Dal LaMagna bent over — stark naked — in front of a mirror in 1980 and discovered the pain in his butt that would go on to make him a millionaire.
“I was nude sunbathing, and I got a splinter in my butt,” LaMagna recalled in a speech in 2001, according to The New York Times.
The tweezers he’d bought from a local drugstore didn’t work, which prompted him to start thinking about what would make them better. This was the start of Tweezerman, now an international personal-care-tool brand launched on the North Shore.
LaMagna burst into the business world with tremendous entrepreneurial spirit. That zest was tested when he moved to Los Angeles to become a filmmaker but was initially unsuccessful. He had other ideas before selling tweezers, such as trying to engineer a baking pan specifically for lasagna — another failure.
The splinter in his rear end was both his rock bottom and his saving grace. He teamed up with a Swiss cosmetics company, Dumont, which eventually became the multimillion-dollar Tweezerman brand — but not before LaMagna practically exhausted his life’s savings. His early struggles ignited his lasting intrigue in American capitalism, about which he’s authored a few books.
Racking up debt in the process of building his tweezer empire, he realized, “You can’t get capital if you don’t have capital. It’s a closed club, and that’s a problem.”
At the peak of the business’s success in 2004, averaging between $25 and $30 million in annual revenues, LaMagna sold Tweezerman to a German company, Zwilling J.A. Henckels. Tweezerman is still a Long Island-based company, headquartered in Port Washington, and its products are sold virtually everywhere.
His relentless work ethic also led him to finance several of his own political campaigns — he twice tried to unseat U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in 1996 and 2000; and he ran against ex-Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto in 1997.
LaMagna, now 71, is still an entrepreneur. He is president and CEO of IceStone, a company that makes countertops out of recycled glass and cement in Brooklyn. Even today, LaMagna is known for his dedication to the business world, and for the quirky story of that summer afternoon in his birthday suit when he realized he was sitting on a gold mine.