Bernstein Award Winners
Second-Generation Winner Earns 2007 Bernstein Award
Date: May 1, 2007
SALISBURY, MD---After developing plans for a company that provides meals and groceries to
Ocean City vacationers, Salisbury University alumna Nicolette Engler has followed in her
father’s footsteps to become this year’s winner of the annual Bernstein Award. It recognizes
outstanding, potentially successful business ideas developed by SU students.
It is the first time a second-generation winner has taken home the award, and its top
prize of $5,000, since the competition began 20 years ago. Entrepreneurship runs in Engler’s
family–her father, Pete, used his winnings from the 1989 competition to start the popular
Salisbury restaurant Nacho Pete’s.
“I was extremely proud of her,” Pete Engler said. “The passion she has for business and
the work she put into her plans showed in her presentation.”
Engler’s winning plan for the “Ocean City Provision Company” was announced by competition
founder and SU alumnus Richard Bernstein (’76), who attended the awards banquet on Saturday,
April 28, with his wife. He spoke about the personal significance of the $5,000 first-place
award: It was the amount he borrowed from a bank to launch his first business, K&L
Microwave in Salisbury. He also reflected on the joys of entrepreneurship, as well as its
broader significance as a source of innovation and job creation.
“Not only did the award impact the direction I took with my career but now its impacting
my daughter’s life in a really positive way, and what a legacy for Bernstein to leave for
the University,” Pete Engler said.
“Through his continued support of this competition, Richard Bernstein has inspired an
entire generation of entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Stephen B. Adams, assistant professor of
management and director of the competition. “In so doing, he has earned the gratitude of
Salisbury University students, their families, the faculty and staff, and the broader
Nicolette Engler, who graduated in December with a degree in business management, said
she plans to conduct market research for her company and hopefully have it up and running by
next May. Her idea meal plans and all the necessary ingredients to the condos of Ocean
City vacationers when they arrive stemmed from seeing a yacht provision company in
“We wanted to make it more convenient for travelers so they can spend more time relaxing
with their family and not worry about meals,” she said. Her father and step-mother will be
part of her management team, serving as financial investors and entrepreneurial mentors.
“He’s been there supporting me with all that I need in this venture,” Engler said. “He
has a lot of contacts, which has been very helpful, and it was just rewarding to have him
Pete Engler (’89) invested his prize money in Nacho Pete’s shortly after graduating from
SU with a degree in business in administration and a concentration in entrepreneurial
studies. For 11 years he worked in the business, eventually opening a second Mexican
“I was the first person in my family to go out and open their own business and I didn’t
have the benefit of having someone with a business background to help out,” Engler said.
“But she will. My wife and I have strong business backgrounds and we will be her mentors.
That gives her a great advantage going into this.”
Engler said he’s enjoyed watching the competition grow and develop from its early years
when participants had to demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit during an interview with four
judges. “Now the students come with these great ideas and business plans, and to see them
get up in front of a whole crowd to present and share their vision is just fascinating,” he
Nicolette Engler’s plan for the “Ocean City Provision Company” was chosen from among four
finalists, who were in turn selected from among this year’s record 51 submissions.
The other finalists were also honored. Vienna resident Jennifer Layton, an MBA student
and training coordinator for the Small Business Development Center, won the $1,000
second-place award with her submission, “Layton’s Chance Winery.” It detailed plans to
begin growing grapes at her Dorchester County grain farm, turning it into a winery.
Two $250 honorable mention awards were given to Stephanie Parker of Millsboro, DE, for
her plan for “Exquisite Occasions,” and to the team of Ryan DeRose of Oswego, NY, Sara
Greaver of Baltimore and Adam Rones of Ellicott City for “Visual Assembly.”
Bernstein, a local entrepreneur and former president and CEO of BAI Aerosystems, Inc. in
Easton, created the competition to recognize students who develop original, well-researched
proposals for a business startup or for the transformation of an existing business. The
Franklin P. Perdue School of Business hosts the annual contest, designed to encourage and to
provide resources for young entrepreneurs to move forward with their visions. SU graduate
and undergraduate students in any program of study may participate.
This year’s judges included Warren Citrin, co-founder of Solipsys Corp. and his latest
company, Gloto Corp.; Rafael Correa, president of Machining Technologies (Ma Tech) in
Salisbury; James A. Poulos II, registered patent attorney and executive director of the
University of Maryland Office of Technology Commercialization; and Edwin A. Rommel III,
co-founder and managing partner of Twilley, Rommel & Stephens, P.A.