Owners of Intertech Plastics share personal story of when they became a family business
Noel Ginsburg thought he’d get into a family business by joining his father’s company. But, two years into his time at the University of Denver, his dad sold the company.
“My dad would take me to work when I was nine or 10,” said Noel. “I worked on a production line when I was 11 or 12. I fell in love with manufacturing.”
Noel describes himself as a C average student, someone who might not get into DU these days. But, from 1980-81, he finally enjoyed school.
“I took an independent study for five credit hours, and the project was to create my own company,” Noel said. “I was able to get an injection molding machine in a custom molding house that went out of business. I got three investors. Everything that I was learning in school kind of prepared me to take that leap, along with what I knew from my own experience.”
Noel dropped out of DU his senior year and launched Intertech Plastics, a custom plastics business that manufactures products for the consumer, industrial and medical device markets. His company would experience years of amazing growth, and times of serious distress.
“I was never involved on the business side of the business, but during that hard time when Noel had to go into bankruptcy after his largest company defaulted on what they owed, it was very stressful,” said Leslie Ginsburg, who was managing their son and daughter who were young at home. “He did a remarkable job; he really tried to kind of keep it away from them as much as he could.”
Leslie recalls Noel’s father calling her every day to check on her, to reassure her that she, Noel and the children would be fine no matter what happened. Thankfully, business turned around after the courts forced his delinquent customer to pay what was owed. As a result, Intertech went on to thrive enabling Noel to create two nonprofits.
Noel was a founding board member and chair of the board of the Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation. While their children were still young, they sponsored 42 students for 10 years, turning a dropout rate of 90% into a graduation rate of over 90%.
Later as a result of their experience with the Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation, he founded CareerWise Colorado in 2016. In 2021, Noel was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor to the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship and now serves as its Co-chair.
During these years, Corey Ginsburg was having a similar experience to his father—not doing great in school, but loving his hands on time at Intertech Plastics learning about manufacturing. Corey went to CU-Boulder and ended up with a summer internship with the company after his first year.
“I just I really fell in love with it,” Corey said. “It took some pushing, and, back and forth with my parents. But, I convinced them to let me drop out and I went to work full time.”
This is when the Ginsburgs had a family business, by definition. And while Corey excelled at the company learning consumer products and outselling the sales director at the time, there were still challenges.
“Corey struggled in the beginning,” Leslie said. “I can remember he would come home [to his parent’s home] most every day and have lunch. He’d say, ‘You know, everybody went out to lunch, but they didn’t invite me.’ It was a complicated time for him.”
As the Ginsburgs explained, Corey was treated differently by other company employees. He often wasn’t sure if he was getting sincere performance feedback. Even though Noel thought he was performing very well, Corey wasn’t sure if the feedback was sincere because he was the owner’s son.
While it didn’t exist when the Ginsburgs’ needed help, the Bailey Program for Family Enterprise is a resource hub for family businesses and family offices inside Executive Education at the Daniels College of Business. The program can connect family business owners to community peers and partners, act as a convener of events and catalyst for ideas, and share our experience and knowledge of best practices.
“I think would have been fantastic for us as a family to have an organization to turn to that we could have benefited from,” Leslie said.
Corey found his way at Intertech, eventually helping his father with a successful sale to TriMas in 2022. By then the company employed nearly 200 people at two facilities in Denver.
While Corey finds his next career adventure, Noel and Leslie focus on their nonprofit work. CareerWise has since expanded across the country to New York City, Washington, D.C., Indiana, Buffalo and Michigan, raising more than 30 million to support its work. Leslie still serves on the board of the Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation and served as the Board Chair from 2015-2017, along with many other volunteer activities.
They both express that their community work is motivated by their upbringing and faith.
“It was a responsibility for us to care for the greater community that we lived in, and to take my Jewish values that I was raised with, and the importance of repairing the world and being involved in outside endeavors,” Leslie said.
“I hated going to temple as a kid,” Noel said. “But, I believe in the Jewish tradition of ‘tikkun olam’, repairing of the world. We have a responsibility being in the Jewish community for the broader world.”