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Mickey Novak '70

As an undergraduate at UC Irvine, Mickey Novak ’70 considered several careers, including law and the Peace Corps. His professional future was shaped by a fortuitous meeting with a friend’s father, the owner of Croton Watches. While Novak was still a student at UC Irvine’s Graduate School of Management, Croton hired him to evaluate and help improve their business and then to oversee the company’s relationship with Hughes Aircraft, then the leading supplier of digital watches.
Novak’s work with Croton awakened his entrepreneurial spirit. After completing his M.S. in management, he decided to found his own digital watch company, Innovative Time Corporation. By the 1990s, the company was selling 3 to 5 million licensed children’s and sports watches a year to retail giants like Walmart and Target.

Novak sold the company in 1999, but in 2001, he and one of his former executives started a new business, NAFECS (North American Far East Commercial Services) Corporation, sourcing Chinese factories for manufacturers and developing electronics and seasonal goods for major retailers. NAFECS now has about 50 employees, with offices in Hong Kong and Shenzen, China.

Novak and his family live in Montezuma, Costa Rica, but he has remained an active part of the Webb community for over 35 years, organizing class reunions and later serving as a trustee. Novak credits Webb with giving him the tools to succeed in school and business. “At Webb,” he says, “You learn to develop all your skills. … It shaped me, brought out talents in me, and that’s essentially what led to my becoming an entrepreneur.”

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