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Avi Reichental emigrated to the United States from his native Israel in 1977 after serving as a helicopter mechanic in the Israeli Air Force . He settled in Connecticut and did what he called the “usual things” an immigrant does in this country: mopping floors, working in nursing homes, selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners door to door.
“I had the same beginning of all newcomers to the land of opportunity,” Reichental said.
Eventually Reichental moved to Queens. In 1981, he landed a “dream job” at a company called Sealed Air. It’s the company that inadvertently invented bubble wrap, when founders Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes set out in 1957 to create a new kind of wallpaper consisting of two sheets of plastic laminated together with air bubbles in between.
Reichental worked at Sealed Air for 22 years, rising through the ranks to become a senior executive in the company.
“When I started with Sealed Air it had about 400 employees,” Reichental said. “When I left, we had 18,500 employees. Today, we would have called it a unicorn. Back in the day we just called it a great business.”
After Sealed Air, Reichental was offered the CEO position at 3D Systems, based in Valencia, California, one of the pioneering companies in 3D printing. The company was generating about $100 million in annual revenue when Reichental took over in 2003. By the time he stepped down in 2015, 3D Systems had reached $700 million in annual revenue.