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avatar for Neil Balter

Neil Balter

California Closets
Founder

At 17, Neil Balter founded California Closets®, which grew from his garage into the world’s largest custom closet company. In just under a decade, Balter expanded the company to include over 166 franchises in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Spain with annual sales in excess of $66 million. In 1990, just before his 30th birthday, Balter negotiated the multi-million dollar sale of the company to Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

Never one to remain idle, Neil promptly moved to Vancouver, Canada, to head a public company developing and manufacturing a French fry vending machine, the Spud Stop. Despite a tasty product and hefty financial backing, Neil found the allure of retirement in the Caribbean on the isle of Barbados more attractive…until the closet business bug bit again. In 1995, Neil started Organizers DirectTM in Phoenix, Arizona, to capture the closet market between high end and do-it-yourselfers. Today, as President of Organizers DirectTM, Neil works with more than 500 closet dealers in the U.S. through Organizers Direct’s marketing and sales partnership with ClosetMaid®. Organizers DirectTM, is now a wholesaler of fine closet organizing products to ClosetMaid’s dealers.

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Neil Balter is a founding member of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization and a former president. Neil is a frequent YEO speaker and can be seen at the annual YEO convention.

Mr. Balter has been the recipient of numerous prestigious professional awards, including being highlighted in the top ten for the 1988 Arthur Young Top Entrepreneur Award and was a finalist in 1989. Other awards include Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Outstanding Entrepreneur” Achievement Award and ranked in the top ten of ACE’s “Top 100 Entrepreneurs under 30” for five consecutive years, ranking #2 in 1989 and 1990.  Balter summarized his years of experience as an entrepreneur in his book:  The Closet Entrepreneur, 337 Ways to Start Your Successful Business With Little or No Money. The Closet Entrepreneur… provides many practical tips and insights on developing your own business and avoiding the pitfalls that often affect new businesses.

Along with hundreds of appearances on national and local television programs such as the “Today Show” and “Good Morning, America,” Mr. Balter has spoken to large and small groups alike about his business, the closet and building industry and the keys to success. He has presented his unique views to groups ranging from 50 to more than 1000 for such companies as CertainTeed, a leading manufacturer of building materials, 3-Day Blinds and Carpeteria. He has also spoken before many trade and business organizations such as NARI of Greater St. Louis, IFA (International Franchise Association) and YPO (Young Presidents Organization).

Mr. Balter’s entrepreneurial endeavors have been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine, as well as People Magazine and the “Oprah Winfrey Show.” More than 1000 newspapers, magazines, radio and television shows have chronicled Neil’s inspirational story.