Zach Adelman is founder and chief executive officer of Navitas Organics in Novato. “I’m originally from Toronto, Canada, but I left in 1990 and have been on the West Coast ever since,” he says.
“I started working at a very young age and in many ways have always been an entrepreneur. I started with a paint contracting business in Whistler, and then an import-export business in Vancouver. My current business [Navitas Organics] came out of a passion for travel and an interest in health and wellness. It started in 2003 as a small, home-based business, based around natural and organic products. Maca—a root vegetable from the Peruvian Andes that helps promote strength and endurance—was our first product."
Navitas is Latin for 'energy.' The company searches globe for the highest-quality organic superfoods and works with local farmers who use sustainable organic farming methods. The company relocated to Marin in 2004. Adelman lives with his family in Ross.
Do you have a big family?
I met my wife in 1999 and we were married in 2001. We have two boys—ages 13 and 8—and two dogs. My wife, Meghan, developed our wellness program; which includes an onsite fitness center, personal trainer, fitness and yoga classes as well as wellness oriented events. She’s a registered nurse and will complete her master’s in public health this spring.
Did you go to college?
I went to college briefly at University of British Columbia, but it wasn’t something I was passionate about. I didn’t have the focus or direction at the time. I had a passion for skiing, so I thought it would be better to move to Whistler and begin my journey as an entrepreneur. But if I could do it over again, I would have pushed myself to finish college. It’s a conversation I have with my boys now. You only get one chance to have that experience and camaraderie.
What do you love to do outside of work?
I love skiing, mountain biking, travelling, music, spending time with my family and friends, and living a healthy lifestyle.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Outside of my family, I think Navitas Organics is definitely my greatest achievement so far. We went from a home-based business to a national brand that is now distributed around the world. We have more than 100 employees, and have become a leader in the organic and natural products industry. That’s something I never could have anticipated.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My parents instilled in me the importance of working hard, treating people well and showing respect. They also taught me the importance of having a positive outlook and attitude on life. It’s important for all of us to try and affect positive change. That is the inspiration for our new slogan “Live Life Positive.”
How many foreign countries have you visited? Which one stands out in your memory?
Travel is one of my passions in life and I’ve been fortunate to visit many countries, although I’m not sure of the exact number. I travel a lot for work but I also enjoy traveling with family and showing my children the world outside of Marin. I don’t know if I have a particular favorite, each place was fascinating for different reasons. I’ve spent a lot of time in Peru through my work, and the country and people are amazing. Traveling to developing countries makes you appreciate all that we have in Marin and the Bay Area.
What was the best or worst job you’ve ever had?
The worst job I ever had was in Whistler Village, where I worked as a laborer moving piles of wood for one day. It was absolutely backbreaking work. Then we were fired at the end of the day because the guy said we hadn’t worked hard enough, even though our backs were bleeding at that point.
What’s more important: a healthy mind, or a healthy body?
I think having both a healthy mind and a healthy body is important because they work together. The more we take care of our body, the more that leads to a healthy mind, and vice versa. I guess if I had to choose what would go first, I’d want my mind to still be there. But if you take care of your body, you take care of your mind.
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