Jim Regan’s business education began long before he set foot on La Salle’s campus. From the age of 10, he worked alongside relatives in a successful chain of local butcher shops his grandfather established in Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County after his family emigrated from Italy.
Regan immediately felt right at home in La Salle’s School of Business, with its small community atmosphere and personal style of teaching. The first in his family to attend college, Regan knew business was in his blood, but he wasn’t looking to return to the butcher shop. Instead he pursued a marketing degree and set his sights on a career in pharmaceutical sales, and the business faculty at La Salle helped make it happen.
He remembers doing resume review and prepping for a Merck interview with Sharon Javy, who was Dean of the School of Business at the time. “That is some really intense nurturing and care and love—that wouldn’t have happened anywhere else,” Regan said. “The faculty was right there to shepherd me through the process. I felt like I had a whole school behind me, rooting for me.
After landing an internship with Merck, he accepted a position with the company as a pharmaceutical sales rep in New York following graduation. But after three years in corporate America, he felt pulled back to his beginnings. “I thought all I wanted to do with my life was just wear a tie, not an apron,” Regan said. “Then when I finally had the tie on, I started to reconnect with my roots of being an entrepreneur, having your own business and doing your own thing.”
Regan left Merck during the dot-com boom and got a job at an Internet-based startup that never made it—but it was there he found his true passion. “Once I saw the way that technology was going to revolutionize the world, that was it,” he said. “I knew to do anything else was crazy.” Shortly after, a light bulb went off for Regan and coworker Kevin Cunningham. They saw the gap in the marketing system between major technology companies and the retailers that sold their products.
They transformed this inefficiency into a business opportunity and incorporated Market Resources Partners (MRP) in 2002. The business struggled to get off the ground at first; they needed someone with the intellect and management expertise to complement their creative vision. Regan knew just the person for the job—Jack Butler, ’94, his best friend and former business classmate from La Salle.
After Butler joined the company as Chief Operating Officer in 2003, things took off fast. In just a few years, the company when from 10 employees to 300 and expanded globally to include European operations based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Latin American operations underway in Nicaragua.
But Regan’s global corporate success has its roots in the personal, nurturing education he received at his family’s butcher shop and later at La Salle. “La Salle was the bridge for me that connected me to a serious next step,” he said. “Without that experience, I never would have been able to make the jumps that I’ve made.”