finding opportunity meant taking his dream to America.

Gary and Dacia Marxrieser, owners of Manufacturing & Design Technology, Inc. in Chesapeake, are living the American Dream, but it hasn’t been easy.

Born in Austria, Gary was exposed to business at an early age and rapidly developed a keen business sense. He also quickly became aware of the challenges facing business owners in his home country.

“Austria is a beautiful place to visit and has a lot of culture,” Gary explained, “but it has very little personal freedom. There is no entrepreneurship at all.”

By the time he was 20, Gary had started three businesses. As he pursued each one, the Austrian government squashed his efforts telling him that enough businesses of the same nature already existed. Through complex regulations and licensing requirements, the government made it difficult for business owners to operate, he said.

In 1981, Gary accepted a job offer in America and set out to start a new life. While he pursued his new job in the manufacturing industry, he also started a side business – an engineering firm that would grow into MDT, the manufacturing and design company he operates today.

A few years later, he met and married Dacia. The couple discovered their families live only a couple hours apart overseas. Dacia was born in the United States after her mother settled in America following World War II, leaving behind extended family in southern Germany.

Dacia, working as a critical care nurse at the time, began helping Gary as his business expanded. What started as spending a couple hours a week “helping” at the office quickly grew into a greater commitment. She quit her nursing job and dedicated herself solely to the business.

For several years, Gary continued to juggle his full-time employment and the responsibilities of running his business, working early mornings and late nights after his eight-hour workday. When he eventually made the leap from his lucrative full-time job into full-time entrepreneurship it was a risky decision. The couple has weathered many ups and downs along the way.

“We certainly didn’t make as much money the first few years,” Dacia recalled. “We had a couple recessions since I started, and we’ve gone without pay for a couple years to make sure that the company survives.”

“It definitely has not been easy,” Gary agreed, “but that’s part of who we are. We never expected it to be easy. You have successes. You have setbacks, and you deal with them and move on.”

Manufacturing & Design Technology, Inc. (MDT) is now thriving, and they are looking to expand. However, Gary has concerns about the future for entrepreneurs in America. New regulations are making it increasingly difficult to operate a business, he said.

“If I compare the 1980s to where we are today with all the health care regulations, with all the additional taxes and all the additional rules we have to comply with, it is just crushing,” he said. “If more people would look at Europe and history and learn about that, you can see and predict the direction we are going, and it is really wrong.”

He sees many similarities between Austria and the direction that America seems to be headed—and not only in the business world. Having experienced socialized medicine in Austria, health care is another issue close to his heart. At age 81, his mother sought medical care in Austria for a condition that caused her intense pain. She was refused treatment.

“She went to the hospital and she basically was told she was too old, go home and die. Just like that. She’s too old so we are not spending any more money,” Gary said.

“That’s socialized medicine,” Dacia added. “They are in charge of your health, not you.”

Three years ago Gary became an American citizen so he could vote and be more involved in the country’s political processes. He encourages other citizens to take part as well, especially other business owners.

“I think business people need to get organized in the sense that we need to speak up,” Gary said.Unless we get our opinions heard and voiced we are going to head in the wrong direction.”

Even with the numerous challenges of business ownership, Gary and Dacia can’t imagine doing anything else. They encourage other entrepreneurs to work hard and never give up on their dreams.

“That’s one thing Gary taught me,” Dacia said, “never take no for an answer.”

“I came to this country literally with one suitcase. I didn’t know anybody,” Gary said. “I think determination and the will to build something is the most important thing. This is definitely still the land of opportunity. If you really want something you can pursue it.”

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One Response to An American Success Story

  1. Jim Keiper Reply

    October 27, 2012 at 12:19 am

    What a great story and what nice people Dacia and Gary are!

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