Reflecting on the Journey to the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Stephen Odzer

October 28, 2020

Stephen Odzer remembers all of the work and dedication that led to his achievement as the 2000 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Stephen Odzer has been working in the distribution industry for three decades, but he’s been making waves since the start. He started his first business out of his parent’s basement when he was just 18. Stephen Odzer then continued working in distribution and even focused on several philanthropic projects.

However, it was his work in the late 1990s and early 2000s that led to one of his greatest achievements. In 2000, Stephen Odzer received the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Award. According to their website, the award is meant to “celebrate the unstoppable entrepreneurs whose unbounded ambitions deliver innovation, growth, and prosperity that transform our world.”

Stephen Odzer Describes His Work Leading Up to the E&Y Award

Ernst and Young doesn’t just hand the award out to anyone. Every year, the organization chooses from a number of viable candidates, narrowing down the choices to just one. In 2000, the winner was Stephen Odzer. Stephen sat down to discuss his work leading up to the E&Y Award:

  • “I began in the janitorial supplies business. That’s where I got my start. I was just 18 and I knew that I wanted to own my own business. I still lived with my parents, so that helped me to not have a lot of overhead. I literally started my first business in my parents’ basement. Everything took off from there,” said Stephen Odzer.


  • “In those first days, I really didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I had a goal. That was it. I knew that I wanted to start a business and I saw a gap in the distribution market. So, what else could I do but hit the books? I studied about the industry, about supply chains, about everything. I learned as much as I could and implemented that knowledge into my fledgling business,” explained Stephen Odzer


  • “Once I started accumulating clients, my parents encouraged me to keep going. That’s when it became my passion. I could see that if I remained dedicated, I could become really successful. So, I continued my studies while also running a business. It meant that I was always tired, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to succeed,” Stephen Odzer said.


  • “Then, in 2000, I was submitted as a contestant for the highly competitive Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Before then, I had never even heard of it. But when I started reading up on it, I assumed there was no way I could win. When I did get the award, I was blown away. It really helped push me to work even harder and develop my business,” Stephen Odzer explained.