Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Alum speaks on business, motivation

Drew Hoover

Room 328 of Lloyd Hall was crowded Friday morning as students from across the Capstone gathered to listen to Jeff Levitetz, founder of Purity Wholesale Grocers, Inc. and alumnus of the University’s New College, present the Helen Crow Mills and John Carroll Mills lecture.

The lecture was created in the College of Arts and Sciences by the Mills as a way to bring successful alumni to the University to provide inspiration for students, according to a UA press release.

In 1982, Levitetz established Purity Wholesale in a small room with nothing but a desk and a phone. Today, Purity Wholesale holds a large share of the $5 billion industry, is one of the largest private companies in Florida and has more than 180 employees.

“Use common sense and do the right thing,” said Levitetz in his speech that provided encouragement to the audience.

A 1980 alumnus, Levitetz first proved his diligence and work ethic when he raised more than $10,000 for cancer research through partnering with a local bank and doing 10,000 consecutive sit-ups. He later borrowed $300 and successfully established University Market, a student-run business venture focused on retail and wholesale.

His first business venture continues to highlight his moral work ethic. While a student at the University, Levitetz visited a friend’s father who owned a surplus store in Chicago and offered to sell digital watches to him for Levitetz to sell at school. Upon his return to campus, Levitetz found an invoice in the watch packaging directing him to complete the invoice in ten days. Levitetz sold the watches in five days and drove straight to Chicago to hand deliver the revenue and the invoices.

“You’re not supposed to have everything figured out yet,” said Levitetz as he reflected on his college years. “The world is open.”

He continued by ascertaining that the most important part of successful business was relationships. He spoke of the people with the most influence on his life in the past 30 years and how he would not be where he is today without such relationships.

Levitetz encouraged students to always take notes and to write down everything in order to remember it. He said students should be sure to allow time for self-reflection.

“Look in the mirror every night and if you don’t like what you see, change it,” he said. “Be a really good listener.”

He ended by saying that balancing family and business is a struggle, but it can be done. Life without family is not really living.

Rebecca Cape, a freshman with an undecided major attended the lecture as a requirement for a class.

“It was so inspiring to see an entrepreneur that made it,” she said.

“His tips on business are actually great tips on life in general,” said Anna Turkett, a junior majoring in zoology and education.

Levitetz was glad to visit Tuscaloosa once again and said he greatly enjoyed speaking to students excited about their future.

More to Discover