In Focus: For Dave Horesh of Oxford Pennant, becoming an entrepreneur was in his DNA

He is a self-described “tired guy,” and it’s no wonder. Dave Horesh, one of the business partners of Oxford Pennant, 731 Main St., Buffalo, since 2013, has been preparing for this moment—designing and manufacturing vintage style, American-made, natural wool and cotton pennants and flags for giants like Adidas, Google, and Weird Al Yankovich, to name a few—for a long time, since he was at least a teenager.

One could say being an entrepreneur—and learning to live with less sleep than the average Joe, er, Dave—was in his DNA. His parents owned a small screen-printing company, and Horesh, who was the youngest of three children, recalls going to work with them to fold T-shirts. He learned early through his parents the value of hard work and owning your own company.

Originally from Rochester, N.Y., he came to the Queen City to attend the University at Buffalo, where he earned a degree in psychology. He stayed in the neighborhood to put his creative skills and adroitness to work as a printing representative at the Block Club, a branding and strategy agency (within walking distance of Oxford Pennant since its move last fall). It wasn’t long before he became one of only three partners and director of strategy.

“His presence is undeniable; you will never forget him,” says the bio page on the company’s (Block Club) website. And if that wasn’t enough work, Horesh (with his business partner, Brett Mikoll) decided to launch Oxford Pennant.

“We made our first batch [of pennants] and posted them on Instagram,” Horesh says. “Friends bought them, then we sold an order of 400. Our business exploded on social media.” Indeed, Oxford Pennant has sold to Google, WordPress, and Yahoo.

Oxford Pennant has done so well, in fact, that in October 2017, it moved from 43 W. Tupper St. to 731 Main St., Buffalo. The partners have plans to open a flagship store at this location in the spring. Currently, they employ five people.

“We’ve been lucky,” Horesh says. “We’ve had friends who need jobs, and they are people like us who value customer service. At Oxford Pennant, we want people whose light bulb turns on, and they understand what it means to go the extra mile.” In the spring, they will be looking for that one special person to run the new Main Street store.

“Buffalo, as a market, has been good to us,” Horesh explains. “We live among the past as much as the present.”

When Horesh looks back on those first years of building the company, he recognizes there were, of course, successes and challenges. “I didn’t think of myself as an entrepreneur,” he says. “I think there’s a stigma attached to that term.” He says he started the business on his credit card because “I was willing to go into a small amount of debt” and take a risk.

He says he wishes he had hired help earlier in the process. “I ran myself ragged,” he quips. “I even worked on my honeymoon!” He says it’s important not to neglect yourself as you build a business.

He also noted that with the rapid growth of the company, it was important for him and Mikoll to make sure the “bones” of the company stayed strong as they grew. “I see myself as a conduit to American history,” he says. “I just want to make people happy” through pennants.

Read more articles by Cynthia Machamer.

Cynthia Machamer earned a B.A. in writing from Houghton College and has more than 15 years of experience writing in the nonprofit sector. She moved to Buffalo in 2005, and her happiest moments are spent with her two grown children and her niece.
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