Excellence Hall of Fame – Jon Prusmack
“The story of how Jon founded, invented and pioneered Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelters is a tale of great vision and innovative thinking…Prusmack’s products save lives… (now) the US market for rugby continues to grow largely due to Jon Prusmack’s relentless pursuit of elevating this amateur sport to world competitive levels…he is Mr. Rugby in the USA, and for that accomplishment alone he deserves admission to the Excellence Hall of Fame.”
Don Haider Professor of Strategy, Kellogg School of Management
“Having spent 40 years with Ernst and Young I’ve met quite a few outstanding entrepreneurs. Jon would rank right up at the top of the group…he’s a globalist which has helped him in his creativity because in his worldwide travels he picked up many ideas which he used to make his products better.”
Mike Henning former Global CEO of EY
“Jon is first and foremost a man of integrity. A man who has studied both art and mathematics, an artist who has excelled at sports, and one who – with many patents to his name – has invented things. A businessman who has successfully built more than one multi-million dollar company from zero and a man who can just as easily sit and talk to and engage with a five-year-old girl as with a five-star general.”
John Bourke President, The Business Excellence Institute
Jon attended the University of Notre Dame on a football scholarship where he studied architecture. After two years, he transferred to the United States Naval Academy where, once he had completed Marine Corp basic training, he majored in math and mechanical engineering. He resigned from the Academy after three years to pursue studies in Art and Design at New York University and graduated in 1966 with a BA in Art and Mathematics.
Throughout his college years, Jon played football and was voted the NYU’s Most Valuable Player in 1965/66. While at NYU, he discovered rugby which he was to play for 15 years before becoming a coach and referee. As a player, he played internationally against clubs in England, Ireland, and France and was captain of the USA Owls for their inaugural tour of England in 1977. He wrote the first American coaching book on rugby – Rugby: A Guide for Players, Coaches and Spectators – which was published by Hawthorn Books in 1979. Jon was inducted into the USA Rugby Foundation Hall of Fame in 2013 and was also a member of the NYAC Rugby Hall of Fame and the US Naval Academy Rugby Hall of Fame.
He started his business career as a professional artist and designer after graduating from NYU. He worked as an artist full-time for decades. In parallel, he was a successful entrepreneur setting up a number of companies. In 1986, with his wife Patrice, he founded Deployable Hospital Systems, a company based on an idea for a Deployable Rapid Assembly Surgical Hospital (DRASH). They struggled for 10 years but persevered to build DHS Technologies from zero into a business with well over $150 million in annual sales, employing over 250 people in its manufacturing plants in New York and Alabama and with a subsidiary in the UK. Its equipment has been used around the world by military and civil defense forces, police and fire departments – it is now standard NATO, US Army and US Marine Corp equipment. Jon had 22 patents and was the 2003 EY Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year for the New York Tri-State area.
In 2012, the Prusmacks sold DHS Technologies and its two brands “Reeves” (which targets disaster relief) and “DRASH” (which targets military shelters) are now continuing without him. While at the helm of DHS, Jon earned an MS in Engineering from Polytechnic University in New York. He also held an MBA from Bernard Baruch Graduate School of Business which he earned in the 1980s.
Since he discovered rugby, Jon has maintained his interest in it and was the publisher of a rugby newsletter/magazine since 1968. Originally called Scrumdown, it is now an online publication called Rugby Today. His love of the sport led him to purchase the World Rugby USA 7s event (part of the World Rugby Sevens Series) from USA Rugby in 2005. He moved the event from California to Las Vegas and built it into a major sporting spectacle in partnership with NBC Sports.
Jon established United World Sports, which runs multiple events including the Collegiate Rugby 7s Championship and the Collegiate Varsity Cup Championship, which is the largest “15s” college rugby event in the USA. In 2014, he became the licensee for Rhino Rugby equipment and apparel for North and South America. Total revenues from the rugby event business and Rhino now exceed $30 million. Thanks in part to Jon’s significant efforts, rugby is now the fastest growing sport in the USA.
To continue building rugby as a major sport in the US, Jon created the “Super 7s” Rugby League – the first professional rugby league in the US. “Super 7s” is 60 minutes of 7s rugby in a unique patent-pending format that allows for the creation of city-based teams to play one another.
Until 2013, Jon was also the owner of APOGEE Wellness and the international chain Power Pilates, which according to Reuters in 2009 was the worldwide leader in “Pilates Education”.
Alongside his work, Jon also kept up his love of art and was a member of New York’s Salmagundi Club where he exhibited a collection of his work entitled “Istanbul to Venice” in 2014. He also entered a submission for the World Trade Center Memorial entitled “The Phoenix“ designed to symbolize the past, present and the future and to express “hope and respect for a better and brighter future”.
He served as a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Small Business Council, the Rockland County Economic Development Corporation, and was on the Board of Trustees for Dominican College, New York, which named its new Health and Science Education Center the “Prusmack Center” in 2005 in honor of a significant donation made by Jon and Patrice to help build it.
In recognition of his achievement in multiple sectors of business and of his unflinching pursuit of excellence in his life, in his art, and in his work Jon was nominated for inclusion in the Institute’s Excellence Hall of Fame in December 2015. In January 2016, he was elected unopposed by its Fellows as the Hall of Fame’s inaugural member and he was inducted on February 19, 2016.
Sadly, Jon died in December 2018 but his legacy survives through his art, his philanthropic work, and his contribution to the sport of rugby in the USA.